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Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after finishing second in 2023 F1 Australian Grand Prix. Image Credit: AFP

Rome: Lewis Hamilton’s surprise decision to quit Mercedes and join Ferrari at the end of the coming Formula One season was greeted with joy in the Italian media on Friday.

Still basking in Jannik Sinner’s triumph at the Australian Open, Hamilton switching to Ferrari was hailed as a “coup of global proportions” by daily Corriere Della Sera.

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“A team which created history in motor racing is being united with a great champion... I expect electric competition, race after race, which will drive up interest across the board,” wrote former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi in the newspaper.

Italy’s biggest sports newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport dedicated nine pages to Hamilton and Ferrari on Friday, a huge deal for a publication in which football dominates coverage.

Equalling Schumacher record

But not even Sunday’s huge Serie A clash between Inter Milan and Juventus could shift Hamilton from the main front page story, as the famous pink sports daily welcomed the seven-time world champion to Italy.

The Gazzetta described the move as a “gamble”, in particular because Ferrari, who have not won the F1 driver’s championship since 2007 and the constructors’ since 2008, now need to provide him with “the perfect car to make history”.

Hamilton is chasing a record eighth title, which would take him past F1 icon Michael Schumacher, whose seven titles included five in succession with Ferrari from 2000 to 2004.

Leclerc's long-term contract

The Gazzetta also highlighted how the move for Hamilton could create problems for Ferrari with Charles Leclerc, who recently signed a long-term contract with the Scuderia.

Turin-based daily La Stampa spoke to Riccardo Ceccarelli, the founder of the Formula Medicine training centre, which works with Leclerc.

“Lewis doesn’t look his age and he still has a long career in front of him,” said Ceccarelli.

“We tend to think of reaction times and reflexes as being the most important things in motorsport, but what counts more is motivation and Hamilton is super motivated.”