Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, and Ferrari driver...

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, and Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc of Monaco arrive to speak to media ahead of the Formula On Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, March 16, 2023. Lewis Hamilton's arrival will present “a huge opportunity” for Ferrari next year but signing the seven-time Formula One champion involved some uncomfortable phone calls, team principal Fred Vasseur said Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. Hamilton is joining Ferrari for next season after driving for Mercedes since 2013. He will team up with Charles Leclerc at the Italian team after Carlos Sainz Jr. leaves. Credit: AP/Hassan Ammar

Formula 1 great Lewis Hamilton kept his Ferrari move so closely guarded that he didn't even tell his parents until the day it was announced.

The British driver rocked the F1 world when it was announced on Feb. 1 he was joining the Italian manufacturer next year, despite signing a new contract with Mercedes last summer.

“I didn’t speak to anybody. I didn’t tell my parents till the day of it being announced. So, no one knew," Hamilton told a BBC podcast. “I really wanted to do it for myself. Ultimately, I had to find out what would be the best for me.”

It then emerged that the two-year deal penned with Mercedes and announced last August was actually for one year with an option for a second year, which Hamilton did not take.

Hamilton informed Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff of his decision to leave only the day before over breakfast at Wolff’s home. They have become close friends over the years after Hamilton joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013.

The 39-year-old Hamilton and Michael Schumacher have a record seven F1 titles each, and Hamilton is the outright leader with 103 race wins and 104 pole positions.

Hamilton has spoken in the past of the lure of racing with Ferrari, where Schumacher won five of his world titles.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, waves as he arrives...

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, waves as he arrives for the F1 drivers group picture ahead the drivers parade prior to the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023. Driving for Ferrari next year will be a dream come true for Lewis Hamilton but the seven-time Formula One champion remains “100% committed” to Mercedes until then, he wrote Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. Credit: AP/Kamran Jebreili

“I mean, the opportunity just popped up and I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got to think for a second,’" Hamilton said. “(But) I didn’t have a lot of time to think and I had to just go with my gut feeling and I decided to take the opportunity.”

Hamilton begins his last season with Mercedes on Saturday at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

His last win was at the Saudi Arabian GP in the penultimate race of the 2021 campaign, where Max Verstappen won the first of his three straight titles with Red Bull.

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