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Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Jan 2012   |  12:10 pm GMT  |  113 comments

F1 drivers are among the fittest of all athletes, even though they do their sport sitting down. The strength and stamina required to sustain forces of up to 5g many times in a lap and maintain concentration without giving in to fatigue are vital to success.

Lewis Hamilton has had a relationship with sports clothing brand Reebok since the early days of his F1 career and he is set to become one of the key faces in a new multi million pound campaign for the brand, set to launch in March.

According to Marketing Week, Reebok, which is part of the Adidas group, has identified that many people like to treat fitness and the act of getting and staying fit as a sport in itself and they are going to market it that way, using Hamilton and other sports personalities. It will be interesting to see how he is positioned.

The goal of the campaign is to “change the way people perceive, define and experience fitness”.

The company has set itself a goal “to bring fitness to the world and be seen as the world’s fittest company”.

The Reebok deal is one that Hamilton has outside of his McLaren contract, and for that reason he’s not allowed to have any branding on his race suit, due to team rules.

Hamilton is reaching the end of his long contract with the team and will be turning his attention in 2012 to his next move. Staying at the team looks the most likely option with no room at Red Bull and Fernando Alonso in for the long haul at Ferrari.

Mercedes could be an option, if only as a negotiating tactic, with Nico Rosberg the only driver on a long term deal going forward.

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113 Comments
  1. Richard says:

    It has already been in the press that Hamilton wants to renew his contract with McLaren as his best option. After a relatively poor year last year he needs a strong showing this year ahead of Jenson Button to re-establish his worth. Of course it remains to be seen just how good the McLaren car will be this year given the loss of the blown diffuser, but with stiff competition from Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, and perhaps Lotus it will never be easy. High degradation tyres don’t really go hand in hand with spirited driving so much depends on the car.

    1. Wayne says:

      I don’t think Hamilton even needs a negociating tactic to re-sign with McLaren. They want him, they will be hoping that he will mature in the next year or two (at the very most) into a ‘great’ driver ready to lead the teamn to long-term success. However good Button is, Hamilton has to be the LONG TERM future of McLaren out of the current line-up.

      1. Richard says:

        Well negotiation is always best done from a position of strength so he needs a good showing this year as it’s not so much if, but for how much they will sign him for. After two very good years 2007/8, there has been a succession of lack lustre performances mainly due to the McLaren car’s uncompetitiveness, but in 2011 Hamilton’s performance dipped for a variety of reasons not least of which must have been frustation at McLaren’s apparent inability to produce a front running car, and many operational mistakes. McLaren have of course recognised this, and I hope with a decent car and Sam Michael they are able to consistently qualify at the front. Last year Red Bull have raised the bar on all counts and so to beat them any team will have to perform virtually faultlessly.

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        If McLaren want Lewis they have not been showing it over the past say 2 years? I would say Lewis is best adviced to try another team – he has been at McLaren for too long. It would be important for him to win in another car. Mercedes at the moment looks his best option – he has friends there and the team can afford him.

  2. With Mark Webber only on a 1 year extension (I believe) for 2012, Hamilton could take up his place in 2013? I guess that also assumes that the Red Bull Young Drive Programme is ignored and they get Lewis in to partner Seb instead of one of the Toro Rosso boys or Buemi who will be the senior teams reserve driver. Would be interesting to see Lewis vs Seb in the same car.

    1. Justin Bieber says:

      It would be interesting but I don’t see that happening under Dr Marko’s watch. With Vettel achieving so much and being so young, what they need is a solid point scorer with a good attitude.

    2. Rich C says:

      Not a chance.

    3. Dxs says:

      Eventhough Horner doesnt call the shots, he has stated numerously that he wouldnt go for a pairing that clashed.

      There is a harmony with vettel and webber. Webber is like an [mod] child that has little self worth (because he has had nothing but poorcars until recently and subsequently isnt highly regarded).

      Even after he was treated like crap by the team in 2010 where there were numerous instances of vettel favortism (front wing, vettels old chassis etc), he still re-signed with redbull because there were no other options.

      Basically webber [mod] is still a solid driver, and could win a world champ with support, but that will never happen at RBR (he did lead the WDC longer than any other driver in 2010).

      Why put in Hamilton that acts like the golden son to clash with Vettel who also thinks he is the golden son. It would be 2007 all over again.

      Webber is this decades rubens.

      1. Wayne says:

        Your analogy refering to ‘an abused child’ is offensive and unnecessary. I think the Mod was sleeping ont he job when this post got through, considering some of the language used throughout including refering to Webber as ‘the b**ch’.

      2. kevin green says:

        Hamilton will never get a seat at Redbull Ferrari or Mercedes i would not think, too much said alongside other probable factors, time for him to put up and shut up where he is and just be greatful of it!

      3. CH1UNDA says:

        @Kevin – unfortunately neither you nor me nor any other fan on this site can make hiring decisions for either Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes. To declare that he “will never” is wrong at the very least. Regardless of what is said in public, Red Bull have to acknowledge that Vettel would very much like to drive for Ferrari – it would be wise for them to have Hamilton as the succession plan. Alonso might have signed a long term contract with Ferrari but if he does not win a championship soon, that contract is not worth the paper it is written on – ask Kimi about that.

  3. Dmitry says:

    I really do hope he stays.

    By my perception he has the same feelings and inner qualities like Mika Hakkinen, who (although via Mercedes) was very committed to McLaren and wasn’t looking elsewhere during his years in McLaren.

    The second thing – does anyone can image Lewis in Ferrari or RBR? They are very “different”, in every aspect, their philosophies are different – one is too proud and think they are nearly saint, the other – is just a drink company team (they may say different as much as they want, but it won’t change the fact). And they have long-term plans for some of their drivers, with whom Lewis won’t be a good partner…

    Yes, there’s Mercedes and Lotus… nah… can’t see him there either.

    As of Lewis’ Reebok contract – I think, he won’t mind not wearing any Reebok branding on his overalls… I believe he earned enough already to really worry about such things.

    1. JimmiC says:

      I could absolutely see Hamilton at Ferrari or RBR. Ferrari carry the infinite glamour of being the oldest and most iconic team in F1, and I think he’d get a hit from that. RBR have their own laid back aesthetic and promote this image, whether it is really true or not behind the scenes, that would fit well with Hamilton’s own attitude.

      1. Dmitry says:

        Sorry, can’t agree.

        It will be like Alonso and Montoya in McLaren – virtually nice but doomed relantionship.

      2. Athlander says:

        I’ve always thought Hamilton was a better fit for Ferrari than Alonso.

      3. Martin says:

        It might be a bit tricky to reply as I think I’m the 4th level comment, but I’d be interested in your thinking.

        I don’t think nationality has much to do with it. Ferrari has generally picked who it wanted. Commercial aspects have come into it at times. Alan Jones is quoted in the bio that I have by Keith Botsford that he was initially offered the 1978 drive that Gilles Villeneuve eventually got due to North American sales interests. Alonso has an edge with Santander in that regard.

        The Ferrari mythology, at least from the 1970s when Enzo was older was that team seems to need a driver with a strong personality to focus its attention on. McLaren doesn’t seem to have that in its history. When the cars were fast and reliable and they had good drivers they won. The engineering direction seems pretty settled.

        From what Ferrari has said, Alonso provides the focus that it wants. To me the McLaren scenario doesn’t really show how Hamilton would go in this role. The first half of 2009 suggests that at least with a #1 on the car, Hamilton was willing to go flat out in a poor car. It probably helped that it was worst in qualifying and that McLaren was one of the few with KERS, as this allowed the McLarens to progress in the races.

        Hamilton has talked about how Jenson has had a settled and supportive group around him. The inference has been that Lewis is suggesting that he is not in that space. Part of the Ferrari way seems to be that you become at home at Marrenello. Are these compatible?

        As a driver, I see more parallels between Hamilton and Mansell than Hamilton and Senna. I think once the Tifosi got over 2007-2008, they would love him, and he would get much better results than Alesi.

        When Hamilton went to McLaren it was Ron Dennis’ team, and has David Coulthard found, Ron had his favourites. I’m not sure the team is quite the same now.

        Cheers,
        Martin

      4. Rich C says:

        Not gonna happen.
        I can’t imagine why ppl keep on keeping-on about this.

        Both those “others” will be wanting an up-and-coming younger guy who will play second fiddle for a few years until their Anointed Ones retire or move on.

        LH doesn’t fit *that picture by a country mile!

        No, I’m afraid he’s “stuck” at McLaren for the rest of his career.

    2. lol says:

      McLaren is just a car manufacturer,(they may say different as much as they want, but it won’t change the fact).

      And they are getting their behind’s kicked by a drink’s company.

      Must be pretty embarrassing.

      1. Martin says:

        They’ve been beaten by a clothing company before, so a energy drink is probably a step up. Red Bull does come from Stewart Grand Prix, and Jackie did win a lot more races than Bruce :-)

  4. Rob Newman says:

    Millions for Hamilton and 15p an hour for the factory worker in asia who has to work double shifts to make ends meet.

    Before signing these sort of multi-million contracts, sports stars should find out about the poor people who make those products in the factories, their working condtions and how much they get paid.

    1. Toby says:

      Why limit it to sports stars? Goodness knows sports stars aren’t making any business decisions. Why not put the onus on the consumer of these products? It’s a fine line to walk, sports-based popularity and influence, as much of it hinges on the success of the star. Looking at all the “distractions” that affected Hamilton’s season last year, I don’t know if a full-scale investigation into Reebok’s employment practices is what he needs. After all, he’s a race car driver, not an executive, politician, human rights activist, or anything else. I’ve never met him and can only assume that he’s a decent enough person, but why he, or any other athlete for that matter, should serve as the world’s moral compass is going to require some explanation.

      1. Rob Newman says:

        It could be a sports star or any star for that matter. They have a moral obligation before they endorse a product. It is same as why some celebrities wouldn’t endorse items made from fur.

        The general public wouldn’t care because they wouldn’t know where it is coming from or under what condition it is made.

      2. Darryl Ephraums says:

        Absolutely spot on Rob. I couldn’t agree more. And with regards to Toby, why limit it to sports stars indeed? Everyone is implicated in the exploitation of people!

      3. Ohm says:

        Hey, I think Rob is saying sports stars because they’re the ones promoting it, consumers just consume it. Plus, I’m one of those people who believe people with recognisable fame have the social responsibility to say and do what’s right because millions of people, especially kids, are watching. Perhaps Hamilton shouldn’t be involved in investigating the issue himself like you say, it’s not his job, maybe it should be his manager and agents who should’ve background-checked these companies before giving it to him.

    2. Dmitry says:

      If you earn 15p an hour you probably cost 15p an hour and can be replaced with another man for 15p an hour.

      If you are capable of doing anything at top world level then you deserve to earn money. That is completely ok and a result of talent and lots of hard work.

  5. Dan says:

    I really think Lewis is going to be so strong this year, after the last 12 months.

    As long as Mcalren produce a competitive car I’m backing Lewis for another world championship.

    1. lol says:

      This years car was competitive on race day. It won 6 races, could have won 9.

      And his teammate beat him.

      1. Dan says:

        You putting it that simple obviously means you don’t understand F1, it’s not that black and white.

      2. lol says:

        I have been following F1 daily since 1978, been to 19 GPs too, I think I know a few things.

        The only people who think the McLaren did not have a competitive car is Hamilton and his fans.

        The rest of us know they could have won 9, meaning half the races.

      3. Dan says:

        Could of? Red Bull were by far the best car last year, Mclaren were the most competitive of the rest yes, but for you to say he should of done this and that is naive.

        Yes I’m a Hamilton fan, but it was clear Hamilton was not with it as he should have been this year.

        This year the Blown diffusers are banned, hopefully meaning F1 will be more roundly competitive amongst the top teams (especially in qualifying). If Mclaren is one of those teams I’d back Hamilton to win the championship.

        If you read my original post I say ‘after the last 12 months’ referring to the problems Hamilton has gone through this year, granted self inflicted problems, but if his head is right an the car is good he is one of the best Drivers on the grid.

      4. **Paul** says:

        Very true, I think Vettels amazing season gave people the opinion that the RBR car was massively fast. In qually trim the boy took it to the limits (e.g. look at his lap in Suzuka for pure commitment – that’s why he got pole in a slower car that day!). On race day the McLaren was often as fast if not faster. But that kinda destroys the whole ‘Vettel isn’t that good, it’s all his car’ argument – which doesn’t sit well with LH fans

      5. CH1UNDA says:

        @lol – best as we know, Hamilton has only been beaten by one teammate so far. Can somebody share how many seasons Button has been beaten by a teammate in his career? Let’s not make Button beating Lewis look like winning 3 championships rolled into one.

  6. Red5 says:

    Post 2012 his decision will likely be driven by McLaren’s ability to produce a championship winning car.

    If they can start this season strong and lead the development race he may well continue his relationship with McLaren rather than looking elsewhere. Bear in mind it is very unlikely he would partner Vettel and to be honest I can’t see the RB + SV partnership changing in the next few years.

    There are not as many top teams as armchair punters like to think. Inevitably choices are limited.

    1. CH1UNDA says:

      Chances are Lewis will move not because of a poor car but a bad relationship with the team.

  7. franed says:

    Several interesting points in there James. Did you mean he’s not allowed to have any “Reebok” branding on his race suit, since it seems fairly covered in every other brand.
    Massa could well leave Ferrai at the end of 2012, since he has been put on notice several times to up his game with the feeling that it’s his final chance.
    But then Hamilton/Alonso Ferrari is much like Prost/Senna Williams, but in this case Alonso is not going to retire. (unlikely that Alonso has it in his contract that they are not allowed to engage Hamilton as Prost did, to no avail)
    Reebok had batter not have any fat executives!

    1. franed says:

      Oops Freudian slip there with the batter. (and fries with that please, yes large!)

    2. Liam in Sydney says:

      Despite Alonso getting on ‘okay’ with Lewis these days, Alonso will never tolerate Lewis as a team mate again. It just won’t happen.

  8. TheBestPoint? says:

    Did not know Reebok was now part of Addidas. So how does that work in terms of sports brands going after the same market?

    Anyway, we have gone from Reebok & driver fitness (could be interesting)to his end of contract negotiations-(which should be interesting, I’m not sure what the connection is between both but I’m biting.

    REEBOK, and a lot of other brands, will try and cash in on the American market especially with the speculation & high visibility set to follow Hamilton until contracts r sorted or otherwise.
    But better now than latter, once the season begins he shld negotiate limited sponsor duties.

    Hope this is not a “let’s witch hunt Hamilton & his management” response generating article but then he does break the mould to the intense irritation of non-fans & less high profile driver fans, one suspects.

    If Mercedes come up with a good enough car in 2012 then they should be considered a viable option for 2013. They have Brawn – good race engineers – haug – engine power and the Good but ‘No teammate Drama’ Rosberg.

    1. Rodger says:

      How does he “break the mould”? Genuine question and interested to hear why you think he does so. I don’t think there’s been a driver since probably Schumacher whose come in and done something different to his predecessors (in terms of his fitness, attention to detail and ability to build a team around him).

      1. TheBestPoint? says:

        It was in reference to the brand marketing comments in James’ article. Lewis’ ability to always be the headlines or very close on racing or non-racing related issues is absolutely uncannyand the marketing man’s dream.

        There are a number of reasons for this – but I don’t think the combination will be replicated anytime soon which why I made that comment.

      2. Rodger says:

        So you mean from a ‘attention’ point of view instead of a ‘driving ability’ point of view? I probably agree with you then.

      3. CH1UNDA says:

        @Rodger – correct me on the history but i have a feeling he is the only rookie to have beaten a reigning two time champion; that is driving ability right there.

        If the logic that “Button beat Lewis in 2011 and therefore Lewis is no good” was to hold true for all drivers, Alonso wouldn’t be the number one driver at Ferrari. It is unwarranted to write Lewis off because of one season – there was a time Vettel used to crash into anything infront of him – now he is a two time WDC. And frankly, 2011 wasn’t that bad for Lewis – he won 3 races whereas Webber in clearly the fastest car on the grid could only manage 1.

    2. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      +1

  9. Roo says:

    I read somewhere he’s been in the recording studio, making a single. Apprently he is also back in with his ex-girlfriend.

    The question should be ‘what you ‘WON’T’ see Lewis Hamilton dong next…’

    My guess is- ‘taking Mclaren to the 2012 WDC’

    Jenson will do it for him…

    1. Blade Runner says:

      Agree, have you seen the GQ magazine article he did recently? Cringe-worthy at first glance then when you read the quotes………….:-(
      I cant say how disappointed I am.
      Jenson again to be No.1 at the end of 2012 in the Mclaren garage if not the whole pit-lane.

      1. JB says:

        Firstly, the GQ photo shoot took place in November. Just like any other star or celebrity who were to do a shoot for a magazine, his clothing, posing, makeup, etc. would have been out of his control. And even then, it wasn’t THAT bad. Some of the clothing items were questionable, but GQ is a men’s fashion/culture/advice magazine, and so not everything will please and suit everyone. I, for one, thought he looked pretty dapper and hip in most of the ensemble.

        But that’s besides the point. We, as F1 fans, should be thanking Lewis for being an ambassador for the sport in the US, for that is exactly what he was doing in the shoot. Hundreds of thousands of people probably got on their computers and looked up Lewis and F1 and the 2012 Austin GP from reading that magazine. Just remember that next time.

        And thirdly, Jenson will, in no way, beat Lewis to a title at McLaren. I’m sorry, but you’d honestly have to really hate Lewis to believe that. He (Lewis) outqualified Jenson 17-2 in 2011. Tell me of a driver who’s won a WDC while being absolutely dominated by his teammate in qualifying, and maybe I’ll take you seriously.

      2. Andrew Cumbria says:

        Jenson will beat Lewis, he did last year because he can drive a car round others not through them. [mod]

        Lewis’s style does not go with the pirelli tyres his best years are already behind him.

        [mod]

      3. Jeff says:

        There was a difference between qualifying pace and race pace this year, due to a number of factors. One of those factors was the tyres, and how well the driver can manage them over the course of a race.

        Lewis can go very fast on a one-lap run, which put him ahead of Jenson at the start of the race frequently last year. That didn’t seem to translate into a significant lead over the course of a full race quite as often, arguably because Jenson may have been a little more gentle on tyres.

        Jenson and Lewis appear to be very closely matched on race pace. It’ll be interesting to see how they compare this year. Hopefully the race between them will be for 1st and 2nd in the championship.

    2. CH1UNDA says:

      No way McLaren is taking the WDC if both drivers are racing – that formula does not work in F1. If McLaren wants to win the WDC with JB, they would have to designate him the number one driver right from the start of the season which would basically be a message to Lewis to pack his bags and start eyeing Mercedes or Red Bull.

      Is that a risk worth taking – frankly yes. Even in the best circumstances, i don’t think Lewis, Whitmarsh and McLaren have a future together – its best Mercedes grabs him. In any case the difference between the Mercedes and McLaren is not that much.

  10. Wayne says:

    I’d have thought that RBR’s brand image would welcome a driver like Hamilton. I have no doubt that Hamilton would welcome the chance to take Vettel on in the same car as well. Just as I believe that a consistently on form Hamilton would come out on top of that battle as I believe that Hamilton’s very best is better than Vettel’s very best. Still no one actually knows how that would turn out and we probably never will know either.

    To offer an uninformed opinion, I do not believe that Hamitlon is happy at McLaren. They are a cold, clinical team and Hamilton is a very (perhaps too) emotional guy who needs the kind of adoration, love and support that only Ferrari really offer their number 1 drivers. I get the feeling that Button is absolutely Whitmarsh’s favourite son, there is always an extra sparkle in his eyes when Button wins that simply is not there when Hamilton wins. The team in general probably prefer Button also, especially after Hamilton demonstrated his lack of loyalty during his visit the RBR motor home. This is not to suggest in any way that there is unfair treatment at McLaren, which would be a ridiculous supposition – just an emotional thing.

    1. richard c says:

      just a thought, could it be that whitmarsh see,s LH as the last thing in the team which Ron Dennis brought in??? If so then it no surprise that he detests LH. I don,t think it matters if it is Button just that it,s someone Dennis brought in. Go for it Lewis I for one will be cheering you on and when you do win please don,t talk to Whitmarsh or Brundell!!!!

    2. JimmiC says:

      I thought Mclaren bent over backwards to keep their arms around Hamilton’s shoulders last season; they were more patient with him than they might’ve been with another driver. Button gets adoration and support by building a network around him – his father, Jessica, establishing a rapport with his mechanics.

      I really miss the scenes we used to have whenever Hamilton made the podium and his entire family, brothers and all, were there. He’s clearly missed that comfort zone you get through familiarity.

    3. TheBestPoint? says:

      Whitmarsh is really a strange case. There is the obvious connection and support for Button but one can only speculate as to what he has against Hamilton that stops him being at least completely professional towards him and makes one speculate on his competency when he is unable to hide his personal bias.

      1. snailtrail says:

        Are you able to expand on this – examples?

      2. Wayne says:

        I do not think that Whitmarsh is not completely professional towards Hamilton. However, I just get a feeling that he cannot hide his joy at every Button success and is a little more subdued when Hamilton wins. There is no proof, just a gut feeling having watched him over last season in its entireity.

      3. snailtrail says:

        You mean like Horner acts differently between Webber and Pettel – yes P not V

      4. Wayne says:

        Yes, just like that. Nothing underhand about it, just a personal emotional preference that is not completely hidden.

      5. TheBestPoint? says:

        Yep. I’m compiling a dossier on him.

        Seriously though I tried putting pen to paper and came up with 1 and half pages of wierdness – including my analysis of his actions. I’m throwing up just a handful.

        Suffice to say that I to suspect this goes way beyond Hamilton to issues with Ron or Maclaren executive.

        Otoh one has to concede it could be as benign as that he is too caught up in trying to change the culture/Ron legacy or trying to hard to show how capable he is. Suggesting just a normal, not very clever (to paraphrase Mosley) administrator who does not fully get the implications of some of stuff he says/ does.

        1. Completely breaking up Lewis race team to accomodate a new driver. Yes Prew was promoted but Jacob could have taken over. One expects new driver to take a while to bed in so this suggests his shortterm agenda was to slow down Lewis. Was the team being put first here? The fact that it worked out well cld explain overwhelming joy he felt when Button won. (The fact that for me jury is out on Latham is additional side effect adding further complexity to Lewis issues under him ).
        2. Post Silverstone press conference with telling comment that Ron can not sack him only board can??? Where did that come from?
        3. He did not handle Massa vs Hamilton as a Team Principle who gives a feck would. Does not matter whether Hamilton was devil incarnate he is a Maclaren driver and more vocal protests/intervention would have helped Muzzle Massa whinging-circa Williams/Mercedes/Ferrari (who we now see were not that impressed by Massa driving). Considering that the initial prob of sharing tarmac with Massa occurred due to Quali operational probs it wld have been the least he could do.
        4. He exposed Hamilton’s private business with his “professionally” happy expose when being questioned about his poor performances. Considering the car was not fast enough in Quali mode and that operational errors,erratic racing & tiresome tyres were also issues for him then he could not have been that happy professionally. Hamilton prob did not mind but Whitmarsh using his private life to deflect attention was underhand.
        I’ve got loads more including FOTA year 1&2,his media susceptability & constant positive spin on Buttons races pointing to an inability to camouflage his preference -so much for “changing Ron’s culture of favouritisim”. Anyway I expect this lovefest to ease down a bit if the Car is not fast enough this season becos Button, is now lead driver and quite media savvy. He will not allow any fault for not winning races/championship to be placed on his head like Hamilton does “for the team”.

      6. CH1UNDA says:

        @TheBestPoint? – nice summary of those weird subtle games from the Whitmarsh corner.

        Wikipedia.org claims that some researchers estimate upto 80% of the communication is through body language. The lowest estimate is at 60%. In short, Whitmarsh doesn’t need to say it for us intelligent homo sapiens to know he prefers Button – we are wired to read his body language and his is saying he doesn’t care for Hamilton. It is unfortunate but that is the way it is so hopefully Lewis can get a drive at Mercedes and hopefully Brawn can built a good car when Lewis makes the switch.

    4. **Paul** says:

      LH might not fancy taking on SV in the same car. Just look at whats happened with JB. The world and his wife decided that JB would get thrashed, but what’s happened is JB’s stock has risen even more and LH’s has dropped (*smiles after predicting it would be very close*). Lewis isn’t some modern day Senna, he’s another top quality driver, just like Button, Vettel, Kubica, Alonso, Rosberg etc. If he went head to head and didn’t beat SV then it’s a real dampener on his career, it’s a huge gamble, and one I doubt he’ll take after his JB experience.

      1. Wayne says:

        I think I disagree, Paul. Hamilton’s ego would not let him consider anything other than beating Vettel neither would it allow Lewis to explain 2011 as anything other than a blip. As far as 2011 goes he might be justified in doing so considering that Lewis’ worst ever performance in F1 resulted in him matching his team mate for race wins during a season when his team mate had his strongest ever performance. In 2011 we are comparing Lewis’ worst against Button’s best (so far).

        I agree that Lewis in not a modern day Senna. But then Senna was fallible as well, he too was not a super being. I also agree that a move to RBR would be incredibly risky, I just think Hamilton would look on it as a chance to prove his ‘greatness’ and snap it up however right or wrong such a decision would be.

        Some pundits like to suggest that it is simply uneducated F1 fans that doubt Vettel’s ultimate ability to compete with Alonso and Hamilton at their very best with equal machinery, however, close analysis of key F1 insiders, past and present, clearly shows that fans are not the only ones with their doubts.

      2. Andrew Cumbria says:

        Wayne, I have to agree with you, the same was said of Jenson, the pudits all said he was stupid to join Lewis at his McLaren team and that we would be destroyed. The first season Jenson did OK, though overall Lewis obviously got the best out of the package, was better in qualifying, and seemed more consistent.

        Last season Jenson got a car that was at last designed with both him and Lewis in mind, and he beat Lewis, many could never have expected that to happen. Whether that was a blip on Lewis’s part we dont know yet, this season could yet go either way, so lets wait and see.

        F1 drivers have to have supreme self confidence, and I am sure Lewis would expect to beat Vettel in the same car as would any of the leading F1 drivers in the sport now.

        I have to say that I personally think that it would be a very close call, I hope in some ways he does go, that way we will provide us all with a better comparison of them both, certainly against each other. This wasnt possible last season with Red Bull having by far the best car all season by a large margin at most tracks.

        I would say that Seb is more brittle under pressure, the question would be can Lewis stay with him and make him fail, or would he be allowed too, given team orders are legal now ?

  11. AuraF1 says:

    I think Lewis will struggle to use any team as a negotiating tactic. His only realistic option to pressure/alarm McLaren would be to talk to Red Bull. They really aren’t going to be concerned about a move to McLaren. Jenson Button had some genuinely threats with Ferrari on the horizon, but Lewis not so much (oddly considering he’s more of a financial asset than Jenson – at least in terms of his marketing exposure)

  12. WoZ says:

    It’s hard to see him moving to another team in the near future. In fact I could never see Hamilton driving for Ferrari and I doubt he’ll be keen to race in the mid-pack anytime soon.

    Didn’t he once say he wanted to race with McLaren for his entire career?

    1. Richardd says:

      Yes he did, right after he won his title and was saying thank you to the team at Woking…

  13. Martin B says:

    Should be an interesting advertising campaign.

    I remember him doing the ‘Reezig’ ads for Reebok. I hope this campaign is more informed than the Reezig adverts. They advertised Reezig as if they were running trainers, but anyone who goes running should know that you should always have your running gait analysed and have a suitable trainer based on the analysis.

    I think you’re right about him staying at McLaren James, but, if he has a bad 2012, he might become fed up with the team and just move out of petulance rather than considered choice? One thing is sure, it’ll be fascinating.

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      He will wait as long as possible before signing, to see:

      1. How McLaren performs in 2012 compared to other chassis.
      2. How Felippe performs in 2012 compared to Alonso and whether Felippe will get the boot.
      3. How the whispers on car design for 2013 play out – i.e. is the new ‘must have’ designs looking brighter at other manufacturers compared to McLaren?

  14. Richard says:

    He’ll be driving for Red Bull in 2013.

    1. Justin Bieber says:

      I’m willing to bet a kidney he wont.

      2012 = Hamilton + McLaren.

      1. Richard says:

        “Hamilton may move from McLaren. If I was Bernie I would probably want to see him at Red Bull with Vettel” Damon Hill today.

        At least I’m not on my own.

      2. TheBestPoint? says:

        But that is just Andrew Benson decontextualising/re-interpreting Tom Cary’s blog of Damon Hill’s comments which in turn were made to deflect attention & scrutiny from his, Damon’s that is, move over to the DARK SIDE!!!

        not that it is not a valid point mind you!

  15. jmv says:

    If 2012 is a bad campaign, he’ll leave F1 by end of the year and will go for American MEGA stardom in NASCAR.

    His management also seems more American market based than anything.

    He will do what no recent F1 driver did: to consistently win races in NASCAR.

    1. Blade Runner says:

      A very likely scenario IMHO

      1. Shane says:

        NASCAR….really? He enjoyed his publicity outing last year yes, but I don’t think it’ll give him the buzz he relishes. I think he’ll stay in f1, but with who? All the time Vettel is at Red Bull he won’t be welcome….it just wouldn’t make sense on Red Bulls part….same at Ferrari.
        If he wants a decend shout at race wins and championships then he’s gotta stay with macca and hope their luck changes. If it doesn’t, we’ll then we are just gonna see more silly mistakes and toys out of the pram moments….the only other option….if the Silver Arrows come good…Schumi won’t be around much longer.

    2. Alex W says:

      Oval NASCAR is completely different, he’s unlikely to do any better than JPM in this case.

  16. … the world’s fittest company – well, now that McLaren don’t emit CO2 any more, they’ll have the world’s fittest F1 driver.

    As Iggy Pop once said, bigger houses and taller kids. I mean those early F1 champions all looked like Michelin man, who could’ve thought modern F1 boys will all be more like sheep shrinking airplanes.

    Let’s see if HAM caught Villeneuve syndrome or not… The signs are more or less there.

  17. Pete says:

    Hamilton to Mercedes will NOT happen

    Rosberg is there for the long-haul and Schumacher is nowhere near finished

    only recently did Haug indicate they were VERY happy with him and would have no problem extending his contract

    Schumacher has struggled in qualifying at times, but there is no doubt about his race-speed and he is still brilliant at developing the car

    he is still the biggest name in the sport’s history, FAR more popular globally than in the UK, and still far more popular in Germany than Rosberg

    besides, UK journalists tend to stress the ENGLISH qualities of the Mercedes (based in England with Brawn as the boss + lots of English engineers….)

    in Germany, Mercedes is clearly seen as a GERMAN team (pretty much like McLaren is considered to be English in England)

    both Rosberg and Schumacher often refer to the Mercedes team as the “Nationalmannschaft” of F1

    ie: the German national F1 team

    occasionally, this leads to “innocent” clashes

    during the last football World Cup in SA Schumi and Rosberg put up a big German flag over the Mercedes garage

    the English engineers quickly took it down

    incidentally, do not forget Vettel; when his contract runs out at RB, he could easily join Rosberg at Mercedes; when Vettel gets asked about joining LEGENDARY Ferrari one day, he tends to answer that there is indeed a certain mystyque about the Prancing Horse, and then adds: just as their is about the SILVER ARROWS

    Vettel is one of the most patriotic guys around, at times even signing the German anthem or at least moving his lips; Mercedes is a real dream of his

    also, don’t forget about Hülkenberg; the boy is the REAL DEAL and should Schumi stay another two years, the Hülk could easily replace him

  18. Justin Bieber says:

    2012 will be the year Lewis needs to rebuild his reputation. 2011 was a bad year for him where he displayed poor race performance, poor team spirit and poor sportsmanship and was beaten by his underrated team mate.

    Redbull will not hire him because its not part of their business model to hire a driver who didn’t come thru the Redbull drivers program and they wont risk disrupting team harmony.

    Ferrari is not an option neither as no team boss in their right mind would put Alonso and Hamilton in the same car again.

    Mercedes is not really an option. They are slow and have not yet proven that they can win races, let alone WC.

    Unless Lewis has a fantastic star of the season, he will be in a weak negotiating position. McLaren will re-sign him for sure but I think he will get a lower salary with performance bonus.

    Hopefully he wont do a Montoya and leave halfway in the season to go race in Nascar.

    1. Rob Newman says:

      Agree … not sure if he will settle for a lower salary though.

      1. Justin Bieber says:

        I’m sure he will but I dont know about his management. Also with bonus based on performance, he can make a lot of $$ if the car is good.

        Anyway, Lewis need McLaren a lot more than McLaren need him.

      2. TheBestPoint? says:

        When he is on record as stating he would take a pay cut for a Redbull equalling car!!

  19. Dunky says:

    James,

    Why do you say no room at Red Bull? I thought the general consensus was 2012 was Webber’s last year?

    If the two new Toro Rosso drivers don’t make an impression this year surely Red Bull will be recruiting externally for a new driver?

  20. mo kahn says:

    I think Lewis will be one of the favorites (as always) going into 2012 campaign… There is no shortage of talent and speed. Last year he was lost it, this year I’m confident he will be well sorted and will attack. Does not matter if Button has the entire team behind him… Drivers like Schuey, Kimi, Vettel, Alonso and Lewis can do a lot with very little… Alonso did prove this when Lewis had the entire team behind him, so with the caliber Lewis has it would impossible to write him off.

    So, not only for Lewis, but anyone of his caliber has a lot good coming their way :)

    For We Capricorn never give up (just ask Shuey) :)

    1. Justin Bieber says:

      You have a point but don’t forget that there is 6 world champions on the grid next year. The 2012 WC will have a very good car, be at the top of his game and will have a sh!t load of luck during the season. Talent alone will not do it.

  21. goferet says:

    Urgh, this can only mean more sponsorship work for our Lewis & looking back in 2011, Reebok was the company for that had our Hammy at it’s beck & call doing all sorts of things like running in LA’s alley ways.

    Having said that, am looking forward to this new campaign, hopefully it will have some people like Nadal & Usain Bolt chasing models on a beach.

    As for Lewis’ future, I tell you, we shall finally see Lewis in a Red Bull come 2013, to replace Webber (who is getting on in years) & who has a one year contract.

    I believe this is what Horner & Hammy talked about after qualifying in Canada i.e. To get Lewis’ rear in a Newey car just like Aryton did back in 1994.

    For sure, all Hammy fans will rejoice in November for not only will it be a long over due WDC in the bag but we shall finally see the back of this Mclaren team that’s only good at talking but really has nothing to show for it.

    Come on, 3 WDCs in 19 years and 2 WCCs in that same time period —> GET THE HELL OUTTA THERE.

    So good riddance Mclaren, I will be a Red Bull fan in 2013 & yes, I will try and find a way to like that Christian Horner fellow.

    1. If you only knew says:

      “Hammy” Really? Are you like a 4 year old? Stop idolizing a driver who was a WC because, Timo Glock moved over for him. If he was as good as the BBC make’s him seem; he would had no problem of getting rid of a- seconddriver- that is Massa. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge Lewis Hamilton fan but, lets be realistic here. He’s not an “All Time Best”. It is rather annoying when someone idolizes Hamilton blindingly with out looking at the big picture.

      1. Spinodontosaurus says:

        You claim to be a Hamilton fan yet still insist on that stupid Glock conspiracy…?

  22. JimmiC says:

    Does he need another distraction? Wasn’t the lesson learned from 2011 to focus his brain more on the car and his driving, and not the pointless peripherals that come with being an F1 driver?

    I’m sure he’ll pocket a few bob from any ad campaign, but does he want to drive past a billboard of his big face promoting being a winner having crashed into Massa the previous Sunday?

  23. Werewolf says:

    I hope most of the Reebok commitments are pre-season. Hamilton proved in 2011 that the last thing he needs is distraction.

    He has an awesome talent, possibly the biggest in F1, but he needs to harness it every race weekend to avoid being beaten by those that have less natural talent but apply their skills better.

    I doubt any F1-based advert will ever be as good as the “Anything You Can Do” one he did with Alonso and Hakkinen!

  24. F1 FAN says:

    How about entering for the European Song Contest it is about time that Great Britain won it again i am sure he would do pretty well as he is well known around Europe, or if he is looking for another sport then what about Trampolening Tiddlewinks or even Chess.

  25. Franco says:

    Hello James, Do you think that with McLaren loosing their Mercedes works deal will impact Lewis decision. Whilst I suspect their customer engines will be same but surely the relationship will differ.
    Im certain Lewis would want to know what their future engine plans will be, this next contract is critical to his success or lack of it.
    I’d love to see him at Ferrari but will have to wait for a few years :(

    1. James Allen says:

      Indeed. With Red Bull now the works Renault team and Ferrari and Merc in charge of their engines

    2. Chris C says:

      I was also thinking the same thing. I don’t think that it is a matter of relationship rather it is a matter of resources. A works engine was coming with heavy investment in terms of money from Mercedes. Money is not the only differentiator (talent would be the other one) but it certainly plays a key role in determining winners. in 2011 they did pretty good but at some point will they be able to match the needs of developing a car to their resources? Even BrownGP managed one year with no money thanks to the past development

      So in my opinion I am expecting Lewis to remain in Mclaren but instead of doing another long contract with them doing a short term one (max 2 years or 1+1 option) so that he can reassess his options when Mclaren’s future is more easily readable (perhaps with a partnership with Honda or other manufacturer that will choose to enter) and if nothing comes up by then to take a position in one of the successful teams of that period or move across the Atlantic in search of more money

      1. Franco says:

        Definitely agree he may take a short term view on the next contract but c’mon can you really see him in the states racing those mickey mouse cars oops I meant Nascar. 

  26. Rach says:

    In my view he has already signed with red bull.

  27. fduct says:

    Isnt Adidas cross town arch rival Puma the official clothing company of all F1 teams ! Thats why McLaren can not be associated with Adidas/Reebok directly i guess. Maybe one day in the future that personal Reebok sponsorship deal will be quite handy should he end up in a smaller team like Lotus, Sauber or Force India where he might have to fork over money from sponsors in return for a drive. Its up to him to prevent that day from ever coming. For the moment though, while his standing isnt what it used to be in 2007/08 he can still cherry pick between staying on at McLaren or replace Schumacher at Merc, thats the word on the street. There is of course no guarantee that Merc can offer him a race winning car, nor that he can beat Rosberg over a season nowadays. Red Bull and Ferrari are out of the question, they have better number 1 drivers and Hamilton isnt the best number 2 driver material. Its number 1 or bust. Best to just focus on the job at McLaren, have a no nonsense approach to the races and a convincing trouncing of Button in the next 2 to 3 years would do his reputation wonders even if the car is not good enough for championships. That way he will have better options to stay with a top team once the youthful twenty something Hamilton is replaced by a more mature thirty plus Hamilton.

  28. Alex_D says:

    HAMILTON – EXODUS
    ————
    As a Ferrari fan, I was never really contemplating on what is next for Hamilton. Back in 2007/2008 he really surprised me. Almost won the title in ’07 and have beaten Massa by 1 point in ’08. I respected him, I guess and was considering him a gifted driver with a bright future and multiple titles. I thought he is a forever McLaren man.

    Today I think he lost it. I do not like his attitude, his style. Now that I know him better, I like him less. I like very focused drivers, super dedicated, always on the form – like Schumacher, Alonso or Vettel. There is nothing else for me, but F1.

    Hamilton is like a Justin Timberlake in F1. Before 2011 I loved watching the way he drives, but last year…it was a pain.

    I do not know what is next for him. Nothing good I guess.

  29. Dan Orsino says:

    Hamilton:
    Emotional and physical support of team and friends is crucial for Ham, and he has said so himself. I would think changing teams is a bigger deal for him than it would be for other drivers. Ron Dennis again in charge of his side of the garage, if it can be arranged, and even if only for next year, might be Ham’s dream ticket. I fear he would fade away otherwise. [just an opinion]..

    Alonso:
    With respect, James, I feel no driver can be assured of team support “For The Long Haul”. Yes it’s likely Alo will still be a Ferrari man in 2013, but by no means assured. If Ferrari still have nothing to show this time next year, they, more than anyone, will be reviewing their options…..

  30. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    What should look 2013 for McLaren without Hamilton?

    Do you think Button will drive alongside Di Resta? Is that good enough for McLaren?

    And what if Hamilton drives with Rosberg in Mercedes in 2013? Is it a real possibility?

    Maybe Mercedes can be ahead of McLaren and this could be a great achievement.

    1. Zack says:

      I could see Lewis driving for Mercedes one day. He is friends with Norbert Haug, so watch this space…

  31. Craig in Manila says:

    Re the driving future for LH :
    Too many existing good/great drivers and
    (1) not enough good/great Teams to match them with
    (2) alternate Teams already have their own plans/desires that mean a no-fit for LH.
    He, and others, are gonna find options limited in terms of moving to a better (or even equivalent) seat unless some existing mid-tier teams improve or other manufactures enter the fray.

    Re the “personal” future :
    Let’s hope that non-F1 distractions don’t build-up and give him ready-to-use reasons for disappointing results when fronting the media at a late-2012 press conference.

    We need him competitive again !

  32. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    In my opinion, Hamilton will not leave F1 early. He will have noticed what happened to Kimi and may even have talked / will talk to him about his experience. Hamiton, like Vettel wants to continue to build a name for himself rather than being a 1 year WDC. That can be put down too much as being in the right car at the right time (eg Alan Jones). To be regarded as one of the best, you need to win the WDC multiple times. Hamiton has many years ahead of him to try to do this.

    Personally, regardless of the past year, in my opinion he is best suited to staying at McLaren. Any postulating prior to signing a contract is much the same as what happened with Webber – ie a dead certainty. Similarly what would McLaren have to gain by losing him? What other available drivers have his talent? I would rather have an unfocused Hamilton than any of the other drivers bar Jenson, Vettel, Alsonso, and Schumi. The rest are yet to prove themselves as the best of the best.

  33. Eduan says:

    Question James and it is off topic:

    Will the Senna movie reach countries like South Africa?
    If not where can we get a hold of it?

    Thanks

    1. James Allen says:

      You can buy the DVD many places, including on this site, look for the link on the right.

      1. Eduan says:

        Thanks!

  34. fduct says:

    If Webber was leading the championship longer than any other driver (thanks to reliability issues on Vettels car) why couldnt he deliver the goods in the end ? I think you answered why Webber is not the number 1 !

    As for the old chassis story, Webber destroyed his in the Valencia crash (with Kova) all by himself and Vettels old fixed chassis served as the Red Bull T car at the time. In your mind you would have preffered for Webber to just sit out the next race if i understand it right ? Red Bull did build more brand new cars for Webber in 2010 than they did for Vettel but Webber fans like always see only what they want to see.

  35. Tim says:

    I think Hamilton’s options are pretty limited. My view:

    Red Bull: perfect car for Lewis, the team ethos would fit very well too. But he will not go there while Vettel is with Red Bull. Firstly, can’t see Seb allowing it, and I think they want a very decent number 2 or rising star (Webber or Ricciardo/Vergne)

    Ferrari: Never while Alonso is there.

    Mercedes: they’d have to have a blinding season, showing they can consistently win or challenge for wins. Unlikely I think, so that’s a no for 2013.

    That leaves McLaren, and the future engine deal must be a huge factor.

    Its always interested me that McLaren are really the only team that goes down the “joint number 1″ route. Both Ferrari and Red Bull have two drivers who can win races (so no journeyman number 2′s) but there is still a clear number 1. A decent number 2 who takes a couple of wins and a load of podiums will help deliver the WCC, but a clear number 1 gives the best chance of a WDC by avoiding point-splitting between drivers (see Williams vs Prost in 1986, McLaren vs Raikkonen in 2007).

    My prediction for the season? A very close season see Vettel to win 3rd straight title but under severe pressure from both McLarens (Button to come out on top – just) and Alonso. As long as McLaren and Ferrari are competitive from the first race. Rosberg gets lucky and wins a race and Schmacher takes a podium in his final race. A better season even than 2010 – here’s hoping at least!

    My prediction for 2013? Webber retires and replaced by whoever is fastest at Toro Rosso, Massa replaced at Ferrari by Perez on a 2 yr deal till Vettel becomes free, Hamilton re-signs for McLaren on a 1-yr deal, Schumacher retires (again) replaced by Di Resta.

    Doubtless it will completely different…

  36. spr1nger says:

    Lewis at RBR might not be as far fetched as some think,RBR is basically a marketing tool and even in a bad season Lewis is the most talked about driver on and off the track,he is as they say a marketing mans dream,so you just never know,if mclaren want him to resign then they they need a great car from first race or I don’t think he will stay.

  37. Charlie says:

    Nobody forces “sweatshop” employees to work in factories. They choose to do so because the alternatives available in their country pay less or have worse working conditions. For example, would you rather scratch 5p an hour working arid farmland, or 15p an hour in a factory? “Sweatshops” are a stepping stone to better-paid, more pleasant jobs that become available as a country’s economy develops – ask any South Korean. Or would you rather the workers stay out in the fields, and in poverty, forever?

    To suggest that a race car driver should refuse sponsorship from a company investing in a developing country is ludicrous.

    1. Jon Wilde says:

      Couldn’t agree more!!

      Not sure this is the forum for such views, but well said!

  38. JohnBt says:

    Honestly Simon Fuller will drag Hamilton down on sportsmanship IMHO.

    If Lewis is still under Anthony’s management it will surely be totally different.

  39. noahracer says:

    I think the team continues its hypocrisy (as first noted by KeKe) in allowing certain drivers (Senna and his “Nacional” logos come to mind) while trying to keep others under their thumb. Lighten up Ron.

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