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Ron Dennis sheds light on Hamilton contract talks
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Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Jun 2012   |  9:38 am GMT  |  254 comments

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about championship leader Lewis Hamilton’s next F1 contract, with his long term deal with McLaren due to expire at the end of this season.

Hamilton is now managed by Simon Fuller’s XIX entertainment group and clearly the next contract for Hamilton is an important one, both financially and in terms of his competitiveness.

Yesterday McLaren group chairman Ron Dennis shed some light on how they see it, in an interview on Sky,

“It’s a complex situation,” said Dennis. “He is on the end of a contract which was signed a at a time when the economy was somewhat different. Now there has to be a balance.

“He’s obviously going to look at what’s available, where could he go. We’re going to look at who’s available. At the end of the day, hopefully the fact that he’s been part of this team from the beginning of his career will play a significant role in whatever decisions both sides make. But it’s a little early to be talking about it.

“He’s very highly paid,” Dennis added, “He’s certainly paid more than I am.”

Hamilton signed on to race for McLaren in 2007 and after a stunning debut season he inked a longer contract to the end of 2012. The world economy was indeed in a boom at the time and McLaren also had Mercedes Benz as a partner and shareholder.

Since then the global financial crisis and the departure of Mercedes as a shareholder in 2009 means that McLaren is in a different place.

Although it is set to receive a boost to its share of income from the commercial rights of the sport, with the agreement it made with FOM in March, McLaren clearly feel that they are in a reasonable position in this contract negotiation round.

Hamilton’s options are Mercedes, who must be looking carefully at him as a replacement for Michael Schumacher and, perhaps less likely, Red Bull, where his presence would electrify things on a marketing level, but would be considered by the racers in the team to be potentially destabilising with Sebastian Vettel. However if they feel that there is a realistic chance of losing Vettel to Ferrari in 2014, then they may move for Hamilton.

Dennis and McLaren F1 team boss Martin Whitmarsh have enormous experience of these kinds of negotiations. Anyone who went through several negotiating rounds with Senna in particular, will have been to hell and back in trying to get the best deal for the team.

One solution may be for Hamilton to be allowed to have his own sponsors, something the team has been reluctant to do since Ayrton Senna had Nacional bank on his overalls and cap.

Hamilton’s win yesterday was his 18th in 97 starts. According to GP Guide.com he has an 18.56% win ratio and a 47.4% podium/starts ratio.

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254 Comments
  1. Matt W says:

    Mclaren need to offer Hamilton the world at the moment. He seems to be dragging results from a team that seem very weak in extracting the best from each race.

    Not sure why Mclaren continue to have their policy on sponsors. It was that ridiculous policy that meant they missed on signing Schumacher which could have massively altered history and the fortunes of the team.

    1. Dave says:

      Agreed. If McLaren look around at replacements for Hamilton, I think they’ll come up short. While there are many promising youngsters at other teams, I don’t think any of them could come in and do what Lewis Hamilton is doing.

      With Button going through a poor run of form, McLaren are reliant on Hamilton. Hamilton must also feel some loyalty to the team that brought him through the ranks.

      I hope, as a McLaren fan and a Hamilton fan, they can come to an agreement.

      1. Onko says:

        Mr R.Dennis should know that talent does not
        come cheap and Hamilton is a rare talent if ever was one,sign him up “pronto ” Ron, before
        he becomes a man in red.
        As for loyalty ask C. Stoner about it,Ducati
        gave him all.

      2. Martin says:

        Not sure I understand your Casey Stoner comment. Up to 2006 the Ducati was an occasional winner with Capirossi and once with Bayliss. Since then no one but Casey has been anywhere near the front in a dry race. Despite Stoner’s results, Ducati started chasing Valentino, so why wouldn’t Casey look elsewhere? Also Casey had no prior history with Ducati before he got to MotoGP, it is not as if Ducati sponsored his career in the way McLaren sponsored Hamilton. Apart from the races Casey missed due to his lactose intolerance, I don’t really see any particular issue at all in Stoner’s career with Ducati. If you want to query loyalty, look at Jenson Button’s early career, and then his leavng Brawn for McLaren.

      3. Horoldo says:

        Onko, I’m not sure you understand why Stoner left Ducati. Stoner left Ducati because he woke up to the fact that he was loyal, but the teams sponsors dictated to Ducati. When Stoner was ill, that wasn’t a good enough reason for the sponsors, so they made ugly situations for their sponsored teams employee (Stoner). Ducati like a lot of F1 teams, caved to sponsor pressure and didn’t stick by their star. Hence Stoner’s departure. Although some F1 teams (with the right sense) will stick by a winner and support him, but I guess sometimes sponsor pressure can be telling.

      4. Wayne says:

        Hamilton’s has repaid that Loyalty by sticking around through some terrible McLaren cars over the past few years and some awful pit errors this year.

      5. Nathan Jones says:

        Couldn’t agree more. What do people expect from the guy? A lifetime of servitude? They invested in Lewis, Lewis gave them one championship, one near-championship, and race wins every year he’s been with them. A circa 50% podium rate means he’s given back to the team. As for those who say anyone can do that – well ask Heikki what he thinks, or Jens at this moment.

        Aside from anything else, there are plenty of drivers that go through young driver programmes. Most of them end up as nobodies. No one asks anything further of them for having gone through the programme and failed. Why would you expect lifetime loyalty from a guy who went through the programme and came out a winner?

      6. Matt W says:

        Yup I think you can only have loyalty to a point. You can’t expect a driver to give up possibly multiple championships out of loyalty. If Hamilton feels Mclaren can’t give him the best deal he has every right to move on, or Mclaren can make the deal or decide to try another driver.

        Drivers and teams are entitled to move on, it doesn’t mean either party have been disloyal.

        I think both would be wise to settle, but Mclaren maybe have more to lose as there aren’t many available top talents but potentially 3-4 teams capable of winning titles.

      7. Martin says:

        I agree, in that McLaren developed Hamilton as it was in McLaren’s interest to do so. If he wasn’t good enough in F1 then he’d be another Sebastian Bourdais.

        His salary is in one sense a separate issue, as it reflects his commercial worth to the sponsors over the life of his next contract.

        Since Hamilton signed up for five years the quality of the cars in the past is largely irrelevant. His was paid to drive. Apart from parts of 2011, he generally did an excellent job, which is what you’d expect from your most highly paid staff member. If Hamilton thinks he’d enjoy working more for another company than that is an option open to him. If he thinks the cars will be better at another team, then he can chase that if he wants to.

        As far as “some terrrible cars” I’d suggest that all of them were in the first half to 2009 up the British GP. In 2007 and 2008 the best car varied between Ferrari and McLaren. The McLaren was occasionally the best car in the second half on 2009 on slow tracks that required KERS. There were races in 2010, 2011 and 2012 where Martin Whitmarsh said they had the best car. Add all those races together and subtract McLaren’s errors and you still end up with a total rather more than Hamilton’s 18 wins.

      8. Wayne says:

        Martin, any time that McLaren produce a car that is not consistent enough over a season to allow a driver to effectively challenge for the WDC will be a terrible car from their own point of view and mine. There is no excuse for this outfit to produce a car that is 1 second plus off the pace at the start of a season, totally demoralising their drivers. You also do not factor in the emotional toll such cars have on a driver like Hamilton, who routinely overdrove his car over the past few years in abject desperation.

        Of course there have been times when Hamilton simply cocked it up himself too but it isn’t a mathematical equation as you suggest.

        It could be argued that this year’s car is not exactly a ‘great’ car as it is roughly as effective as the competitions’ unlike the RBR of the past two years. However, I think this would be unfair to McLaren, just producing a car that is as effective as Ferrari and RBR is a great achievement. So instead McLaren have set about having awful pit operations instead to shoot themselves in the foot – notice the error again in Hamilton’s secon stop in Canada. Hamilton might be as much as 16 points ahead were it not for his team’s consistent errors – the consistency and frequency of which I have nrarely seen before.

        McLaren for me are a great evolutionary team rather than a great revolutionary one. Perhaps Hamilton should stay with McLaren until the next major change in a couple of years and then partner with Newey who will probably deliver something game-changing.

      9. Glen D. says:

        Huge fan of Hamilton and Mclaren as for loyalty I don’t think Lewis owe the team anything he’s given everything but the team hasn’t and you can feel the tension between driver and team many times during the race from the team radio. I don’t want them to split up but putting Lewis in a Merc would be really exciting and put Rosberg to shame.

    2. Mark Li says:

      I heard from somewhere that Vodafone are pulling out of V8 racing and cricket. This could mean they have no money or saving money to spend elsewhere. Would be worthwhile for both parties if Vodafone stumped up for the increase in salary. Obviously if this happens then Lewis may have to compromise and do more commercial work for Vodafone.

      1. Optimaximal says:

        No sure how Vodafone could feasibly have ‘no money’ when they dodged a UK tax bill that would essentially save our economy…

      2. alexbookoo says:

        + 140,000,000!

      3. Nathan Jones says:

        Vodafone doing stunningly well in comparison to its European mobile peers. No mobile telco is doing great, but they are doing relatively far better.

        If the much-rumoured Vodafone-Verizon merger were ever to happen (possible but prob unlikely though) then Vodafone would find itself with a huge US presence overnight. Marketing wise, Lewis Hamilton would be box office gold for Vodafone in the US. He’s got the pop star girlfriend and he hangs out with Will Smith, and the sport has two GPs coming in the US. Vodafone would raise him to the heavens as a saviour.

        Vodafone would very much like to stay connected to him, in my opinion.

      4. Nathan Jones says:

        As a lifetime lover of cricket, it pains me to say cricket’s day has come and gone. Never to return.

        F1 is a bit more global than V8 supercars.

        Very Oz-centric, those cuts.

      5. Ade says:

        I believe this departure of Vodafone as sports sponsor applies to their activities in Australia only – and there it is due to factors other than ‘a lack of cash’.

      6. jc says:

        Vodafone’s sponsorship issues are limited to oz only. I dare say they would want Lewis to stay at McLaren a he is a fairly marketable commodity. And not a bad driver I guess.

      7. Horoldo says:

        Hmm, Guess they should have waited to see which economy would be growing and which would be sinking.

    3. F1Fan says:

      In contract negotiations, leverage always trumps power. McLaren may have the power but clearly Hamilton has the leverage in this case, notwithstanding Ron Dennis’ comments. The reality is that there is only one Lewis Hamilton out there, just as there is only one Alonso and one Vettel. Hamilton will likely have a few options to go to, certainly among top teams capable of winning WDCs. On the other hand what drivers are out there who can replace Hamilton at McLaren and still keep them in contention?

      Button this year is actually helping Hamilton in his contract negotiations. He is regarded as a very good driver and yet look at where McLaren would be now if Hamilton were not there and it was Button and another driver. Sure, last year Hamilton also had an up and down year, but it was clear he was distracted and had issues in the background that contributed. Button can’t seem to point to any similar issues contributing to his own falloff, which makes his bad form all the more glaring. Right now Button is highlighting what an exceptional driver Hamilton is, and that can only provide him greater leverage in his contract negotiations.

      So regardless of whatever posturing Dennis may do, I think he is a smart enough businessman to know that he and McLaren are in the weaker position.

      1. Vinola says:

        Well said.

      2. Optimaximal says:

        I don’t believe that’s the case at all. Button & Hamilton have distinctly different driving styles.

        If they drove the same way & were still dramatically different in the same car, then yes, you’d be right, but last year Hamilton struggled & Button thrived in contrasting conditions to this year – dealing with tyres.

      3. Wayne says:

        Hamilton struggled through his worst ever season and still won as many GP as Button did in his best ever season (including his wdc year). Does not say much for Button to me.

      4. aezy_doc says:

        Not sure what you are disagreeing with. Hamilton finished behind Button last year mainly because of DNFs and penalties – not on pure speed and ability to set up a car. Button is behind Hamilton this year because he can’t get the car dialled in. Hamilton is doing a better job at the moment than Button – ergo if Button is a good driver, Hamilton is also a good driver and should get at least par with Button on contract. Hamilton is also more marketable than Button, would be in greater demand from other teams and is younger, so arguably has the leverage in this situation.

      5. James Allen says:

        Just to say that over the weekend the site received its 200,000th comment in three years, so thanks to you all for your very high level of interaction with the site. JA

      6. David Ryan says:

        Wayne: I don’t recall Lewis winning 6 races last season, which is the number Jenson won in 2009. You may wish to revise that statement.

        On a wider note, Jenson did win the first race of this season quite comfortably and finished 2nd in China, so I feel rumours of his Formula 1 demise are somewhat exaggerated. His recent struggles point more to a setup dead-end, for whatever reason, and as with any other driver if he figures this out and rectifies it he will be back on form. Look at how Michael Schumacher is suddenly back on the pace, for example.

      7. aezy_doc says:

        Congratulations James on reaching 200000 comments. Thats quite an achievement. why did you choose to broadcast the news in a reply to my post? (secretly hoping that I contributed the 200000th post!)

      8. James Allen says:

        Just because that’s when it was brought to my attention. In fact we passed 200k earlier in the weekend.But thanks

      9. Michael says:

        @ Optimaximal you are in denial

      10. Nathan Jones says:

        Clearly. The writing is so on the wall. Adaptability is something that all great drivers have, as the pundits always like to point out to us, so why can’t Jens adapt?

      11. Richard says:

        While I think it’s great Lewis is doing well, I think Jenson’s problems are engineering based. In other words his engineers are letting him down in not identifying properly what the issues are. These tyres have a narrow operating band, and unless the car is set up and balanced properly the tyres don’t switch on or simply degrade rapidly. – It’s engineering not driver related.

      12. Dave says:

        > Hamilton will likely have a few options to go to, certainly among top teams capable of winning WDCs

        I’m not sure he does. Ferrari is surely out of the question – him and Alonso have certainly put their differences behind them, but definitely not enough to be team mates again.

        Red Bull might be an option, as James said. And a spot may open at Mercedes if Schumacher leaves. So that’s 2 choices really.

        You’d have to say thats it. Lotus aren’t a WDC winning team yet, and then we’re into the midfield teams like Sauber, Force India, Williams etc – all of whom I have much respect for, but they aren’t going to give Lewis the car he wants.

      13. Cliff says:

        I’m not sure why you say RD is posturing. He was asked a question and he answeredit! Fact is that there was a lot of money in F1 in 2007 when compared to the current stae of play. For Lewis, it should not be about the money, it should be about the team that can give him a winning car. Ferrari & RBR would be the obvious choice with Mercedes behind. Ferrari and RBR have stability with Alonso and Vettel, and I just can’t see either driver accepting parity over a season. There no doubting the talent at Mercedes, but they are yet to prove that they can produce consistently good cars. My guess is Mclaren for Lewis with a shorter contract.

      14. jay jacob says:

        ‘not about money but about WDC-winning cars’
        Yes & No
        Yes coz all drivers want WDC title
        No coz teams dont pay less to attract WDC-winning drivers of Lewis’ pedigree

        Spot-on for RBR / Ferrari / Merc analysis; plus, McLaren is a known entity to Lewis and if he moves to other teams he will need at least a year to develop synergistic-competitiveness

        again, spot-on for mclaren + short contract; to add, i wud nego 2+1 yrs for contract term coz 2014 is start of turbos & radical tech changes and to commit longer than 1 yr during a new tech era poses higher risks; nego-wise from a driver’s view, by end 2014 we’ll see a new constructors pecking order and this is leverage to secure:
        a) higher retainer (to stay with a team) for experiential development continuity
        b) opt out (of +1 yr contract term) to enable a switch to a more competitive constructor

      15. Kay says:

        Button cannot seem to point out whatever’s the cause to his underperformance coz he wouldn’t say it. Observers know very well that he needs a very precisely setup car to perform at high level, anything outside it he cannot drive the car at all. That’s one weakness Lewis does not have.

        Button is good yes, but overrated in his ability coz he cannot outdrive the car or drive around problems. Hamilton worths McLaren’s money more than Button.

      16. Hendo says:

        what? Compare Hamilton with Button? hmmm… one win for Hamilton and one win for Button

      17. Elie says:

        Yes but how many times has Jenson been on the podium ?

      18. Sascha says:

        Points from the last 4 races:

        Hamilton: 43
        Button: 2

    4. Jon says:

      I know everyone is commenting upon where Lewis is maybe is going etc.

      I Just want to point out When I lived at Mum & Dads “Dad was F1 mad” and hell I loved watching too Wow (Senna racing with Mansell at Monaco) that was great.
      Then Came Schumacher boring yawn.

      Then came Lewis Hamilton wow finaly F1 worth watching.

      Personally I think he is a fine role model.

  2. Erik says:

    James when is Fernando out of contract with Ferrari? I can’t see Vetel there if Alonso is still around,, Fernando would surely have something to say about that.

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s starting a five year contract. He’ll collect a pension when he leaves there…

      1. Badri says:

        James, knowing Schumacher more than many others, do you think he will hang his helmet at the end of this year? I personally think he wont quit without some success apart from building Mercedes GP. Whats your take on this?

      2. James Allen says:

        I’m sure he wants at least a podium.

        Hard to say if he’ll quit. Certainly he’s been reasonably competitive lately, so I can’t see Merc wanting him to stop, unless maybe they have a golden shot at getting Hamilton and he wants to come

      3. Sebee says:

        Schumi is staying one more season to get the “Most GPs raced” record from Rubens, and to keep himself in better shape than he can without F1 in his life.

        Then he’s out.

        That’s my bet.

      4. jay jacob says:

        James, got an insider’s comment/development on merc’s F1 commitment ? haven’t came across any lately.. also, wud love to have a dedicated piece on JAF1 for this, that is, if you’ve not thot abt it

      5. Nando says:

        If Vettel goes there in 2014 and is quicker are you sure he wouldn’t move on James? We only really have 2007 to go on in that regard.

      6. Tom in adelaide says:

        Indeed, i think he and Schumi will be battling for the top job at Ferrari someday.

      7. Matt W says:

        Not necessarily James. Ferrari have shown in the last few years that they still have the ruthless nature when it comes to cutting off drivers they feel are past their prime or too old. If Alonso fails to lift the title again this season and next season I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ferrari (rightly or wrongly) looking to try a different lead driver.

        Unless of course you meant the possibility of Ferrari pensioning off Alonso in the same way as Kimi was.

      8. Matt H says:

        There is absolutely no chance Ferrari will look to anyone but Alonso as their lead driver unless something extra-ordinary happens.

        If they don’t win the title whilst Fernando is there (let alone 2012/13), it’ll be their fault, not his. Alonso has driven as well or better than any other driver from mid-2010 until now. He’s in his prime.

        I think James means that he’ll be with the team for so long that he will be of a pensionable age, not that the team would get rid of him.

      9. Wayne says:

        They haven’t been very ruthless with Massa. Plus do you really think that Alonso’s driving will deteriorate to the point where a team will actually want to get rid of him? I am a Lewis fan for ten years, but Alosno is the best there is right now and I see no reason why that would change. Even if Hamilton gets better, I can’t see anyone else beating Alonso so he’d still be second best.

      10. Elie says:

        Agree with Wayne- Ferarri could have lost Fellipe a few years ago & no way on earth would they loose Fernando – at 60% he is better than most – he will know when his time is up and it will be pension age with his passion for the sport.

      11. Nicky Santoro says:

        (-:

        Quite right!

        Of course you don’t see him going to Ferrari even as Alonso and him have been exchanging niceties of late, do you?
        I guessed not…

        In my opinion he should go to Mercedes instead of Rosberg. But I guess he’s not German enough to fit the bill…

      12. Kay says:

        James, interesting about the pension thing you mentioned, never heard about that.

        I imagine MSC also had similar arrangements made for him by Ferrari back in 2006. So what happened to his connection with Ferrari since MSC’s comeback with MercGP? Does he still get special treatment, cars and stuff from Ferrari? (Like the FXX he got gifted).

      13. James Allen says:

        It was a tongue in cheek comment. I was merely saying that it’s a very long contract and he signed it just before his 30th birthday

  3. The Conspiracist says:

    Interesting article James, I think all of the F1 drivers earn there money, as it could all be gone in a second.

  4. Rach says:

    Hamilton is going to red bull.

    Vettel is going to Ferrari in 2014 which means that red bull if they are serious need a number 1 driver. There driver programme isn’t really working so in my view they have no choice but to go for Hamilton.

    Then add in the Money situation and hamilton’s decision is made.

    1. madmax says:

      Agree and also I don’t see Schumacher retiring over a run of bad luck when his pace is the best it has been since his comeback.

    2. TG says:

      Hamilton’s surely likely to stay at McLaren – Ron Dennis’s obvious posturing aside (he’s always been as subtle as a sledgehammer that man)- but if not, then its got to be Red Bull.

      Merc aren’t even sure if they’re staying in F1, and their performance has been patchy at best.

      And Ferrari would have to change their entire driver management philosophy to accomodate Hamilton alongside Alonso, even if the two do get on like a house on fire. So I can’t see it happening.

      But for the same reason, I can’t see Vettel going to Ferrari either. I think he’s dreaming until the day Alonso starts resembling Massa – so if I was him I wouldn’t hold his breath.

      No, my prediction is Webber to Ferrari, Hamilton to Red Bull (if he doesn’t stay at McL). Helmut Marko will spit the dummy, but the marketing opportunities and the fact Vettel will be really kept on his toes would be too good an opporunity to miss.

      PS – Schumacher stays at Merc. He’s too stubborn to give up and Merc’s options sans Hamilton are limited, unless Merc write a blank cheque for Vettel (which they’re not going to do because they’re already hand-wringing over the costs of staying in F1).

      1. Horoldo says:

        yeah, I guess Mark hasn’t already got Seb on his toes. The blip last year looks almighty like lewis’s blip vs Jenson. Year before that Seb lucked in to the title over Mark & Fernando. This year Seb isn’t exactly riding off into the distance from Mark!!! Mark vs Fernando sounds pretty good to me. I just wish Mark had more time to take out Hamilton in the same machinery!!!! Would shut you fan boys up.

      2. jay jacob says:

        TG: spot-on analysis… bar one: for the webber-ferrari move prediction, massa’s consistency at year end is key; if he’s consistently within 0.2s of alonso in quali-trim, plus within 2 race-position finish of alonso, ferrari would bet on massa for stability + experience + team-synergy, all of which would be uncertainties with the coming of a new driver (even of mark’s calibre)

        schumi: again spot-on.. and to add.. another year of merc+schumi gives 2013 added stability.. BUT.. if raikkonen is not happy at lotus by 2012 year end, my crystal ball is telling me that haug will snap-up kimi..

        why?.. haug LOVES kimi, they spent 5-yrs together (’02-’06) which is more than haug has spent individually with either schumi or rosberg or hamilton in a team environment, kimi is proving his worth & shutting his critics, PLUS kimi is a WDC champ… this is a dream story-line in the making..

        if i was haug i’d immediately contact kimi’s management (if he hasn’t done so) to reserve 1st option for 2014, plus exclusivity of lotus contract buy-out for 2013 if schumi quits at end 2012

        what say you james, plausible?

  5. rocketredf1 says:

    What are the chances of Vettel at Mclaren? For some reason there is no talk about that possibility, and I’m sure he is pretty highly rated there. Would be an excellent choice if Hamilton were to leave.

    1. Optimaximal says:

      He’s publicly stated that he would want to drive for either Merc (national team) or Ferrari. Everyone’s just running with that quote and looking for ways to make it so.

      1. Kay says:

        Well no one ever imagined Button would be driving for McLaren pre-2009 lol. Anything can happen in F1.

    2. Raymond YZJ says:

      McLaren being my favorite team, and having followed Vettel’s career with great interest since 2003, I’d love that to happen.

      I’m not sure the personality will blend into the McLaren culture, but that’s another story.

      Vettel however is indeed highly rated. Whitmarsh has publicly revealed several times that he has indeed approached Vettel several times.

      In fact in 2007 he was the frontrunning candidate to replace Alonso, but given that didn’t work out they went for Heikki.

  6. colin grayson says:

    trouble for big Mc is that they NEED lewis , who could they replace him with ?
    trouble for lewis is ..where else could he go ?

    sounds nicely balanced to me

    1. 6 Wheeled Tyrrell says:

      completelly agree, all this talk about options the team or Haliton have are just hot air to bolster their negotiating position. At the end of the day Mclaren are the only realistic option for Hamilton and he is the only driver available who can deliver what the team needs.

    2. Wade Parmino says:

      He could do a ‘Senna’ in the 1993 pre season and threaten to leave completely.

    3. Horoldo says:

      Replace him with webber. Has history with merc and would play well with Jensen.

      1. Sascha says:

        At DTM

  7. pawelf1 says:

    McLaren should wait for Kubica. He wont need much money to start for them, and is as fast as Hamilton

    1. Andrew Kirk says:

      Don’t know why people are still banging on about Kubica. The man hasn’t been in an f1 car since beginning of 2010 and suffered massive injuries. In light of the lack of testing for a team in todays f1 would be a massive risk for a front runner to take him on as he would have to take awhile to get up to speed. Face facts people the man wrecked his career by driving that rally car.

    2. Mike says:

      Was as fast as Hamilton – who knows now?

      1. Martinus says:

        Looks like his driving instincts and reflexes are intact (he improved his time records on the roads he had had the accident, it also shows how strong the guy is mentally). If he comes back, I guess a few top teams (and Frank Williams of course – a huge fan of Kubica) will be ready to at least test him to see what’s left of the old Bob.

  8. Rob Newman says:

    People always think the grass on the other side is always greener. Money should not be the only deciding factor.

    At Red Bull, the final decision is made by Dietrich Mateschitz. He wouldn’t care if Vettel or Webber will like it if Hamilton is going to be a Red Bull driver. He is purely a businessman.

    At Ferrari it is a bit different. Alonso may not have a problem having Hamilton as his teammate. But he will expect Hamilton to move over if Hamilton is in front of him. Remember how upset he got when Fisichela overtook him (in China)? … and his on-track weaving towards the pit when Hamilton didn’t move over?

    The future of Mercedes is not very clear. Also Schumi might sign a one year extension.

    I think Hamilton will be much happier if he stays at McLaren and also as long as he finishes in front of Button.

    1. ida says:

      In china he was fighting for the championship. He pitted and put new front intermediate tyres on where fisi and schumi kept their originals on. It took 4 laps to get up to temperature and in that time he thought that fisi could hold position and hold up michael. Resonable enough request considering they were tied on points and fisi was around 40 points behind with 2 races to go.

      In indy 2007 Lewis qualified with lighter fuel and got pole but the issue from Alonso’s point of view was being put on a shorter middle stint than Lewis by McLaren strategists, which nullified his chances to jump him at the stops. Plus Lewis had an extra fuel burn lap which gave him an extra lap on top of his race fuel. All these events led alonso to believe he was being used like a number two driver hence the weave. See there are reasons behind his actions but it was much more popular to portray him as a paranoid child.

    2. Alanis Morissette says:

      I can’t see it happening (Hamilton to Ferrari whilst Alonso is there), but if it did Alonso would have to forfeit his automatic number one status. Ferrari wouldn’t pay out the necessary cash to have Hamilton in the team only to have him hamstrung in that manner, not least because the sponsors would desert Hamilton.

      Both drivers would be forced to assert themselves as the number one prior to getting preferential treatment if you have two drivers of that caliber – and we’ve seen, that’s not the way Alonso works (rightly so – he’s absolutely correct in wanting assured #1 status – only a fool would want points taken away by a teammate in a tight championship). The same would apply if we were talking about Vettel to Ferrari.

      1. Kay says:

        I think Alonso’s position is pretty safe in Ferrari with Santander supporting Alonso, since Ferrari’s income counts on Santader as well.

        Back in McLaren days, Ham had RD and team behind him, whereas Alo didn’t. IF Hamilton does go to Ferrari, the situation would be reversed no matter what he does he won’t be #1. LdM loves Alonso so much.

      2. Raymond YZJ says:

        The Santander that has been declining in credit ratings?

      3. Kay says:

        Raymond, declining or not, Santander have a sponsorship contract to fulfill for ALO or Ferrari. If they break the contract then they get to lose more money from it unless something happens (i.e. ING’s sponsorship for Renault, ceased due to Renault’s conducts, which I suppose had some sort of clause that’d allow ING to break away without having to pay anything). So Alonso’s safe.

      4. Martin P says:

        It doesn’t work like that Kay. If Santander experience a run on the bank then Ferrari will be at the bottom of a very long list of people wanting money from them. It’s highly likely they’d allow what remained of Santander to walk away, just as Williams did with RBS.

  9. Elie says:

    Not very encouraging words coming from Ron Dennis’s lips . I think a lot is hingeing on what Mercedes have to offer if Michael goes. I know Lewis must be on Mega bucks but clearly he should consider his next move strategically. If he can help Mercedes sit on that step of the podium it would be great for his marketability and future prospects- whereas he’s been there and done that at. I really think it would be great for him to move on.

    1. jay jacob says:

      Elie, fair comments, but my bet is that haug targets kimi as schumi’s replacement..

      i also believe kimi’s management approached haug in 2011 but resorted to lotus coz of schumi..but, this leads me to believe that kimi’s 2-yr lotus contract has a performance clause enabling him to opt-out a year earlier (say by end this year) if lotus doesn’t deliver a consistent podium-worthy car..

      so far, kudos to lotus for their performance, but my bet is kimi as haug’s first choice in replacing schumi..and possibly an exclusivity to buy-out kimi in 2013 if schumi quits

  10. Adam says:

    James, where do you see Robert Kubica fitting into this silly season?

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t. He’s had some more surgery lately, but it’s looking very hard for him to come back to compete at the very top in F1

  11. Jono says:

    I cant imagine hamilton in anything other than a mclaren, but who knows what will happen.

    1. db4tim says:

      He will look good in Red

  12. Gudien says:

    Is there a chance Lewis can go with a big payday (as Damon Hill did with Arrows) by going with Force India or Lotus?

    If Hamilton is indeed the huge draw some people seem to think he is surely he can bring large amounts of money to Force India or Lotus and build the team around him.

    1. James Allen says:

      You think Force India or Lotus has that kind of money?

      1. Marc Wood says:

        The teams might not but their respective owners do, they just might find the cash for a driver like Lewis and all the opportunities that could bring to the team?

      2. MISTER says:

        There’s a reason why teams like Force India, Sauber and Torro Rosso have young promissing drivers. Because they cannot afford to pay £30m – £40m to top drivers like Lewis.

        That would mean they need another big chunk of money to put into the car and make it a regular race winning..otherwise those £40m will be wasted on a driver like Lewis if wins and top finishes are not delivered.

      3. Phil R says:

        I don’t think they do have the money, and even less so that he would go, but it would be interesting to see how much extra Kingfisher Hamilton might sell Vijay Mallya. In the same way that Beckham was paid vast amounts to join Real Madrid and Galaxy, but it was a no brainer in that his shirt sales in the first week covered the cost.

      4. surya kumar says:

        To Phil,
        The Markets of Kingfisher beer are not the same as that of Beckham, Back in India only a handful watch F1 and the majority of the populace could care less who is the media face as long as their beer is cold. Sorry mate but the reality is this. (And just to note, I am huge Fan of Lewis Hamilton).

      5. db4tim says:

        McLaren Ferrari or Red Bull the only teams with money for him

      6. james h says:

        i dont think its all about money(NOT ALL MAYBE 40%) i think its more about his legend,What he’s done in the sport when he’s finished.I think if red bull offers him a drive he would take it but if not then in the last how many years Mclaren have been the 2nd best team.HE will stay with them.Ferrari dont have 2 number 1′s and unless merc show big improvements from now to the end of the year he will not be looking at them.For me its all down to Webber and red bull.

      7. James Clayton says:

        It all depends if the sponsors follow him…

      8. James Clayton says:

        (for Lotus, that is. Force India is a no go I’m sure!)

      9. Kay says:

        James, how big an impact did Merc’s ceasing partership with McLaren have on McLaren in terms of financial muscles?

      10. James Allen says:

        Quite a bit, but they still have some wealthy shareholders in the form of the Bahrainis

      11. Horoldo says:

        James,
        Separate topic, A nice feature to your already fantastic website would be to —–
        Add this type of forum feature to all news and team articles on JA Connect. JA Connect is part of your new website, and your website is the best interactive & informative website for F1 available. What do you think? Possible?

    2. Sinkers says:

      Damon Hill going to Arrows is surely a exercise in what NOT to do. He chose CASH above competitiveness by passing on McClaren because of the money not being good enough and had to endure an awful season with Arrows (barr one race) at the back of the grid.

      There is no way Lewis will be anywhere other than McClaren, Red Bull, Mercedes or (slim chance) Ferrari next year.

      1. Il Leone says:

        With hindsight, it would have been great if Damon had followed Adrian Newey to McLaren in 97, even if the money on offer wasn’t great. Then he could have gone head to head with Mika Hakkinen for the 98 title as well!

    3. brendan says:

      hill didnt go for a big pay day he just wanted championship money,willaims just wanted to pay him peanuts.

      1. Sinkers says:

        Williams ‘let him go’ did they not? Even if McLaren’s offer (to Hill) was not ‘fitting’ of a WC he still chose CASH (from Arrows) over competitiveness which was a mistake. VERY relevant to this discussion about LH.

  13. James Encore says:

    So they want him, he wants to be there; neither will sign on lousy terms. Well there’s a surprise.
    There’s no real benefit to team having 2 from Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton : indeed it seems like a good way of losing the driver’s championship.
    Ferrari always want a good number 2, and a team leader. I can see Ferrari saying they have a better chance of the constructors’ championship replacing Massa.
    I don’t see Vettel going to Ferrari until Alonso takes his Pension.
    If Schumacher retires, then Mercedes need a name. So can they offer Hamilton enough to tempt him away from Mclaren? If I was in Whitmarsh’s chair I’d ask Lewis if he seriously thought he’d have a better chance of winning in any other team. If I was in Hamilton’s chair I’d ask Martin if he seriously thought he’d have a better chance of winning with any other available driver. Then it’s just money. If either loses the other money they’re both fools.

    1. Alanis Morissette says:

      Spot on.

    2. Hendo says:

      exactly!

      (Pity though, because if he did change teams I might be able to become a fan of his)

  14. mayberth says:

    bring kimi home Big Ron~~~ i miss those magical races back then with Kimi X Mclaren combination!!

    1. Kay says:

      Yer exactly. Why no one mentioned Kimi? Kimi did them good back then, it was the team who failed Kimi.

  15. Phil says:

    Would an initial 1 year deal with McLaren, with an extension clause based on key performance metrics be a good middle ground? It would allow Lewis to decide where the best place will be for 2014′s rule changes, and if the team produce another 2009-esque dud he can easily leave.

    1. Ben B says:

      This is what I am hoping for. It seems a fair compromise – theres only so much McLaren can make of the fact they nurtured Hamilton into what he is today.

      As a McLaren fan first, and Hamilton second, I would rather they offered him a 1-year contract on sensible money, but if he wants to chase the megabucks then good luck to him, and I’ll be happy with Button when he’s on form.

  16. Andrew Kirk says:

    What do you make of Massa’s seat at Ferrari James? He has certainly speeded up last two races as the car has improved and much closer to Alonso’s pace in practice and qualifying but spinning off in Canada only sevres to highlight how he is still struggling to pull together a strong weekend. With Webber having just won and Perez on the podium again it doesn’t help matters.

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s not easy to imagine another contract with Ferrari, put it that way. But who to replace him with remains the question

      1. Rob Newman says:

        Jaime Alguersuari would be the perfect candidate!

      2. Matt H says:

        I know this might sound bonkers but how about Schumacher back to Ferrari?

        It’s been close with Nico all season. If his car hadn’t broken down at almost every race, he’d be right up there.

        If Mercedes don’t want Schumi come the end of 2012, I think Ferrari should snap him up.

        I’m day dreaming though… if Michael wants to continue beyond this year, I’m sure it will be with Mercedes.

      3. Søren Kühle says:

        I’d say Perez’s performance is bound to make uncle “Monty” lift an eyebrow or two in Marenello. Especially after he publically called for Perez to get some experience (Meaning results no doubt), before considering him.

        Di Resta?

      4. zombie says:

        At this point, i can think of atleast 2 dozen names who can do better than Massa – the list includes my grandma.

      5. James Allen says:

        Does she have a good karting pedigree?

      6. Romeo G says:

        James Please!! She has been pushing those supermarket Karts(SIC) for years.

      7. zombie says:

        @ James : Yes, she’s gotta a stellar reputation with supermarket karts ! :P And in anyways, she cannot do any worse than what Massa is doing in that little red car.

      8. Martin P says:

        Kovalainen…… surely he’s turned a few heads in the Caterham and he’s already proved to be a loyal number at McLaren. No one thought Massa deserved a chance until Ferrari gave it to him.

  17. Brendan says:

    So basically Ron is saying they’ll have to reduce Hamilton’s salary and hope that because of the relationship he’s built up within the team, he’ll accept it and stay. Judging by Hamilton’s comments on the radio in Monaco and McLaren’s team slip ups I’d say he is closely considering the merit of that relationship.

    1. James Allen says:

      Not necessarily, but it might mean that he won’t get the kind of salary rise XIX might be looking for

      1. Paul says:

        That’s one of the worst moves he’s made, getting XIX involved. It just smacks of where his head was last year. Mixing it with superstars, believing his own hype. I really don’t think their involvement here is going to help. Leave em to David Beckham etc.

      2. James Clayton says:

        If XIX have the ability to smooth-talk McLaren’s sponsors into following Hamilton to whatever team he chooses, then it may well turn out to be one of the smartest moves he ever made.

        A big IF, but…

      3. Dunky says:

        James do you think XIX value other important aspects such as competitiveness, or is the main driver just remuneration with them?

      4. James Allen says:

        I’ve no idea, but competitiveness is essential to a sportsman.

        I imagine that they’ll want more time for LH to service outside sponsors and other means of revenue generation

  18. Illuminatus says:

    This seems overly prtracted to me. Mclaren are too smart too offer him more money than he is currently getting and Ferrari is too cagey to risk running Lewis with Alonso.

    Looks like it will be Mercedes because on a Marketing level (with 2 young, quick, savvy drivers) or on a performance level it makes sense to them. And considering they’re trying to lure him away from his nest, they’re probably going to throw their (enormous) bank at him.

    Add to that, driving for a team that has Ross Brawn and a team with the History, Heritage and Might of Mercedes have their own advantages – pedigree factor.

  19. Tony says:

    What I don’t get is the Vettel to Ferrari link. Historically, the team haven’t favoured having 2 top drivers (though the KR FM situation was a bit of an anomaly). And why risk upsetting the balance when FA is driving fantastically? Wouldn’t a strong number 2 make more sense?

    1. Dunky says:

      Massa was always a number 2. It’s just for one season (2008) he did a better job than the number 1.

      1. Tony says:

        Yeah I know, but the fact is that for 2008 he managed to assert himself as no 1 and he looked like continuing this trend in 2009, had it not been for his accident.

        Anyway, none of this answers my original question!

      2. azac21 says:

        In 2009, I think it was more like Kimi was trying to assert himshelf as No. 2…

  20. Dodge says:

    I think he wouldn’t go far wrong by going to Williams, he could bring the sponsorship and easily see himself winning or at least getting podiums.

  21. pimp's main prophet says:

    Isn’t Abramovich buying in Sauber? The big bucks are there and Ham would have a team built around him. Not to talk about the marketing coup!

  22. Adam says:

    The notion that the McLaren is a flawed car this season is something the media came up with and is not supported by the facts. Lewis will know this and it will factor highly in his considerations. This is not like prior seasons where the car did not work until Silverstone or later. It is working and wining now. Think I am wrong, then why is Lewis atop the world championship?

    By contrast the Mercedes has a lot of potential, but the team/car does need more work, might get there, but Lewis will not see it in a favorable light. He could be a season or more till it all comes good. That leaves RBR as the best option and I doubt he has ANY fear of Vettle in the same car whatsoever and will look at it as a challenge. Why because he has been in a team with two world champions, Alonso and Button. SO RBR could be in with a chance, especially with the quality of cars they turn out via Mr. Newey’s pen
    McLaren will be happy with Button IF Lewis left. The development of the car has for now gone in a direction that favors Lewis. Remember both are very different in driving styles. Button has not found a sweet spot in the car. If the car is right he can make something from any race, if it is outside his zone of comfort…….. So if the car was developed around him they will do well, especially with his tire management skills.

    Lewis is in a situation of marrying his high school sweetheart (McLaren). So look to his track record for what he is likely to do. His old girl friend he split with last year was the one with him in Canada. So likely it is Lewis and Button in 2013. He knows having watched Button that stability is key. This was a painful lesson for him last year and will heavily influence his decision this year.

  23. Tom in adelaide says:

    If I were in charge at McLaren I’d be doing anything in my power to keep Lewis on the payroll, including swapping Jenson out for a cheaper, more clearly defined number two if necessary (Heikki, Kobayashi, there’s plenty of hasslefree talent out there).

    Ask yourself this – if you were at an after-race party and accidentally spilled a drink on Adrian Sutil, who would you want driving you to hospital, Lewis or Jenson? No contest really.

    1. MISTER says:

      What would’ve been your answer if I asked you that question last year, when Lewis was crashing with Massa everywhere?
      A? Who you would’ve wanted to drive you to the hospital?

      1. James Clayton says:

        Hmm I’d have probably still chosen Lewis, so long as I was reasonably sure Massa wouldn’t be anywhere en-route! :)

    2. Kay says:

      Heikki definitely a talent for #2 lol :D

      But what you said don’t make sense to be honest. If you think they’d want a hassle free #2 like Heikki, why did they drop him in the first place?

    3. Alex W says:

      No question, Maylander!

  24. nenslo says:

    I think Hamilton will go for a 1 or 2 year contract on reduced rates and then see how the other teams are faring after that. By this time, Schumi would have retired and the Alonso/Vettel issue at Ferrari would most likely be sorted. This would also bring Button into the mix because his contract ends in 2014 – if he’s still good enough I could see him going to Mercedes to reunite with Ross Brawn.

    In the nearer term, I reckon Massa will be out by the end of this season. He’d have to pull out a miracle to hold onto that seat; I could see Di Resta replacing him – a solid, dependable driver who can utilise the car underneath him.

    1. Ruse says:

      and Di Resta brings that sought-after Italian lineage to the team

      1. Elie says:

        Haha- yes exactly

    2. Kay says:

      lol that Massa-miracle would need him beating Alonso consistently.

      Even tho I hope Massa’d get to stay at Ferrari, I highly doubt it.

  25. Nigel says:

    Both side are negotiating – it’s as simple as that. It’s not unreasonable for Dennis to point out that cash is a little tight right at the moment.

    The outcome will most likely be determined by the performance of both driver and car over the next half dozen races.(Presumably Button’s salary will set the baseline ?)

  26. Nathan Jones says:

    These are just pre-negotiation shenanigans from Ron Dennis. It happens ahead of any formalisation of a contract.

    I can just imagine the smirk on Ron’s face when he says, doing his best to keep a straight face, “You know we are looking at lots of excellent prospects elsewhere, Lewis. Lot of talent that could replace you, both on the grid and in the lower formulae …. just give me a minute, Lewis …. … one sec … ahem! Yes, we’ve had talks with Ricciardo and he’s very interested. And Paul di Resta. Very good talent, that young man. So how about 10 million euros?”

    1. Rach says:

      Then Lewis replies ” good luck Ron with ‘Jenson I can’t get temperature into my tyres Button’ as your number 1 driver”……….

  27. NF1 says:

    Well…..I think there can only be one outcome…..Hamilton to stay at Mclaren for the rest of his career. How many drivers have done that with such success? (James – do you know?) I’m sure that he will get more world championships – and be well paid – even if they don’t come all together. He & Alonso are by far & away the best two drivers on the grid, the others are good but those two are just outsatnding.

    1. James Allen says:

      Jim Clark stayed with one team (Lotus) and won 2 WDCs.

      1. pimp's main prophet says:

        Just a pitty that his career was cut short to be considered in that context. His and Rindt’s death (and those of many others) were all down to Chapman’s deadly madness on lightweight materials and design, completely disregarding the value of life. It took Senna’s death to ban that thinking from F1… Shame on Chapman and his fellas, irrespective of their genius.
        Sorry for this, I had to get it out!

      2. Blade Runner says:

        Plus 1 No need to apologise, its the truth.

      3. Dave Aston says:

        I don’t think you can blame Clark’s death on the fragility of that Lotus F2 car. Wasn’t his accident generally thought to be caused by a tyre failure?

      4. James Clayton says:

        over how many years?

  28. Carl says:

    How can Mercedes pay Lewis Hamilton a massive salary when we all know that the board members and other people at Mercedes were already complaining about the salary of Michael Schumacher which is far away of what Lewis Hamilton’s management team are expecting?

    The Euro is in deep problem. Germany try to show a strict policy on spending. It would be very surprising that they would pay Hamilton and face a catastrophic image of the German flagship company from the German citizen.

    Mclaren should pay Lewis Hamilton as he brings media attention, points and popularity as the company didn’t have since the F1 legends Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

  29. Duncan says:

    I think the best choice for Lewis would be to stay at McLaren, as unless a seat at Red Bull were to open up, I don’t see any attractive alternatives for him. If Lotus manage to firmly get back to Championship contending status, they could be an interesting choice, but I don’t see that happening in the near term.

    I think McLaren and Lewis need each other at this point. That said, if Lewis were to leave, I think that McLaren could fill his seat with either Grosjean or Perez. They look to be potential champions.

  30. DanT says:

    Anyone any idea of what Schumacher is paid? I know money is a bit tight for Mercedes but if he leaves then I would have thought their number one target would be Vettel and if there is enough money I could see the nationalistic attraction for him. That would open the door at RBR for Hamilton. Final piece in that puzzle might be Kimi to Mclaren. In terms of Vettel to Ferrari I think that comes from Vettel himself having that as a long held dream.

  31. Joe Cardoza says:

    I think Lewis made a very silly move in hiring these XIX folk. If anything he should have gone with Didier Coton & Co. to manage his driving side of things and XIX to look out for his commercial side. If McLaren do relax their personal advertising policy trust XIX to poster Lewis in Armani underwear and have his own line for H&M. Thank God he doesn’t have much facial hair or they’d have him advertise for Gillette as well.

    Right now, McLaren need Lewis more than Lewis needs McLaren. And there are absolutely no realistic replacements around. On the other hand James, how do you rate this kid Valteri Bottas? McLaren and Finns go a long way back…

  32. Nathan Jones says:

    Ron: Where’s Simon Fuller?
    Lewis: Having a glass of red with Nicole
    Ron: Phew … Right, I had a good chat with Di Resta today. Very keen to join us, he is.
    Lewis: Oh, really? You should sign him then. He’d be a lot cheaper than me.
    Ron: Well … well … I might just do that.
    Lewis: Good luck to you.
    Ron: Oh, come on, lad, take a 5 mill cut.
    Lewis: What did you say? 5 mill more?
    Ron: Alright, alright, how about the we keep it the same this time round?
    Lewis: Did you just say 10 mill more?
    Ron: Mate, I’ve been like a father to you since you were 11. Doesn’t that mean anything?
    Lewis: And I’ve been a champ for you.
    Ron: …………… massive recession going on, haven’t you heard?
    Lewis: Don’t think I’m not aware how many cars you’re selling on the other side of MTC. You can manage it. Dig deep, ‘Dad’.
    Ron: Not many other teams will have you. Vettel’s got Christian in his pocket. And that …. Spanish guy who’s name I can’t utter doesn’t like you either.
    Lewis: Ron, FERNANDO doesn’t like YOU. He’s cool with me. And as for Red Bull, I went over Christian’s head for this one. Dietrich gave me a call on me mobi yesterday.
    Ron: Did he???? Where did he get your number?
    Lewis: Simon slipped it to him. At a park in Washington.
    Ron: Ok, ok, ok. You understand I had to give it a shot. Ayrton had to toss a coin with me during his negotiations. No hard feelings? Right, where’s that man with the barbie doll hair got to? Has he finished his table wine yet?

    1. femi Akins says:

      Absoluetly brilliant.

      If Lewis pulls that off he should quite his day job and become a negotiator

    2. Andy R says:

      LOL!

    3. Nathan Jones says:

      Ron: Lewis … can I ask you a question?
      Lewis: ‘Course you can, you’ve been like a father to me.
      Ron: You were lying about Red Bull, right? Dietrich never called you.
      Lewis: No, he didn’t.
      Ron: You’ve been in their motorhome again, haven’t you?!!! You turncoat, you! I came over to this race just to make sure you didn’t contact them again and you still managed to sneak in. I told Martin this would happen.
      Lewis: Who?
      Ron: Martin. I told Martin.
      Lewis: Martin who?
      Ron: WHITMARSH!
      Lewis: Oh, Martin. Yeah, yeah. Tall guy, grey hair. I tend to focus on useful people, people who are good at their jobs.
      Ron: Thank Goodness! Someone else who thinks Martin’s useless.
      Lewis: Er … Martin who?
      Ron: WHITMAAAAARRRRSSHH!!!!
      Lewis: Oh, yeah. Guy who’s in charge … ish.
      Ron: I’m thinking of firing him. Don’t know how to break it to the lad though.
      Lewis: Just slot him. Tell him straight.
      Ron: What? Just like that? You’re cold, geezer.
      Lewis: He’d do you in a sec if it meant he got control.
      Ron: Very true. Political beast that boy. Anyway, we digress. About Red Bull …
      Lewis: Yeah, I went to Austria to see Dietrich. Discussed a 3 year contract over some fizzy, sweet stuff?
      Ron: What, Lucozade? LUCOZADE??? Are they leaving us as well? Sonuva …
      Lewis: Chill, just me leaving. We drank Red Bull. Ron, you’re becoming as slow as ….. what was his name? Guy who’s in charge. Martin?
      Ron: Yes, he’s called Martin Whitmarsh. But why would they want you, Lewis?
      Lewis: I’m box office. Simple as that. Fits with their marketing. Yeah, I’m pretty quick too. Christian’s scared that I’ll slap his boy silly, but Dietrich loves the idea of two top guns.
      Ron: No, you’re not quick, Lewis. Jenson is quick. You’re slow. Martin’s pumping his tyres up right now. Himself. And when Martin’s put some of his hot air into them to get them up to temperature, Jenson will roll over you.
      Lewis: Er ….. Martin?

      1. James Allen says:

        I like this..

        We could do a new competition – “Fly on the wall at…” with various scenarios going on in F1 at the moment

        eg Massa meets LDM for cappuccino and contract talks

        I’ll do a post on it later in the week. Sharpen your pens…

      2. Nathan Jones says:

        It’s very slow at work today:

        Felipe: Godfather, it is a long time since I have come to see you. I apologise.
        LDM: … Yes, it has been. Are you angry at me?
        Felipe: No, Godfather. Not at all!
        LDM: … Are you angry at the Team?
        Felipe: Never! I love the Scuderia, Godfather
        LDM: ….. Then why do you disrespect la Familia in this way? What have we done to deserve such treatment?
        Felipe: I … I was not disrespecting anyone. I have been driving my heart out like any passionate Italian.
        LDM: Felipe, you are Brazilian. You are not fast enough to be Italian.
        Felipe: I apologise, Godfather.
        LDM: … My son, would you like a cappucino?
        Felipe: Er … would you like me to have a cappucino, Godfather?
        LDM: Stop being so compliant, boy! Would YOU like a cappucino?!
        Felipe: Yes, I would like a cappucino if you would like me to have a cappucino.
        LDM: Jesus, Mary, Joseph! Felipe, show some spine. How come you only have show guts when Hamilton is trying to overtake you? And even then you are lucky that I have paid off the FIA.
        Felipe: Godfather, you control the FIA??? You mean my moves on Lewis were illegal?
        LDM: Let’s just say horse heads were involved. Boy, your mind is as slow as the cars Pat Fry designs. Did you think those Parma-ham-fisted moves were legal?
        Felipe: I was protecting the honour of la Familia, Godfather. Lewis should not have dared overtake. You should … do away with him.
        LDM: So you would have me send dead fish to Anthony Hamilton?
        Felipe: Fish ….? Fish? No, I want you to -
        LDM: Oh, forget it! … Felipe, what am I to do with you? You are as slow as a barn door … Si, our cars are slower still, but my sweet son, Fernando, manages well enough.
        Felipe: I qualified well at Montreal. It’s a start, no?
        LDM: Yes, but that was because that Englishman finally managed to turn that donkey of a car into a horse. Not a prancing horse, mind.
        Felipe: Give me a chance, Godfather. I will be better in 2013 and WDC in 2014.
        LDM: Felipe, that I cannot allow. The honour of the Family must come first. Marco Webbissimo may be looking for a one year for 2013 – he has Italian fire. For 2014 … I have much bigger plans. Germans have always lacked passion – too much bockwurst, not enough prosciutto – but I may be instilling some soon.

      3. James Allen says:

        Brilliant! Thanks. Can anyone beat that?

      4. Martin P says:

        This sort of stuff is why I don’t bother with PlanetF1…..

  33. pimp's main prophet says:

    Staying in McLaren would be small thinking. Take the challenge – greatness and ambition (both sporting and financial!) must be proved.

  34. Bill Nuttall says:

    Personally I would love to see Hamilton and Alonso back in the same team again, but NOT Ferrari. In my opinion it was the most entertaining inter-team battle since Prost/Senna.
    I vote for the ‘neutral’ ground of Red Bull or Mercedes to host my dream pairing!

  35. Jeroen says:

    Hi James,

    You point to Hamilton’s marketing value should he go to Red Bull. I might be wrong here but I just can’t see Red Bull sell more drinks with Hamilton than with Vettel. On top of that Red Bull’s policy has always been to pick the up-and-coming, young and most of all cheap athletes! I remember not long ago both Webber and Vettel were paid peanuts but with a nice points rewards scheme. In fact Vettel still earns about half what Hamilton does.

    So I don’t think Red Bull is a pay ticket and if he can convince his new money grabbing management they need to look at Red Bull for sporting reasons again I see an issue as how sure is it Adrian Newey is going to stick around and not say return to old love Williams, have a go at Ferrari etc.?

    Mercedes I don’t think is an option either. Mercedes have got in Rosberg a perfect poster boy for European and possibly american market. They will want someone who can appeal to growth markets in Asia and South America in my view.

    Ron Dennis knows Hamilton has not got any real other option and is just telling the folk at XIX where they can stick it :-)

    Welcome to F1 style negotiating XIX, not quite the same as football land I would say..

  36. Warwick says:

    What sort of figures does LH earn now from McLaren and can you speculate on what is possibily/will be on the table from the team?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ve heard its in region of £16m a year. But it could be a little more or less than that.

      1. brendan says:

        must be a big table

  37. Peter says:

    Ron Dennis will look at not only the last win of Hamilton but e.g. last year where his performance was rather erratic. An other factor is in my opinion to look at the future developments of F1 technology and driver characteristics (driving style, strenghts, weeknesses etc.) which were lately so significant in terms of end results. I for once would love to see Kimi back to Mclaren with a three years contract.

    1. James Clayton says:

      Doubt they’d be able to get the steering ‘right’ for him…

  38. Alex says:

    James,

    You suggest a factor at work here could be McLaren’s lack of resources as they no longer have financial support from Mercedes. In the longer term do you see the need for McLaren to find another such partner again?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m sure they’d love to, but there aren’t many manufacturers around in F1 are there?

      1. Nathan Jones says:

        Let’s not forget that McLaren themselves are now becoming something of a manufacturer. They plan on pumping out quite a lot of units of the MP4-12C.

        They’ve probably got more money than we think/assume, but they are feigning a lack of wealth to keep the negotiations down.

      2. Blade Runner says:

        Totally agree, the new road car will be making them a fortune, if not just yet but soon, once they ramp up production and expand the range, spreading the development costs over more models.

        Oh and dont forget “poor” company’s dont pay 100 million fines and continue in business as if nothing happened.

        IMO they can easily afford to continue his current payments and a lot more if needed but they are just playing the normal price negotiation games that every company does when doing this type of thing.

    2. Dunky says:

      Honda know how to build a V6 Turbo… Mclaren Honda sounds familar :)

      Would be a massive decision to part with Mercedes though.

  39. Qiang says:

    Hi James,
    Do you think it’s a bit too early for Hamilton to leave McLaren? McLaren still has the quickest car in the grid although with a small margin. Without Ron Dennis and Mclaren, the chance for Hamilton to be where he is now could be very slim. He has not achieved that much to pay back to the team chosen him over Alonso in 2007.
    My other question is about the rumored engine deal for McLaren with Honda. Any new development on that? Thanks!

    1. Fantomius says:

      and what had Alonso achieved since he was beaten by rookie-Hamilton in 2007 and he escaped as quick as light because his undisputed-Number-One-status wasn’t respected? LOL LOL and again LOL

  40. Paige says:

    The easiest solution here is for McLaren to let Hamilton have his own sponsors. This is a tried, tested, and true strategy in F1 for keeping mega-talents happy with their compensation and, more importantly, winning grands prix and world championships for your team. Senna with McLaren, Schumacher with Ferrari, etc. etc.. And it will free McLaren of some cash to spend on car development.

    It would be really foolish if the deal is made or broken on this condition, and McLaren can’t bring themselves to change their driver policy for one of the most special F1 talents in a generation. In the most competitive F1 season in decades in which performance is determined by so many complexities, it’s no coincidence who the top-3 drivers in the championship standings are this year. They just happen to be the three best drivers in the sport at the moment, and Hamilton has been the best of them. Does Ron Dennis really think that Jenson Button can take it to Vettel in a Red Bull and Alonso in a Ferrari? Or that the likes of di Resta or Perez could?

  41. Darren says:

    I think this whole thing depends on whether Schumacher stays at Mercedes. I dont think Ferrari and Red Bull want or need Hamilton, Alonso will have No1 status written into his contract, they wont be about to revoke that so theres no way Lewis would want to go and play second fiddle to Alonso. So long as Vettel delivers the goods (which he is) he will remain Red Bulls golden boy and they wont want anyone else to upset him, Mark Webber spat the dummy so just imagine what Lewis would be like.

    It also depends on whether Ferrari keep Massa, despite his improved performances I dont think he is doing enough. I’m surprised Ferrari have kept him this long to be honest, they have proven to be pretty cut throat in getting rid of drivers recently (how many people sack Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen in the space of 3 years). I like Massa but I think he is a bit of a Button / Barrichello, by that I mean on his day he is untouchable but the problem is his day doesnt come around often enough.

    I could see Vettel wanting to move to Ferrari at some point, he grew up idolising Schumacher in his glory days, he cares a lot about the history of F1 and the prestige so I think it is a certainty that he will want having been a Ferrari driver on his CV for when he hangs his helmet up, I think he will replace Alonso or partner him in a few years time.

    As others have said I doubt Mercedes would want to shell out for Hamilton. They wont get rid of Rosberg and there is no real reason for them to get rid of Schumacher, I havent looked at the stats but this year I think he is pretty evenly matched with Rosberg, he has just been hellish unlucky / foolish. I also think Mercedes as a company like having two German drivers, it does their image in Germany no harm.

    So Mclaren is the only real option, what Ron Dennis was saying I think is just “Ron Speak” for “times are a bit hard, if you stay here you wont be getting as much as you have been”. I think he will stay at Mclaren on a yearly contract as Senna did.

    I wonder if Mclaren could entice Kimi Raikkonen to come back, now that would be a bargining tool…

    Anyway thats my somewhat lengthy tu-pence worth.

  42. Trixie says:

    Why don’t Lewis leave and make way for Kimi to finish some unfinished WDC business with McLaren….Kimi and Jenson will complement each other – Jenson has good ‘grip’ for media and sponsor management whilst Kimi can concentrate on the racing.
    But then again, if the decision rests with Ron, Kimi’s last year at McLaren does not bode well for this scenario!

  43. F12012 says:

    Hamilton’s options look like either stay at Mclaren or move to red bull, this all depends on what webber is going to do next year, can’t see Hamilton at Ferrari

    If Mclaren are looking at options for Hamilton’s seat, di resta must be at the top of the list, and if so, I wonder has mclaren been in touch with his manager Anthony Hamilton, talk about a conflict of interests

    More likely to happen di resta to Mercedes to replace Schumacher if he decides to retire

  44. ben says:

    He should stay at Mclaren. It’s not clear to me that Red Bull are going to continue dominating and Mclaren/Ferrari seem to be the best bet moving forwards.

    1. Doobs says:

      It’s time to see Hami’s mettle. Take the lazy route and re-sign for Maccas. He needs them, they need him and realistically neither have any options. The only sticking point is the money.

      Or, go to another team; Sauber, Lotus, FI or Williams – and do a Schumi. He can bring his own sponsors with him so moneywise he’d probably not be any worse off. Build the team up around him, WDC, become legend. Big call though and probably not very likely given his temperament.

  45. mike says:

    James, what about Hamilton moving to Williams next year? I know none of the journalists have focused on this as a serious option but I see the merits.. He could replace Senna, guaruntee himself no.1 driver, build the team around him and be responsible for bringing Williams back to the top… What do you think? Could Williams afford him? He’d have to sacrifice a year or 2 where he would definitely not win the drivers title but worth it in the long run. I see him ‘fitting in’ there pretty well for some reason!

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t see that, for a number of reasons, not least money and competitiveness

    2. Kay says:

      I think Lewis associate Senna with McLaren more than with Williams. Senna’s success came with the former, not latter.

      Just do a search on YouTube for “Hamilton Senna McLaren Top Gear” and see Hammy driving that car. It was like sex to him!

      1. mike says:

        I meant replace Bruno. I should have been clearer… But i get your point :)

  46. Jungle Juice says:

    If Lewis fails to win the championship this year because the car/team/strategy didn’t work, then why not leave? He wants to win championships, and who better than Adrian Newey to give him the tools to pull it off.

    Obviously this all hinges on what Webber does. If he bolts to Ferrari to replace Massa, then I can picture this playing out. If Webber stays, then LH will probably stay.

    I don’t think Mercedes is a serious option at all. Yes they have the money, but not the car. I view Ferrari as a dark horse in all this. They could potentially make a play for Hammy, just depends if they are willing to weather the storm of having two #1s under the same roof.

  47. MISTER says:

    James, a bit offtopic here.
    I’ve just seen a clip on the BBC website about Schumacher’s DRS failure and it looked to me like Michaels eyes were in tears and just after.

    I hope he keeps his morale up, because his pace is good and its not his fault the car keeps breaking down. I am one of those which think Schumi deserves his seat this season, and I wish to see him at his best again.

    1. James Allen says:

      Probably a bit of grit in his eye….

  48. Methusalem says:

    It’s mind-blowing how big the difference in earnings between the various drivers is, They all seem to do the same kind of job.

    1. Fernando Alonso (ESP-Ferrari): 30.000.000 euros

    2. Lewis Hamilton (GBR-McLaren): 16.000.000
    Jenson Button (GBR-McLaren): 16.000.000

    4. Sebastian Vettel (GER-Red Bull): 10.000.000

    Mark Webber (AUS-Red Bull): 10.000.000

    Felipe Massa (BRA-Ferrari): 10.000.000

    Nico Rosberg (GER-Mercedes): 10.000.000

    8. Michael Schumacher (GER-Mercedes): 8.000.000

    9. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN-Lotus): 5.000.000

    10. Heikki Kovalainen (FIN-Caterham): 4.000.000

    11. Timo Glock (GER-Marussia): 3.000.000

    12. Kamui Kobayashi (JAP-Sauber): 1.000.000

    Romain Grosjean (FRA-Lotus): 1.000.000

    14. Nico Hulkenberg (GER-Force India): 500.000

    Sergio Pérez (MEX-Sauber): 500.000

    Vitaly Petrov (RUS-Caterham): 500.000

    Pedro de la Rosa (ESP-HRT): 500.000

    18. Pastor Maldonado (VEN-Williams): 400.000

    Daniel Ricciardo (AUS-Toro Rosso): 400.000

    Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA-Toro Rosso): 400.000

    21. Bruno Senna (BRA-Williams): 250.000

    Narain Karthikeyan (IND-HRT): 250.000

    23. Paul di Resta (GBR-Force India): 200.000

    24. Charles Pic (FRA-Marussia): 150.000.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think the figure is too high for Alonso, Webber and Button and not high enough for Vettel

      1. smellyden says:

        Yes I remember you saying about Webber that his retainer is low but the performance part of his package is high.

        James how does the performance part of drivers contract work? Is there a win bonus? Is there a bonus for getting a point? Obviously at the top end of the grid it can work like that, but at the bottom? How does HRT reward its drivers for a good performance?

      2. James Allen says:

        For some it’s wins, for others its points. For others its weighted more on retainer and less on results.

        Red Bull does tend to have a lower retainer and higher points bonus

    2. Darren says:

      Is this without points and win bonuses ?

    3. Dodge says:

      I am very slowly becoming a Paul di Resta fan, he has regulary impressed over the last two years, and he is probably not complaining about his wage, good on him.

      1. James Allen says:

        He keeps his head down and gets on with the job. I’d like it if he celebrated his successes a bit more. After Singapore last year he wasn’t smiling and I always think that you should enjoy the good days as a sportsman because there are plenty of bad ones.

      2. Elie says:

        Yes totally agree with that James – it was like his granny passed away or something. Even Pastors win was pretty Low key .It’s ok to be jubilant as a winning youngster at the pinnacle of Motorsport ! Congrats on your 200000 !

      3. Kay says:

        James I like this comment of yours, and I’m gonna steal it for my facebook’s fav quotes lol

    4. Mike from Colombia says:

      This list was compiled by a Spanish publication if I am not wrong – and probably put together to by them to boost Alonso as being head and shoulders over the rest.

      Button on EUR 16m seems way too high. Likewsise Massa on Eur 10m.

      Would not pay much credence to the figures of the order.

      1. James Allen says:

        Actually Massa on 10m isn’t too high. That’s probably about right.

    5. Kay says:

      Kimi is earning pennies in comparison to his Ferrari days.. O____O

  49. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Dennis talking after a win, it is a yes from Hamilton to McLaren.

    Money is not a dealbreaker IMO.

  50. I would have thought Mercedes would be interested in securing Vettel for the long term, as Schumacher’s heir – surely they would prefer Vettel to Hamilton

    Cannot see Lewis at Ferrari whilst Alonso is there, the team is being built around Alonso and they have historically preferred a leader and good no.2 driver.

    With huge regulation changes in 2014 I would have thought the only other place outside of McLaren (assuming Ferrari is not an option) where Lewis would go is Red Bull because that is where Adrian Newey is, and if you had to place a bet on which team will design the best car in 2014 it would be Newey and Red Bull.

    So in summary, I would have thought Alsono continues to lead Ferrari and they take another experienced good driver, possibly Webber

    Mercedes will not pitch for Hamilton if they think they can offer Vettel a long term deal

    Lewis should stay at McLaren or go to Red Bull

    1. mansell says:

      why does everyone only go on about Adrian Newey. Not taking anything away from the guy, clearly extremely talented, but would say that Ross Brawn is a good bet. Has created several championshop winning cars and seems to be adept at coming up with innovative concepts that really set apart: double diffuser and double DRS.

      On that note, I wonder why no one picks up Gary Anderson, seems to always make the right calls. Sure he would help a few teams make better strategic calls

      1. Kay says:

        Actually it wasn’t Brawn, but Rory Bryne who is the opposite of Newey.
        Nonetheless Brawn gathered a great number of talents and moved Merc GP up the grid this year, so for sure he knows how to put jigsaws into place, so not counting out MercGP

    2. Kay says:

      If you look back at history, Newey’s cars are good when there are huge regulation changes. As time moves on with regulations pretty much stable, his cars fades.

      This year is a kinda like a repeat of 2000 with performances of his designs.

  51. Roger W says:

    So where is all this hypothetical extra cash to keep Hamilton at McLaren coming from? Perhaps they will reduce Whitmarsh and Dennis’ salary and give the surplus to Hamilton. They don’t have a bottomless pit of cash – also I can’t quite get my head around Vettel going to Ferrari somehow – they don’t do 2 Number One drivers very well…

    1. Kay says:

      No one said they cannot do two #1s LOL :D :D
      A bit of an idiotic trick move by Ferrari if they does that tho LOL. Alonso would be bald overnight.

  52. Steve JR says:

    It seems unlikely Lewis will be making his contractual decisions based on money. Primarily his decision will be based on which team can put him in a car that will give him the best chance of winning the WDC.

    The last 2 years RB produced a car that won the WDC but that doesn’t mean this year or next year they’re going to be doing the same again. The reality is that any of the top 3 teams could produce the winning package and it’d be a gamble for Lewis to switch to RB or Ferrari (assuming moons aligned for that to happen)

    This is simply Lewis and his management team trying to get the best deal they can from McLaren.

    1. Kay says:

      Lewis won’t base his decision on money but ah-ha, XIX will, sadly enough.

  53. Phil R says:

    I think Hamilton will stay as its the best option for him, but I think McLaren have an issue in that if he did leave, the list of candidates to replace him is so short. There is Di Resta, which is very possible, but there is still the issue that Mercedes might want to keep hold of him. Other than that, Kobayashi?? I can’t think of anyone else who isn’t tied up/they would be interested in.

    A line up with Button with his current problems, and Kobayashi who whilst great and should win races (but a championship would be a stretch), but is looking increasingly like the number 2 is a pretty weak line up.

  54. Richard says:

    I think it is a bit of posturing on both sides, but I think the reality is that currently they need each other. Arguably McLaren have made a lot of mistakes plus designed some indifferent cars over the last three years. If Lewis did leave it would be Red Bull or Ferrari, Mercedes have not shown they can produce a proper front running car not to be confused with a car that’s got to or near the front due to set up and balance.

  55. aderac says:

    Cant help but think that choosing XIX was a poor decision that reflects the Hamilton who likes the celebs and fame, rather than when he first came to F1 to be the best and smash records.

  56. Colin B says:

    I wonder if LH will want to wait to see if he wins the WDC before making a decision. If he can get a second title maybe he will be more willing to go to a team not quite consistently in the top tier (Merc or Lotus), if no second WDC maybe he will rather be at McLaren. He may see them as having a better chance for a championship.

    Though it would be fun to see him at Ferrari in the same car as Alonso. Imagine an entire season of who is faster debate: Alonso or Hamilton.

    1. Kay says:

      I think we’ve witnessed they are both just as fast in 2007, it’ll be a question of who’s the #1 lol. Could be a shared #1 which’d be pretty stupid but entertaining for us to watch heh :D

  57. Ashboy says:

    I think Weber will go to Ferrari, KImi will go to RB. Paul-de-resta will be Nico’s team mate at Merc. Ham to stay put

  58. Il Leone says:

    Having read all the comments, I think LH is best placed to stay at McLaren until his second title (if it comes!).
    If Mercedes weren’t so tepid about their future involvement in the sport, I think Lewis and Nico would be a phenomenal duo.
    But I can’t see Ferrari or Red Bull offering a better bet than what he has now at Macca.
    Unless Uncle Roman decides to invest BIG in Sauber next year, alongside Carlos Slim. Then you could be talking about a whole new ball game.

  59. wezza says:

    Lewis will sign a one year extended contract, then move to Mercedes

  60. Mike from Colombia says:

    My messages have not been going through for over a month – hopefully changing my name will help

  61. Mike from Colombia says:

    As long as Alonso and Vettel will not move over – McLaren does not have a leg to stand on in terms of negotiation at the moment.

    Hamilton is too valuable an asset for them – bith as a driver and an attraction for sponsors.

    Could you really see sponsors lining up to be part of the “exciting” line up of Jenson Buttonas No.1 driver along with Paul “one pit-stop only” Di Resta?

    If Hamilton goes then Vodafone have a good case of not paying as much money for sponsorship going forward.

    Fuller might be a great marketing man, but how good a negotiator is he? He is an enigma. His last foray into F1 was the baffling “my earth dream”.

    And why XIX entertainment. Why the obsession with 19…is this the average age of the reality show contestant that it exploits?

    If Hamilton goes then McLaren’s sponsors will be none too pleased and will feel that they are paying to sponsor a B team driver pairing. What about the McLaren brand itself with its road car programme? How much would this be devalued without having a top level driver in the team.

    An unhappy and undervalued Hamilton is of no use to the team either. McLaren will have to pay.

    James, I am sure that I have heard Dennis repeat very similar words about Ayrton Senna’s salary in 1993-1994. If anyone can find them then it would be great to compare them wit what he is saying today.

  62. mansell says:

    So Ron goes from offering 5m more to stay last week to saying that there is not any more money. Definitely someone on the weaker side of the negotiating table. Of course Mclaren wil win races without Lewis, but not as many as if he stayed while he is racing. Not sure how sensible it would be for Lewis to leave before the big regulation change in a couple of seasons. He only needs to look to his idol to see that. Senna quickly realised that Williams were not invincible once all the gadgets were banned on the car. That said I reckon he will go to Red Bull if he gets the chance. Which I think could be like Prost and Senna at Mclaren all over again.

    Lewis’ management are likely to gain additional revenue streams which is the only way he will truely earn a fortune (relatively of course, as he already is). Clearly Ron Dennis is aware of how much that would cost which is why they are against it. Also I suspect Lewiswill cut down on his Mclaren duties as he has expressed this previously.

    Regarding Schui I think the relationship is with Ross rather than Ferrari. Can see Vettel going there in time, but will not be for a while.

  63. Wade Parmino says:

    I wonder if McLaren are regretting the 3 year contract they signed with Button last year.

    1. Kay says:

      MW must be ripping his hair out!

  64. Mark says:

    So Ron is actually saying, ‘we want him but he is demanding unreasonable money’.

    As much as I dislike Lewis personally – he seems quite weak and shallow character-wise, his driving skills are absolutely fantastic.

    I just hope that XIX is not pushing him to go where the biggest pot of money is.

    Hopefully Lewis will surprise me and accept the best prospect drive-wise rather than salary-wise.

  65. Neshaen says:

    90% sure that LH will remain at McLaren. Not many options available to him. Ferrari a no go because of Alonso (and the chance that Vettel could land up in Ferrari). Mercedes is an option BUT they haven’t got it all together! Mercedes in definitely improving BUT lack the final “wow” factor! Maybe – just maybe LH is what Mercedes needs next year! Will wait and see! LH will not be going to Red Bull unless Vettel jumps ship!
    Looks more likely that LH will renew his stay at McLaren (probably a one/two year deal – with performance related clauses)
    2014 is when we will see big changes in the driver market!

  66. Daniel says:

    Hi James,

    Slightly off topic but inline with your comments re outside sponsorship for Hamilton and Aryton Senna’s Nacional baseball cap…Why is it that Paul Di Resta never wears a baseball cap? Admittadly his teammate Hulkenberg wears one for personal sponsorship reasons, but Di Resta never even wears a team cap! Seems quite unusual…

    1. Sinkers says:

      “Cap-gate” beckons…

    2. Kay says:

      Kingfisher has insufficient funds to make one for each driver heh

  67. Paul Hallett says:

    Another thing to consider is whether Hamilton will be WDC, as then, his bargaining power will be that much higher.

    For what it is worth, I believe he’s waiting to see what develops through the season, is being guided well, and will make a decision based on what team will give him the best chance of more race wins; I believe he thinks more about the legacy he will leave, than the money he has, for lets face it, he’s an incredibly wealthy young man, and, accidents aside, probably has another 9 to 10 years in the sport, so has plenty of time to build on his little nest egg.

    I also see him at Ferrari, but probably when he hits his peak, which he hasn’t, in 4 years time.

    As for people denying the lad has talent, well, you’re obviously not students of the sport, for he’s exceptional, and defintely dines from the top table.

  68. Sinkers says:

    One thing to consider is that Lewis may feel the new to ‘prove’ himself outside of McLaren.

    Obviously as a one time WDC he doesn’t really have anything to prove, but it probably niggles a little bit all this McLaren protégé business, team built around him, relationship with Ron etc.

    Therefore he might be tempted to move elsewhere just to show that he can do it at another team, even if pure logical reasoning concludes that staying at McLaren makes the most sense.

    In the Senna film Ron Dennis makes the point that when Senna moved to Williams he felt that Senna underestimated the impact of leaving the ‘family’ at McLaren and working with a bunch of new guys who don’t really know you and aren’t plugged into your mindset etc. Putting competitiveness to one side (or lack of it) he saw a man less happy than before.

    This is a good point really. When the differences in performance are as marginal as they are now between Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren why take both the risk in moving and the pain of integrating into a new team?

    Protracted negotiations may well help McLaren because I see Lewis winning 2 out of the next 5 races and if that happens he will likely have a decent lead in the WDC and it will make the decision to stay at McLaren all the easier.

    1. James Allen says:

      Interesting point. Probably more significant is the sheer level of competition now.

      He has to beat Alonso and Vettel, both ultra high calibre drivers, not to mention drivers like Button, Webber, Rosberg who are also winners. Then there’s Raikkonen, Schumacher and the upcoming guys. It’s a competitive time to be a top GP driver…

      Compare it to mid 1990s, or early 2000s for example..

    2. Dave Aston says:

      Similar to Vettel’s situation with Red Bull, growing up with that team. I reckon Hamilton will flourish in new surroundings, but where can he go? That said, I think what Dennis said indicates that they’ve already lost him; I just don’t know if there’s a better drive out there for him. Somehow, I think Kimi would be a better fit at Red Bull, personality wise, with Vettel, and Hamilton could go to Bennetton/Toleman.

  69. mayhemfunkster says:

    I think Hamilton should change teams. We can await to see however 2012 engs but regardless of success or not, he would benefit from a change IMO.

    Perhaps racing drivers think differently, but I would think that after 3 years of trying perhaps both Hamilton and McLaren need a fresh start.

    For instance, his presence at Mercedes could shake that team up a bit and give Hamilton a new type of challenge.

    Red Bull would be a more short term thing for success, but would be more interesting for fans.

    None of this could be the most copmetitve option for Lewis, but how much more of his career can he do the same thing at McLaren?

    If he won a championship in 2012 then the case for a fresh start is even more justified.

  70. simon says:

    Well, let’s see later this year what Webber and Schumacher decide on.

  71. Mike from Colombia says:

    James, it seems that there are some parallels with the Senna negotiations in 1993:

    a) Global recession
    b) Star driver has not won the title for the last 2 years (3 years in Hamilton’s case)
    c) McLaren had just produced its first road car the McLaren F1 a year earlier
    d) McLaren was seeking a new engine partner

    I can distinctly remember a interview with Ron Dennis where he reflects that Senna’s salary demands were deflecting resources from the rest of the company.

    McLaren is a much bigger team now and driver salaries must be a lower % of the overall budget.

    It would be great if someone could try to find the words from the Ronster’s interview – if only to get an insight as to how he thinks when negotiating.

    1. James Allen says:

      Remember his anguish when Senna left, as is very clear in the Senna movie.

  72. Kay says:

    Didn’t Ron promise Lewis a McLaren F1 if he wins another title? It’s very likely if Lewis chooses to stay he’d win another title with them.

    Lewis don’t want that now and prefer SLS AMG / Red Bull drinks / a Ferrari supercar?

    I’d pick the McLaren F1 any day! :D :D :D

  73. pallys says:

    XIX/Fuller are very shrewd. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have already made contact with McLaren sponsors. Some of them are there because of the global exposure Hamilton has. (Button isn’t marketable this year).

    McLaren are taking a big risk by asking Hamilton to take a pay cut, because if he does leave, the net result may cost them as the sponsorship money will follow wherever Hamilton goes.

    Fuller knows it, thats why they competed for Hamilton’s services, Hamilton knows it, even Dennis knows the sponsorship draw Hamilton brings, he’s just playing hard ball, trying to lower Hamilton’s expectations, but he’s dealing with the wrong guys (XIX).

  74. kenny davies says:

    Lewis wiill end up at Red Bull – for many reasons; if he has any common sense. The ”drinks company” are the ones most likely to provide him with a championship winning car. Even if McLaren can provide a car competitive enough to win the title next season, they will make a meal of it via their less than sharp strategies and uneccessay errors. Red Bull have shown it’s strategy is often at the sharp end more often than not in the past 3 seasons whilst McLaren make life difficult for themselves – even when Big Ron was there (Ron lost him a championship in China by not pitting him when it was clear that his tyres were shot).

    Also, from a marketing perspective, Red Bull would be insane if they do not have plans to sign Lewis at some point in the future. Lewis has the box office draw, he single handedly put F1 on the map for many casual fans, and is the best known F1 driver outside of Europe. In fact, if you mention F1 anywhere in Africa, Lewis’s name immediately crops up, followed only by a certain Messrs Schumacher. He is the first black F1 driver, the Tiger Woods of F1. He has the superstar girlfriend, and counts Hollywood stars as his friends. His image is young, vibrant and dynamic. If this combo cannot sell fizzy energy drinks whose brand is marketed as young vibrant and dynamic – then nothing can. It would be a particularly explosive synergy.

    The Red Bull owner is not stupid. The primary purpose of the company is to sell more drinks, and Lewis can do this over and above any driver on the grid – far more than Vettel can. Add to the fact that he is just as likely to win them a championship as Vettel, then the decision to pursue him becomes a no brainer.
    Lewis has also indicated he is happy to face Vettel or indeed Alonso in the same car, but they both dont seem less tha enthusiatic about the prospect, as it would present a clear threat their number one status in their prospective teams – and Horner even seems more scared than Vettel is.

    Lewis only has 2 options – Red Bull or McLaren. The crunch will be based on if McLaren allow him to have his own sponsors. Lewis wants to win more championships and has already indicated several times that he would gladly take a pay cut if he could get a championship winning car. Red Bull can give it to him, and so can McLaren (if they stop tripping over themselves). But there is brand Lewis to contend with. IMO this is the big elephant in the room. With Red Bull, he can get a big pay day, probably get a winning car, but no brand Lewis. With McLaren, they are already fudging on the big payday, and the winning car is more of a hit and miss . So if he resigns with McLaren, he may have to take a salary less than at Red Bull, and no guarantee of no strategy cock-ups as is the norm for McLaren – so it will all come down to if he is allowed to develop his brand. Imagine Lewis doing a Pepsi or Coke advert!

  75. Fantomius says:

    The point for me, is not the amount of money, which for sure is massive. The point is Hamilton is paid something like 15-20 millions euros per year and Alonso (reportedly) 30 millions… So, how the hell could a a younger and faster driver accept to get paid nearly a half of an older less-quick colleague?? And, even though Ron’s arguments are reasonable, how can he “complain” money issues after having resigned Button’s contract in 2011 (one year ago!)for 12 millions euros per season?? If they have 12 millions for Button, they HAVE to find out at least 24-25 for Lewis. Or they will end to be a “Button-team”. Good, but not enough. Losers.

  76. Kay says:

    Funny isn’t it?

    Soooooooooooo many drivers wish to join top teams like McLaren, even more wish to simply drive in F1 as their career. He’s lucky enough to be in F1, especially in a top team straight away, yet Hamilton is the only one who’s considering not wanting to be there?!

    He really needs to be told how mighty lucky he is. I wish F1 is my career and driving for McLaren.

    1. Fantomius says:

      You’re surely right in general terms, but your point is a bit unrealistic. I mean, everyone would be happy even to drive a f1 car, but Hamilton is a rare talent. He would have been in Formula 1 in any case, sooner or later, even without McLaren support. And drivers like him could’n accept to drive. They want to race. And win. Why Alonso isn’t stayed at Renault? He was lucky, too, wasn’t he?

      1. Kay says:

        My point is more focused on being a top team, which Hamilton is currently having the luxury of being in. Alonso’s Renault was in a decline.

    2. Yafet says:

      How mighty lucky he is? That’s like saying Kobe Bryant is lucky to have the Lakers.

      It’s the other way around, my friend. Hamilton is a rare talent and he’s McLaren’s best shot at another WDC and WCC, given Button’s lackluster performance as of late.

      And as Fantomius wrote earlier, Hamilton’s sheer skill set would’ve guaranteed him a driver’s spot regardless. I’d hate to see Hamilton leave, but if McLaren doesn’t improve their support system, he’s got no choice.

  77. Fay Ridd says:

    Lewis will only stay if he has a winning car all the cockups in the pit lane are sorted I don’t think money talks he is a passionAte racer with all the fanese and makes formula one all the drivers should be grateful to him he has made f1 more watchable and exiiting so what ever team he goes to it will be money well spent. Theres no one out there who can better Lewis on the track you either have it or you don’t no money can buy that .hea what Mohammed did for boxing he’s done for racing, fay bristol

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