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Mercedes: “We want to be a team every driver wants to drive for”
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Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Sep 2012   |  6:19 pm GMT  |  133 comments

Lewis Hamilton faced the media today, 24 hours after BBC’s Eddie Jordan launched the story about him moving to Mercedes. So too did Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn, who said that he wants Mercedes to be a team every driver would want to drive for.

Hamilton denied that a deal was done with Mercedes, but did not say he wasn’t talking to them. He also said he didn’t know where he would be driving next season.

Mercedes did not deny that they were negotiating with Hamilton, but said that they wouldn’t comment. McLaren say only that Hamilton’s management have told them it’s not true, while Hamilton himself says that he is in “advanced talks with McLaren” and that money is not what interests him; “I just want to win” he said.

It seems that in recent weeks the talks with McLaren had stalled somewhat over money and terms and in the lull, Mercedes opened a serious dialogue with Hamilton. That’s where it is.

The door is still open for McLaren to come back and seal a deal with Hamilton, which many F1 insiders believe will be the outcome, while Mercedes has clearly put an offer to him, is serious about it and Hamilton is “in a good position”, as he puts it.

Although it seems things aren’t quite as advanced as Jordan’s story suggested, it would be a great mistake to say that there’s nothing to the story. Clearly Hamilton has an option, albeit one which comes with some uncertainty about competitiveness give the Brackley based team’s competitiveness.

There could be other commercial interests involved, sponsors who might back a Hamilton presence at Mercedes but who are conflicted with existing McLaren sponsors, for example.

The key question is, in whose interests is it that Jordan put the story out? Nothing like this happens in F1 without a reason. It could help Hamilton to negotiate, by creating a sense of loss for McLaren, but it doesn’t seem to have been his camp that leaked it. It’s certainly not in McLaren’s interests, on the face of it, while it gives Mercedes a chance to see what life might be like with Hamilton attached.

Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal said, “We never comment on speculation. When we make our driver decision you’ll be the first to hear about it.

“Lewis is a very good driver. We want to be a team that every driver wants to drive for. We’ve got a tremendous history to live up to, we’ve not there yet. But the plan we have in place, particularly with the changes in regulations in the next couple of years.”

And where does this leave Schumacher? Perhaps he has to wait and see what Mercedes come to him with once this process has been gone through.

Mercedes are ahead of schedule on the 2014 engines, a new technology that interests Brawn, who says that he wants to steer the team through the transition to the new rules and has no plans to retire.

The customer teams, including McLaren, expect to get the details of the new 2014 engine, its length, height, weight and installation details around April next year so that they can start the design of the 2014 cars.

Although the chassis department of Mercedes knows that information already, customer teams do not feel that the works team will have any significant advantage, as April is early enough for customers to be able to get an optimised design around the new unit.

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133 Comments
  1. Matt W says:

    If Hamilton goes to Mercedes I think it is fair to say he would have been swayed mainly by the cash. Mercedes have gone absolutely nowhere over the last 3 seasons. I thought 2009 was a breakthrough but it seems it was just a very fortunate gamble on the diffuser.

    I just feel there is something not right in the DNA of that Mercedes team and a driver like Hamilton would be crazy to take that gamble. Mercedes would be better off with another season or two with Schumacher to see if he can get anything out of the team.

    1. JTW says:

      Your comments about Mercedes success could have been made about Red Bull a few years ago. Nothing is constant, and there is no reason, in the ups and downs of F1, that Mercedes won’t be at the top of the heap in the future.

      1. James Allen says:

        Very good point – RBR were down in 7th then 5th then made their way up.

        Newey and Vettel were the two key components there. Mercedes needs to put together its own combination

      2. Sebastian says:

        What about Räikkönen for Mercedes? Norbert Haug seems to have very high regards of Kimi well aware that poor reliability of the Mercedes engines early on stopped one or two shots at the WDC for him at McLaren.

    2. Liam in Sydney says:

      They are hardly “nowhere”, as they have actually won a race and dominated the field for a while this year. But your sentiments are true. If Mercedes was getting better each race right now rather than going backwards, he may be far more likely to take that punt.

    3. daphne says:

      He may not be chasing the cash; he’s already pretty rich in comparison to most of us. It’s possibly the thought of working with Brawn that interests him, but then JB worked with Brawn and left for McLaren when he saw the opportunity and he seems pretty happy there now (once they figured out the tires). It’s a weird situation though – LH has had great, great support from his McLaren stable. Maybe he just wants to try something new, maybe there is nothing in this story at all, and you are right about the cash and this is all a creation to assist his negotiations – we don’t really know what is going on inside someone else’s head. Don’t feel that is all there is to it though. Saying “I just want to win” might be a shot across the bows to McLaren – i.e. “make me the #1 driver like Alonso is at Ferrari and give me all the best bits”. Again, it’s all in all a weird story. Smells of fish somehow. There is more to it than cash and more to it than drama. It could just be the tail wagging the dog.

    4. John Z says:

      No guts, no glory, right? Hamilton is a WDC. He knows he can win it again. It would be a great challenge to do so at Mercedes and perhaps that’s what he really wants, the challenge of bringing a second tier team to the top. Winning a WDC at Mercedes would be the greatest accomplishment of his career.

    5. Wayne says:

      Yes, all sports people like to wax lyrical about how ‘it’s not the money that counts’ – but it bloddy-well almost always always is and it’s insulting for them to suggest otherwise. It’s fine that it’s about the money! Sports people have short careers during which they need to maximise their earnings and they have often sacraficed much at an early age to get to where they are. Just be honest about it!

      Simon Cowell was on radio 4 yesterday saying ‘it’s not about the money it’s the winning thatn counts’ – what? How stupid does he think we are? Rather be a poor winner or a rich looser, Simon?

    6. Who knows, Mercedes have the resources and people to become dominant. Red Bull came from nowhere. McClaren had a good car in 2007 and 2008 (about equal with Ferrari). A dog for at least half of the 2009 season (yet LH was still able to win races). And a mediocre car in 2010 and 2011 (mediocre in comparison with the immediate competition). McClaren the car is not going nowhere, it is going downhill. This year a decent car sometimes, but worryingly they have not been able to keep ahead after having the fastest car at the start of the season (and of course the mistakes, without which LH would be up there with Alonso, if not ahead).

      McClaren also have not won a constructors title this century, don’t remember the last one they did win.

      It’s not such a straightforward choice and I cannot believe it is all about the money

    7. iceman says:

      The success of the 2009 car wasn’t the result of a gamble, it was the result of Honda spending a billion dollars on it. Toyota and Williams both also started that season with a double diffuser but didn’t have the same success.
      Prior to this year, Mercedes’ spending on the team wasn’t even up to the budget cap level. Red Bull on the other hand, have reportedly been playing all sorts of tricks to circumvent the resource restriction agreement. Red Bull have been very successful, Mercedes not so much.
      While money is no guarantee of success (ask Toyota about that!), lack of it surely guarantees a team won’t have success.

  2. James Hadley says:

    I don’t see how Schumacher could leave the decision until October. Traditionally the ‘silly season’ is in full swing around the Monza weekend and Mercedes would not want to leave it that late to have to hire another top driver should he decide to go. My view is that he decided earlier in the season that he was planning to retire but the team and he agreed to not let the information out.

    1. Optimaximal says:

      Indeed, Monza was where Schumacher announced his first retirement (during his winners press conference) – can’t remember if it was rumoured in advance, but he’d all but lost the championship two years in a row and you could see he was demoralised, despite the win.

      It’s safe to say Schumacher’s morale is rock bottom at the moment – he openly talks about ‘getting the most out of the car’ and ‘thats the way things are’, when 2 years ago, despite the car being more of a dog, he was still generally giving out the positive PR.

  3. Andy R says:

    Just tired of this rumour mill. Cant wait for practice/qualy then the race.

    1. DanWilliams from Aust says:

      +1, and then the next race, and then the next…

  4. Don Farrell says:

    Lewis is still very immature… and prone to mood swings if things aren’t going his way… so I guess Ross Brawn would be a good ‘father-like’ calming influence on him.

    1. Ashwin says:

      I concur.. With Ron, Lewis was taken care of and babied thoroughly. As I can see, Martin’s interests with Lewis is not as same as Ron’s.

      I suppose, if it works out, it would be a much needed break to Hamilton.
      But thoroughly unsure about the car’s potential though :(

    2. Optimaximal says:

      He rebelled against his own father and I don’t see how anyone else could fill those boots.

      Hamilton has other ‘issues’ and I don’t believe it’s to do with money or celebrity. That’s not to say I can put my finger on them either.

      1. Don Farrell says:

        i’m convinced he suffers from depression… based on his mood changing every few months… sometimes he high and invinceable… then he’s down and making mistakes and blaming his team for his misfortunes

      2. Sean says:

        I think it has everything to do with money and celebrity. He can’t manage his own persona. It seems only his father could. In some ways I feel very sorry for the guy. He hasn’t lived a life. He has existed in a bubble for the vast majority of it. Without perspective, it must be very tough.

    3. That’s a good observation Don, as of course Lewis lost that ‘father-figure’ when Ron stepped down at McClaren, and his upset with his ‘real’ father,Lewis must look across the garage with envy to see Jenson with his tight knit ‘Team Button’ always on hand.

  5. Il Leone says:

    I think Mercedes are about to come good, they haven’t come into F1 for fun, and will likely be in a strong position for 2014 and the new regs. Don’t forget McLaren are not planning on building their own engines for the new regs, leaving them at the mercy of other engine suppliers.

    Moreover, Norbert Haug really rates Lewis, so why shouldn’t Lewis leave McLaren and help lead the Silver Arrows back to glory alongside his good friend Nico in 2013/14 (they might not be good friends for much longer if teammates, mind). Everyone in life benefits from a change of scene, being in the same team you came to at 13 can’t be good for you in your late 20s.

    Schumi can either retire with good grace or run the risk of getting the bum’s rush come Brazil (like Rubens last year).

    In fact, should I go down to Ladbrokes in the morning and put £10 on Michael announcing his second retirement this weekend at Monza, the place where he announced his first??

    1. TG says:

      +1 (and, yes, Ladbrokes sounds like a good idea)

    2. Liam in Sydney says:

      So too were Toyota’s lofty ambitions, but those intentions from Mercedes are not being backed up, at least not since about race 5 of this season.

    3. Chris says:

      Well Norbert Haugh’s at Mercedes not Mclaren, so surely it’d be a reason for Lewis NOT to go to Mercedes…?

      1. James Clayton says:

        I’m not following?

  6. Irish con says:

    When the new engines come through will we have a situation like in Moto Gp that the factory squads always have an advantage for the first in line for everything good that comes through. Or will everything be totally equal like now.

    1. Optimaximal says:

      I’m not sure the specifics of the engine contracts (like most in F1) are ever revealed. That said, F1 cars are about a lot more than just engines, given the technology freezes.

      Apart from reliability & tuning due to the new formula, are the FIA planning another development freeze? James?

    2. iceman says:

      Interesting question. Probably depends whether the current homologation rules will still apply. If the design has to be homologated at the start of the season, then in theory at least there won’t be any new developments coming through for the factory team to take advantage of. In MotoGP while they’re restricted on numbers of engines, each new one can be a different design.
      The situation is exaggerated in MotoGP by the fact that the satellite teams also get their chassis from the factory, so they’re often at a disadvantage in that department too.

  7. Colin B says:

    This little saga has made the ‘silly season’ quite fun. I think it is all just a ploy from the Hamilton side to see what they can push extra for in contract negotiations with McLaren.

    Maybe it is time for McLaren to play too and invite Di Resta and Hulkenberg for a factory tour and a cup of coffee. Or even Kobayashi!

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      +1

    2. B Grylls says:

      They should invite Kimi.

      BG

  8. Sebee says:

    …Then build a car every driver wants to drive.

  9. f-duct says:

    James, why do you and other F1 sites lobby for DiResta to take over Hamiltons McLaren seat in case of a Hamilton move ? Is there something we don´t know. DiResta, who was beaten by Sutil and now is on his way to be beaten by Hulkenberg should be rewarded with a drive for the team with the fasted car because … ???

    And he isnt exactly a sponsors dream either. The whole point of beating your teammate in a B team like Sauber or Force India is to get noticed by the big teams and eventually offered a drive there. Yet you made it sound like there is some sort of automatism in place for DiResta to get a drive at McLaren should Hamilton moves teams.

    Smells all a bit fishy to me and McLaren i think would kind of make the same mistake once again they made when they put Hamilton right in the best car six years ago. DiResta/McLaren would not be on a sound fundament imo.

    1. James Allen says:

      Not lobbying, just what I heard. Like Hulk is main option for Ferrari apart from Massa – sounds like he might be staying

    2. madmax says:

      I don’t get the fuss about Di Resta either. I am certain if he was not from the UK we would hardly ever hear about him.

    3. tom in adelaide says:

      Well, remembering not to shoot the messenger, I completely agree with your assessment of DiResta. I don’t understand where all the hype has come from really. I’d take Perez, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, and Alguersuari ahead of him any day.

      1. gary says:

        I have to agree. DiResta has done nothing of note yet jurno’s seem to bang on about how good he is. Not beaten his team mate whilst in f1! He’s another Kovy, perhaps not even as good. I don’t know if Rosberg is that good either?

      2. paul says:

        Ill chuck in my agreement too-as a scot I was wanting a bruvver to get behind, but Diresta is nothing special at all. I just don’t get the media hype(esp BBC)
        They talk about Diresta as if it is a given that he will progress to better teams-there is obviously something going on that we pleberians aren’t party to.
        The lad is 27 so not exactly a youngster, and his “intelligence” of letting faster cars past is looking more and more like subservience or lack of fight-and thats not a good quality to be missing as a Scotsman!

    4. Optimaximal says:

      I think most of the rumours come about because of his ‘Mercedes’ heritage – as they say, the only way is up and the obvious routes are into one of the two Mercedes-powered teams.

  10. madmax says:

    Would it not better tell the whole story to also include what Brawn said about Schumacher??

    “I think Michael has a huge amount to offer. You saw his performance at Spa, it was a great performance that we didn’t back it up with as strong a car as we wanted. He’s had lots of performances like that this year. So I’m very happy with Michael’s performance this year and with these technical challenges we are going to face in 2014, someone with Michael’s experience and calibre would be a great asset to any team. Particularly our team.”

    1. Jake Pattison says:

      Thanks for that. I hope Schumi stays for some wins.

      1. tank says:

        I hope he stays for a championship :)

    2. olivier says:

      +1

      Thank you for sharing!

    3. Leali says:

      well that might be coded message to Nico that he is on the way out if Hami decide to make move or since this seams to be a ploy to get him more money(Rod Denis said recently that he Lewis might have to take pay cut) , if this ploy backfires then Hami moving to merc might mean that Nico will be out and not Shumi. Just to point that despite Nico’s win (1 in 100+ races) is the only thing he has on hi CV that creates sparkle on the other hand Shumi showed recovery last year although he was missfortunate more so this year but still showed why he has 7 titles to his name, so from technical point of view he would be an asset and to compare him to Rubens is just stupid.

  11. kp says:

    James, I think we are all rather missing the point.

    Hamilton has but one role within Simon Fuller/XIX Entertainment, to help maintain the global entity that is brand Beckham. Everyone knows this, including those nice chaps at McLaren and Mercedes. Even EJ knows it too.

    As a marketing object in his own right he is pants and has been pants for some years now. No sponsor would touch him, unlike a Maldonado or Perez.

    It’s a shame. He could have been a contender …….

    1. Optimaximal says:

      No sponsor would touch him, unlike a Maldonado or Perez.

      It’s interesting that you list the two drivers who are most definitely on the grid because of money.

      Yes, Perez has talent by the bucketload, but that cheque from Slim/Telmex did wonders for Sauber this year.

      I’m also assuming that you whooped out loud when Grosjean hit Hamilton at Spa, then proceeded to shout at the TV when the Lotus driver was banned.

    2. Pedro says:

      Oh no, I just got it… KP… Nuts !

  12. Davexxx says:

    Great game of Tennis!
    New Balls, Please… ;-)

  13. Schumilewis says:

    I think Hamilton should move to Mercedes, I think it will reinvigorate him and move Mercedes up the grid. McLaren won’t have as much money to spend in the future as they will have to pay for engines and I believe they will also lose some sponsors if Hamilton goes. McLaren have a poor record of championships since 2000 and probably will always struggle for the constructors / drivers with their refusal to support one driver when they are much further ahead in the championship.

    1. Optimaximal says:

      Customer engine costs are capped.

      McLaren make so much money in and out of F1 that they can easily budget for it, especially if they’re not paying inflated driver wages.

  14. Gord says:

    What’s wrong with Hamilton going to Mercedes ? Nobody complained when Alonso downgraded to Renault for 2 years.

    1. JR says:

      you mean when he was kicked outta mclaren with what was goin on with the spying scandal and his aledged involvement?? only had renault cause his manager was team boss there?

  15. tank says:

    JAMES: Where will you be watching practice tomorrow and/or saturday? I’m in Monza for the weekend and would really enjoy talking with you!

    (came all the way from South Africa to be here ;)

    Off topic but watched RB doing pit stop practice til 7 pm and got to see Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Spoke to a nice chap called Darren from RBR, he does the fueling on Mark Webber’s car, and sets up the pit wall electrics too. It was an incredible day and I would recommend the pit walk to anyone going to a race.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m commentating on all of it from a box on top of main grandstand

      1. tank says:

        during the support events?

      2. Jake Pattison says:

        Oh, tough life for some! :)

  16. PabloNeuquen says:

    James,dónt you think Mercedes is putting pressure on Michael to quit,as they negotiate with Lewis?

    1. Liam in Sydney says:

      And who is the better development driver? Which is exactly what they need now. And Schumi is no slouch. I think Mercedes know what they are doing.

    2. Optimaximal says:

      Michael likely brings umpteen millions to the company through PR – He’s a national icon for the German people and for a German car company to have him on the books to sell their product is likely priceless.

  17. Paul Woods-smith says:

    Lewis, love what you stand for, where you’ve come from to get here. I’m a Hertfordshire boy and know well where you’re from. Such an inspiration and you excite me as a driver, person and an example of what can be achieved through pure drive and talent. Now the flip side: you are being poorly advised from a management team who usually deal with (let’s be blunt) divas. Go back to your roots, get racing people to manage you who understand racing. I don’t believe for one minute you are happy with how this is working out. That said, you were an egit for doing that tweet but I still love ya and loads of us still do. Now shut up and do what you do best, drive the balls out of that Mac and do your talking on track. Ditch the diva brigade, you know who they are.

    1. nedder says:

      Totally agree. I’m not the only one whose eyebrows were raised when the XIX deal was revealed… Thing is, Lewis is one of the most exciting drivers of his generation, and DRIVING is what the sport’s all about… Being a global media superstar can surely take a back seat for a while, because surely that’s all XIX can offer him. Don’t forget that, early in his career, Jenson too was accused of being a bit of a money-obsessed playboy (without the benefit of a world championship to back him up) but the Honda years were the making of him, and look at him now! Maybe getting in a truly uncompetitive car is just what Lewis needs, you could say he’s been a little, er… ‘spoiled’ in his career so far.

    2. Mitchel says:

      Driving-wise, HAM has barely put a foot wrong.

      Pay little attention to anyone’s tweets…..

      They should be spoken of in the same breath as Bernie’s sprinkler, London GP, and medals, pronouncements!

      Let’s look at facts on the race track.

  18. TG says:

    Not that it’s any of my business, but i think Lewis should just accept the offer from Mercedes. There’s plenty of reasons, but the top one has nothing to do with engines or money – Lewis has to keep evolving and he needs to branch out on his own to do that. A different working environment can bring a different outlook, esp’ if you’ve got someone with the strength of mind of Schumacher in your corner. That emotional stamina that marks out many top sportspeople is prob’ Lewis’s weakpoint right now and I can’t see him getting what he needs to fix that from McLaren any more. I’m a McLaren fan, and I think the team will hurt without him, but Lewis has got to do what’s best for him.

  19. CanadaGP says:

    Kimi Raikkonen is the other card in McLaren’s hand. Mercedes is the card that Hamilton is playing. And Mercedes and Ross Brawn very clearly want to be in the game.
    Eddie Jordan is now a journo so he is quick to play Ross’ game for the scoop.
    I don’t think Schumacher is in the game at all.
    Bernie intentionally made his announcement to prevent Michael from indeed retiring even if Lewis joins Mercedes.
    What could be better theater for the box office?
    The odd man out in musical chairs is Rosberg, who is the most expendable of the lot.
    An ideal No. 2 driver for Ferrari.

    1. Jack says:

      Mostly agree with this as a possibility, especially on Rosberg to Ferrari which hadn’t crossed my mind.

      Unless Schumacher actually has decided he’s going then this is Bernie, through mouthpiece EJ, trying to engineer a position where he wants to stay – If everyone is saying goodbye and Hamilton is arriving then I should think Schumacher will have extra incentive to stick around and try and prove the doubters wrong. Much more so than another year slightly trailing Rosberg. And Merc can’t been seen to sack Michael Schumacher.

      Hamilton vs Schumacher
      Button vs Raikkonen
      Roserg vs Alonso

      Would spice things up nicely for fans and therefore sponsors, and even if nothing comes of any of this, it made the front page of BBC sport…any publicity and all that…

      PS If Kobayashi ends up in any front running car after all this then thats the icing on the cake!

      1. Sebastian says:

        Kobayashi at Redbull would make great marketing sense. Energy drinks is huge in Asia but Redbull doesn’t provide an edge in what is a highly competitive market. A japanese driver could give them a platform of growth.

    2. leukocyte says:

      Rosberg has a multi-year contract with Mercedes at least until 2013 with options beyond, so he’s ok for next season

  20. Phill says:

    I don’t see Lewis going to Mercedes, it seems a backward step. Maybe 2014 would be a better time to go with them being a works and having mOre time to design, but Lewis won’t want to sit there for a season, just waiting. And with the new found pace the mclaren seem to have, I can’t see a decision been made until October, the same time as Michael says he will make a decision.

  21. Nullius says:

    I hope Lewis moves – either to Mercedes, or perhaps to a team like Williams. It would be a shame if his entire driving career was at a single team. A new team might bring something out of him, and he might well bring something good out of a potentially great team like Williams.

    1. B Grylls says:

      With all respect to driver’s (and any other professional’s) desire to have a fair employment contract, I think Lewis Hamilton behaves as a spoiled diva. Both the team and himself would benefit from a move as I think that he under estimates the value of being with McLaren.

      The scenario I would love to see would be:
      - Schumacher renews his contract with Mercedes
      - Hamilton moves to Williams, bringing in the necessary sponsors needed to boot Maldonado
      - Kimi signs for McLaren and makes a 1-2 with Button for the WDC and bag the WCC at the same time

      BG

  22. Steven Pritchard says:

    James,

    I think the words “nail”, “head” and “hit” are appropriate somewhere here. Money (ergo freedom from sponsorship restrictions) are clearly key to Lewis’ new contract – but the impending Rule change and a Ross Brawn led change management must be a key driver here.

    Maybe the true scenario is less about whether Mclaren can keep Hamilton, but more if Mercedes are willing to let go of the Schumacher brand and take Lewis.

    Interesting times!

    Cheers,

    Steve

  23. Martin P says:

    James, is it that unthinkable that it’s Rosberg and not Schumacher who would make way for Hamilton?

    I know Mercedes aren’t led by Frank Williams, but surely a Schumacher/Hamilton partnership for even one year is a stronger proposition (both on and off track) than Rosberg/Schum or Rosberg/Hamilton?

    That would allow Mercedes to offer Lewis the chance to drive alongside Schumi whilst developing the car and team around him during 2013 – in time for Di Resta to join as driver 2 in 2014.

    Impossible? Implausible? Derisable?!

    1. James Allen says:

      A few people asking that in F1 tonight too, Rosberg renewed his deal of course.

      1. Greygamer says:

        Of course this suggests that a straight swap could happen (i.e. Rosberg for Hamilton)
        What is Rosberg’s salary?

      2. Martin P says:

        Why does it mean a straight swap? Rosberg has no divine right to a drive. All his contract entitles him to is money. Kimi can attest to that.

        A swap would also suggest that McLaren at some point become complicit in the deal, which seems unlikely as they’re a counter-bidder. It would also suggest that they’d actually want Rosberg!

    2. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      I made the same point in yesterday’s blog post. No team principal would back Rosberg over Lewis. Apart from his win this year, he has failed to set the world alight. Its hard to see why you would back him as your lead driver for a multi-year campaign. Lewis gives any team that option as a great No.1. Alternatively, it would be great to see him in a Williams or Sauber to see what those cars could do with a top tier driver.

      Mercedes are a dark horse. Look at the engineering talent they have in the team. That has to start paying off soon. Question is when.

      1. Ben B says:

        I too would like to see Hamilton in a Sauber. The team has stability, clear, open and committed leadership, and is on an obvious upward curve – they have already surpassed the mid-field and are moving into the top-four. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them regularly fighting with Lotus’ towards the end of the season.

        It would give Lewis a chance to show what he’s made of that all his detractors have been asking since he stepped into the garage at Woking, and it would be great publicity for a team that is open to a little showbiz (sponsorship partnership with Chelsea football club anyone?)

        Not only that, Kobayashi would look great in red.

      2. Martin P says:

        2014 under the new regulations, starting with the engines.

  24. Erik says:

    I would actually suggest that it will be Rosberg that leaves Mercedes, not Schumacher if Hamilton ends up there. I know that Rosberg is under contract but could Mercedes potentially release him? I can see a straight swap between the two, where Rosberg ends up in a McLaren.

    This is why I think it could work:
    Rosberg is not seen by Mercedes to be as marketable as Hamilton. If Hamilton ends up at Merc they have the problem of managing two front running drivers. Why not keep Michael for another year, then when he goes into retirement Merc has the chance to put a number two in his seat, allowing them to build the team around Hamilton.

    Meanwhile McLaren get an intelligent technical driver who fits the teams personality much better. And Rosberg gets the front running car he always wanted…

  25. Dufus says:

    Seriously, its like “Days of Our Lives” with Lewis Hamilton.
    Care factor – Zero.

    1. Jake Pattison says:

      Yeah, he’s a high maintenance hero. :p

    2. Rach says:

      Clearly you weren’t around in the 80′s and 90′s with the musical chairs played by senna Prost mansell piquet etc etc.

      This is nothing new so don’t bash Hamilton he is just trying to sort the best deal out he can.

    3. bearforce1 says:

      If You can’t be happy at Mclaren where could you be happy? Nowhere I reckon.

      1. James Clayton says:

        Kimi and Alonso might both seemed to find happiness elsewhere after being disheartened at McLaren. Just saying…

  26. Rodger says:

    “The key question is, in whose interests is it that Jordan put the story out?”
    Ah, conspiracy theories…gotta love ‘em.
    Here’s one: the culprit is…none other than Eddie Jordan himself.
    Crazy? Probably, but he and Ron Dennis have previous.
    In 2010 Ron cut Eddie’s micrphone chord on live TV which had poor Eddie flapping around and Ron giggling in the background.
    Eddie then slated McLaren at the start of 2011, saying that their pre-season form was shocking.
    But when McLaren qualified 2nd in Oz Ron got his own back when, again on live Tv, he handed Eddie a plate and said something like “enjoy your humble pie”.
    So…could this be Eddie’s patient revenge? He knows a story like this will embarass McLaren and the part he said about the team not being able to match Lewis’ current slary will, I imagine, especially irk Ron.
    I wouldn’t put it past the cheeky Ulsterman!

    1. Wu says:

      I pay no real attention to this rumour because of the rumour’s source.

      EJ’s track record on these things isn’t good. Add Schumacher into the mix and everything EJ says I’m inclined to believe the opposite.

      Seriously, how many times in the past 3 years has EJ had an inside scoop or whatnot on how Schumacher is leaving at the end of the year? Every year he comes up with a new rumour that ends up being completly untrue.

  27. John tsoutis says:

    Just imagine for a sec, Schumi in the McLaren for a year…

    1. nedder says:

      HAHAHA! Now THERE’S a thought…

    2. Optimaximal says:

      Didn’t McLaren already put an old man (Mansell) in one of their cars? He couldn’t fit.

    3. Wu says:

      I actually thought about it – a straight swap with Hamilton for a year. Doubt it would ever happen, but since next year is the last year of this era, Schumacher going back to Merc in a non-racing capacity after 2013 wouldn’t be disasterous to Mclaren.

      Yeh… not gonna happen, but would be a hell of a thing to see.

  28. Charlie says:

    All become plain shortly…

    For myself I hope MSC isn’t departing – I can’t say I’m that keen on him but I feel F1 will be poorer when he does finally depart…

    …a realistic possibility or not, I wonder if LH going to Merc could work out very well for him:
    To my uneducated eye Massa was at his best with a retired MSC on hand at Ferrari, and part of his drop-off in form comes from a lack of such support. At the risk of grossly oversimplifying maybe Lews, like Massa, is just a bit dim. Having MSC on hand would be what he needs to consistently shine.

    1. Optimaximal says:

      Some of the greatest minds in the worlds still benefit from the guiding hand of experience.

      To call someone ‘a bit dim’ because they need guidance in their life does a disservice to every father figure in the history of the world, ever.

    2. Wu says:

      As much sense Schumacher mentoring Lewis makes; he really could use someone guiding him, I just don’t think it’s ever going to happen. Firstly Schumi would still be racing him, so it makes sense to unsettle Hamilton as much as possible instead of helping him.

      Main issue I have with this though is Lewis himself. I don’t think seeking help or accepting he has a problem in the first place is part of Lewis’ character. When he’s ready to admit he needs help I doubt he would go to Schumacher either.

      The irony in this is that Lewis could learn a lot from Schumacher, if Lewis could absorb some of Schumi’s character traits, and the way he goes about a racing weekend, I believe Lewis would become the great he should be already. But like I said; never gonna happen.

  29. JohnO says:

    Schumi and Hamilton would be a huge pull for Merc. Dont see it happening though, Hamilton will stay at McLaren, Schumi stays for one more year, his performaces have been of high quality this year and as Ross mentioned he is very happy with Michael as it stands.

    1. Geee says:

      Brawn also said he wants Schumacher around in 2014… for what role I don’t know, but I don’t see this happening. Just something fun to stir things up for Hamiltons negotiations with McLaren.

      1. Wu says:

        Brawn has stated already that continuity into 2014+ is one of the issues regarding the decision.

        In other words, Brawn would like the same drivers during transition to the new engines. That would mean that Schumacher is more likely to be given a 2 year deal instead of a 1 year extention.

        Given the slump in mid of the year, and next year’s car being in planning stage, I’m sure Schumi wants to wait and see if the car will improve enough to warrent another 2 years.

        P.S. There is one more record I bet Schumacher would love to have – oldest f1 champ. If Schumi was to win next year’s championship he would overtake Fangio’s record by a matter of months.

  30. AJ says:

    Interestingly both DRS zones been shortened. Ok main straight only by 5 metres. More interestingly the detection point for the main straight zone has been moved to before parabolica (was on exit last year) this may unfortunately disuade anyone from trying to overtake going into parabolica and hang back waiting for the DRS zone – a la Canada. Otherwise if a pass is made in to parabolica the driver risks being passed straight back in the following DRS zone.

    Further, wonder if we’ll see much longer 7 th gears from all the teams this year so that the limiter is only hit with DRS, KERS and tow. Remember Lewis and MS? It’s not worth the couple of tenths benefit in quali to go the other way.

    Anyway driving down through Alps tomorrow. James has inspired us to do another road trip this week too…

    1. Bobster says:

      I think DRS set up and gearing is determined by whether or not you expect to be running at the front. If you do, then you go for the sort of setup that RBR had at Spa. Their problem was that they expected to be running at the front but then qualified poorly. I bet you Button’s car was set up to be hitting max revs along Kemmel even without DRS.

    2. Sebastian says:

      DRS-detection before Parabolica sounds like a good thing since that corner is where you loose a lot of speed following a car.

      I guess we will see a lot of action into the chicane after the start/finish straight.

  31. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Brilliant move from Lewis’cause.

    Think Kimi came to a 5th team and in few races put Lotus with a shot to be maybe 2nd in the WCC. What if you get a serial winner in Mercedes?

    Now, it seems MacLaren feels the pressure, they don’t want to irritate Lewis camp and nothing negative is said (tweeter saga, for example). MacLaren has no choice than offer more money right away and announce that the contract was negotiate early in this season, etc., etc.

    In other way, IMO Di Resta is getting overrated, being linked with Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes at the same time.

    IMHO Ferrari should take Sutil for one year, Mercedes to Lewis, McLaren to Hulkenberg and keep Button, voilà.

  32. Scott says:

    On a slightly off topic, does anyone know why Lewis carried a piece of his car back to the pits after the crash in the last race?

    1. nedder says:

      Probably to smack Romain in the face with it???

      1. Scott says:

        That is really quite funny. I can nearly see that happening :)

  33. Hendo says:

    Often, one of the chief reasons for retaining a top driver is so that other teams don’t get him.
    In this case, since Vettle and Webber are locked into the Red Bull seats.
    The number two seat at Ferrari is no threat to anybody, so Macca should have no qualms in letting Lewis go elsewhere.
    I dont think Lewis has many bargaining chips left in his hand now.

    1. Mike from Colombia says:

      I think that he has more bargaining weight than people perceive.

      The team pays the driver, and the sponsors pay the teams. Ultimately, if drivers were not generating profit for the teams they would be dropped.

      Hamilton is the biggest media draw in F1. If he leaves, then sponsor money or the team’s bargaining position with sponsors weakens.

      If he joins another team, he will attract sponsor money and increase the team’s bargaining position.

      McLaren will undoubtedly have this on its mind. The “sizzling” combination of Button and Di Resta (yawn yawn) is hardly going to set their sponsors’ world alight.

  34. Michael says:

    I hope Lewis does leave. Then Button & Whitmarsh could finally get a room together.

    1. Steven Pritchard says:

      Chortle. Ego and personality.

  35. Kay says:

    Well Merc-Benz, you manufacturers just come and go as you please don’t really help to stamp your image down as a team that every driver wish to drive for.

    So far I only see Ferrari and McLaren can create that image. To these two brands, racing comes before car manufacturing. The rest of the pack/teams (manufacturers I mean)… it’s just money.

  36. sennaQLD says:

    DUFUS could not agree more

  37. Mike says:

    Why waste money on Hamilton’s huge salary?
    Every 10 million or so = a few tenths in progress. Better to go for Perez, Hulkenburg or
    the BANZAI of KOBAYASHI!!

  38. Richard says:

    Actually to drive for Mercedes might be a good move for the future. Undoubtably Hamilton’s Management team have set this thing up like this to act as a lever, but come 2014 I think Mercedes may have a time advantage in designing a new car around the new engine assembly. A significant amount of extra time is a huge advantage in design whatever the other teams say. On top of that the Mercedes team want to improve as Ross Brawn says and they have the means to do it. Hamilton and Rosberg would make an excellent drivers line up for the challenge, and Rosberg has said he wants to drive alongside Hamilton in the past. Personally I think it will happen.

  39. Enzo says:

    “we want to be a team every driver wants to drive for”
    To me it sounds like Ross was aiming a “silver arrow” at Rosberg, from what i heard, Nico was openly flirting with Ferrari yesterday.

  40. David Smith says:

    James

    Why do all driver contract talks have to be kept secret and denied all the time by teams? Surely F1 should start being more transparent towards its fan base?

  41. SK Anand says:

    Dear James,

    Why is it with despite a such phenomenal talents like M/S Brawn, Bell, Costa, Schumacher, that mercedes in in the dog house? A team as talented as this, cannot get their package so dramatically vulnerable? What is it that is not meeting the eye

    Sincerely

    SK Anand

  42. Rufus Matthews says:

    An interesting article and its interesting to read all the comments.
    If I was Hamilton I would stay at Mclaren who are consistent challengers. Ok Mercedes could come good but also they might not. On the basis of the last 3 seasons a move would be a huge gamble particularly for a driver who is hard on tyres.
    On the 2nd issue I hope Schumacher stays. From mid season last year he has found his form and his race craft always makes him exciting to watch. Of course at his age not having the equipment is probably frustrating for him and he may wonder if its worth driving his heart out to be overtaken when the tyres wear out. The other thing is that it wouldn’t be bad for him to go when we can see that he has still got it. As for me I would like him to stay one more year. If Mercedes did manage to build a winning car it would be fascinating to see what he could do. I think he could win some races at least.

  43. Antony Biondi says:

    Hi James,

    Quick question regarding the last paragraph in your article where you mention the chassis department within Mercedes know the engine size etc, is this true for the other works teams too, such as Ferrari?

      1. João Ornelas says:

        With works teams like Mercedes and Ferrari already working with the real CAD model of their own 2014 V6 engine (and Ferrari already testing a live one), giving them a definitive advantage for the 2014 season, one question remains:
        - Who is working with the CAD model of the Renault engine – Red Bull or Lotus?

  44. sjm says:

    I think he should move on. Mclaren have never been good at interpreting new regulations. MAMG look like a team on the ascendency but lacking a driver who can bring the best out the car. Schumi is past his past best and Nico is average IMO.

    Change is good.

  45. Okay then, my pick for F1 musical chairs 2013:

    Red Bull: Vettel, Webber
    Ferrari: Alonso, Hulkenberg
    McLaren: Button, Di Resta
    Mercedes: Hamilton, Rosberg
    Sauber: Kobayashi, Perez
    Lotus: Raikkonen, Grosjean
    Williams: Maldonado, Sutil
    Force India: Kovalainen, Bianchi
    Toro Rosso: Vergne, Ricciardo
    Caterham: Petrov, van der Garde
    Marussia: Pic, Alguersuari
    HRT: De la Rosa, Bottas

    All guesswork of course, but some of the pairings feel right.

  46. Kam says:

    With regards to Schumi and Brawn (+ Todt).

    Just remember how long it took Ferrari to come good, but when it did…

    Merc are in the same position Ferrari were in the mid to late 90′s. When it all gel’s and clicks they will be there.

    Still, Hamilton to Williams. Fuller to get the team renamed Williams-Renault-Hamilton-Beckaham. The branding is complete.

    Kam

  47. Quercus says:

    EJ is now a journalist and wants to be first out with the story. If he’s right, kudos. If he’s wrong it will be lost in the excitement of HAMs move to Merc. …and EJ will have a dozen reasons to explain away his wrong call.

    1. James Clayton says:

      “If he’s right, kudos. If he’s wrong it will be lost in the excitement of HAMs move to Merc.”

      Hey what? If he’s wrong then Hamilton’s not moving to Merc!

  48. Nil says:

    Rosberg would have thought the team would be built around him in later 2009 until Schumacher partnered him and right when Michael’s retirement was getting close there’s another possibility that Rosberg won’t be the number one driver in the team. I remember James making a comment in 2009 that Schumacher joining would not be good for Rosberg; if he had the upper hand it would be judged as Schumacher’s age catching up to him and if he got beaten by a 40+ year old that would be plain bad. What do you think Rosberg makes of these rumors?

    When Hamilton arrived in F1 I thought the only thing that would restrain him from realizing his potential would be himself. Now he looks to be set to go in Villeneuve’s direction.

  49. Andy says:

    With all the speculation going on of where people are moving to, could it be possible that the status quo is the most likely option, however dull that might seem to us all. Hamilton stays at McLaren, Schumacher at Mercedes and even Massa at Ferrari.

  50. Christopher says:

    With all the possible options that have been put on the table, I’d like to toss out my dream list for 2013.
    RBR Vettel Webber
    Maclaren Button Kobi
    Ferrari Alonso Schumi
    Mercedes Hamilton Rosberg
    Sauber Same
    FI Same
    Williams Kovi Senna

    I know Schumi back to Ferrari will never happen, but I until next year is upon us, I can hope. :)Besides I think Hamilton needs a change and Mercedes needs his speed. Lewis staying at Macca will just be more drama. If he goes to Merc and wins, he joins the likes of Schumi/Ferrari.

  51. Eric Weinraub says:

    While I do think that Schuey is going to retire unless something big happens SOON… I cannot see Ross doing to Schuey what that idiot Luca did. The seat is his as long as he wants it. lets be real, he has shown he is as fast as anyone … Second, MS is easily as fast as Lewis H. Its the car, folks.

    1. Angelina says:

      Agree 100%

  52. Nick says:

    Is this speculation with mercedes about:

    a) lewis looking for leverage to negotiate a better deal with mclaren for 2013; or

    b) a genuine look at moving to mercedes?

    If (b), then what’s at mercedes that would make him want to jump from mclaren? other than $$ and taking a risk. I can only think it’s (a).

    1. James Allen says:

      Both. McLaren are offering less, but also Ham’s management can exploit him commercially much more within a Mercedes deal, otherwise sponsors etc

      It’s more locked down at McLaren

      If McLaren matched the Merc deal ( which this episode was a call for them to do) then I think his heart would rule and he’d stay

      But as it stands there’s a chance of this Merc deal happening

  53. kbdavies says:

    I agree with you James. But the main issue is that Hamilton does not feel at home in McLaren since Whitmarsh took over. Coupled with Witmarsh’s barely disguised lovefest with Button, this has really knocked Lewis’s confidence, with results bordering on paranoia.
    He has openly questioned many team decisions, tactics and even mistakes – most, which on the face of it, do look questionable.(too many to go into here. These are the classic signs of a driver who does not believe he has the full support of the team, and even feels that the team undermines him on occasion.

    It is no coincidence that Lewis’s best years at McLaren (2007/2008)where the ones where he felt(and majority of the fans too)the team supported his as a driver to win the WDC.
    Whitmarsh’s approach, which is frangmented support at best, and a clear preference for the other driver at worst has clearly not helped.
    Agree or not, all the drivers who have won WDC’s in his generation, have done so in teams where they received the lion share of support available. This happened in 2007/2008), but not since Whitmarsh took over.
    This is what Twittergate was about, and it deos not look like it will get better.

    Yes, the money is a factor, Yes, a winning car is a factor, but these things are only being factors because of what is missing – being THE No.1 driver. Lewis would sign for McLaren in a hearbeat, if he felt the team would throw it’s weight behind him, as he clearly feels he is better placed to win a WDC more that Button is. I have to say i agree.

    McLaren have yet to learn, that supporting both drivers equally, or attempting to is highly unlikely to bring home that WDC. Supporting both drivers, whilst having a clear undisguised preference for one – As RBR did in the later part of 2011, and McLaren did in the later part of 2008, and Brawn was accused of doing in the later part of 2009, can only lead to paranoia and a loss of motivation on the part of the driver concerned.

    1. David V says:

      I completely agree that Whitmarsh’s arrival on the scene undermined to a great degree a lot of the support and emotional ties that Hamilton felt he had with McLaren. It seems like things began to unravel from the whole Trulli controversy (lying to the stewards, etc) in Australia 2009. The way in which McLaren handled that situation and Hamilton’s comments on it afterwards indicate that Hamilton’s trust in McLaren took a major hit due to that event.
      More importantly, it is unfair to suggest that the only thing Mercedes can offer is money and independence around sponsorship. For one thing, Hamilton will have the benefit of Ross Brawn, whose experience and calibre far surpasses that of Whitmarsh, and is someone that I am sure Lewis looks up to and respects. Secondly, he will have the obvious benefit of the team being built pretty much entirely around him, and as others have mentioned, such a prospect is clearly enticing for Hamilton given what he has observed at Red Bull and Ferrari. Thirdly, and this is perhaps the most compelling component of a Mercedes deal, he’d have the challenge of bringing a relatively new team to the forefront of F1 – much like Schumacher did with Ferrari. Not that I am suggesting that LH is in the same league as MSC (yet to be determined), but the prospect must be something that he is considering.

      I think it boils down to this – if he wins WDC this year with McLaren, he will feel confident enough to take the chance with Mercedes; if not, he will stay at McLaren.

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