Some unfinished business
Suzuka 2014
Japanese Grand Prix
Sam Michael on Hamilton’s departure and why McLaren won’t dwell on it
McLaren Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, Sam Michael - XPB
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Dec 2012   |  10:19 am GMT  |  154 comments

Sam Michael believes there are no hidden motives behind Lewis Hamilton leaving McLaren and that the driver’s desire to take on a new challenge simply outweighed everything else, even the chance to continue driving a proven race-winning car.

The McLaren sporting director gave his assessment on Hamilton’s momentous decision to swap Woking for Mercedes from 2013 while looking back on some of the major talking points of the season alongside a panel of fellow experts in the December edition of the JA on F1 podcast (click here to download).

When Hamilton’s three-year Mercedes deal was made public at the end of September both the financial elements of the move, plus speculated frictions between Hamilton and the McLaren hierarchy, were the aspects of the story most keenly focused on, even if the driver himself stressed he had been most drawn by the challenge of helping build up a team into a world champion.

Reflecting on the move in the podcast two months on from the announcement, Michael paid tribute to McLaren’s departing star and acknowledged Hamilton’s desire to try something new after such a long association with one organisation.

“I think the whole team gets on very well with Lewis, and we still do. He’s a great guy,” Michael said. “He’s a fantastic racing driver; he’s possibly the quickest driver on the grid at the moment in terms of pure natural talent.

“Lewis has been associated with McLaren for 17 years, and he’s been contracted for the last 13 plus – that’s a long time with one place and I think it simply comes down to that.

“There is nothing deeper than the fact that he wants to move on and grow and do different things with his life and that’s more important to him, even though he steps out of a winning grand prix car right now.

“He wants to take on the challenge of developing another team and bringing them up, a team that’s not winning races at the moment, and it’s something that he wanted to do.”

But while acknowledging the level of talent McLaren is losing to Mercedes, Michael stressed that the team would quickly look forward into its new era.

“Of course it’s a loss to McLaren but just like if anybody leaves, whether it’s a driver – there have been some very big, famous names leave McLaren before in terms of drivers – and you don’t dwell on it,” he said. “You move on quickly because Formula 1’s all about change management.”

That change over the winter will see Mexican hotshot Sergio Perez arrive at Woking in January in Hamilton’s place and during the course of the podcast, Michael spoke of his admiration for the 22-year-old’s performances in 2012.

Talking about which of Perez’s results impressed him most, Michael said: “His drive in Malaysia and then again in Montreal, but also Monza. The way he came through the field in Monza, another couple of races [sic. laps] and he would have been fighting Lewis for the win.

“Just the way that he drives around world champions is fantastic.”

 

You can hear more from Sam Michael, including his views on the likely 2013 title protagonists, along with leading F1 journalist Mark Hughes, FOTA general secretary Oliver Weingarten, F1′s top photographer Darren Heath and our very own James Allen in the end-of-season JA on F1 podcast, available to download via iTunes or directly here now.

Also remember you can still order a signed copy of the newly-published JA on F1 2012 yearbook – The Year of Living Dangerously, which charts the story behind Hamilton’s Mercedes move along with all the other key events from the season intercepted with race reports and stunning imagery. Click here to visit our online shop.


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154 Comments
  1. Simon D says:

    I wish McLaren well next year but I will be supporting Lewis Hamilton next year, I hope Mercedes have a decent online shop as the Mclaren e-shop was fantastic

    1. Matt H says:

      Hmmmm not sure about the eshop comment mate. I’m a big mclaren fan but I think the shop is overpriced for ok quality goods. Personally the team T-shirt coats etc is fine but they go way overboard with the other lines. Found that £40 for a team T-shirt is bordering excessive to advertise brands.

      1. Trevor Murphy says:

        I never understood why anyone would pay that kind of money to have the proper labels on a shirt that realistically costs about %5 of retail to make..

        How about they pay Me/Us to advertise for them? where is the logic?

      2. Sebee says:

        During the Schumi era I set my mind on getting one of the proper team shirts with Marlboro branding on it. It was incredibly expensive to get.

        I wore it to a race once or twice, but felt like a fool wearing it to the office with the giant stiff Marlboro on the back. Now I have kids, and I’m not going to walk around with a giant smokes logo around the house.

        You’re absolutely right about these shirts. But you must admit the model is one to envy. We pay THEM to be a walking branded billboard. Doesn’t happen with anything else but jerseys in F1 and football.

      3. falonso says:

        It’s pretty basic brand marketing: As a fan you want to be associated with the team you support.

      4. Gary says:

        If anyone wants me to walk around in garments advertising their brand, I’d expect to be paid to be a walking billboard. ;-)

    2. Dan Hoyes says:

      Wish Lewis well, but yes the comment on eshops is a bit odd. The McLaren stuff didn’t had anything that said ‘McLaren’ on it… as Matt says it was just to advertise their sponsors – which will always look trashy no matter how many fancy labels you try to give it (“rocket red”…)

    3. wezza says:

      I concur- will be supporting Mercedes

    4. Kev says:

      MGP’s Association with Puma = Outstanding Merchandise. I was very impressed with this years range and next years ‘Lewis’ range is going to be even better. :)

  2. Enzo says:

    I think Perez is a very promising young driver, but the Sauber is a true tyrewhisperer, because of that, Sergio could pull off his one-stop wonders.
    But I have to admit, really looking forward of seeing him with one of the big teams.

    Button recently said: “I think I’d give him a very good run for his money” and he was talking about Fernando.
    Just be careful Sergio doesn’t give you one Jenson.

  3. Irish con says:

    I just don’t see we’re mclaren are going to get Saturday pace at next year if there car isn’t half a second faster than the field. I don’t think Perez is ready for a front running team yet either. And Ferrari made the right call with picking hulkenburg to put in that sauber to keep closer eye on him. Tho I think lotus should of had him over grosjean.

    1. MISTER says:

      Why would you think was Ferrari’s call about Sauber?

      James, can you please clarify what’s the deal between Ferrari and Sauber? I keep hearing people saying Ferrari are calling the shots are Sauber. Is this true? Are they like Torro Rosso and RedBull?

      Does Ferrari have any say into how Sauber run their team? Is there any funding from Ferrari going towards Sauber?

      Thanks

      1. James Allen says:

        They have long suppled engines, of course. The relationship is close and Sauber side with Ferrari on political calls,

        But Sauber is not at Ferrari’s disposal, as TR is with Red Bull, no.

      2. Irish con says:

        Massa was at sauber at the start of his career and then went to Ferrari as test driver and then back to sauber before his last switch as Ferrari race driver. I think something similar is going on here as I don’t see a reason for hulkenburg to just move sideways to sauber from force India. My money is in hulkenburg in a Ferrari 2014.

      3. [MISTER] says:

        Makes sense actually. Didn’t think of that to be honest. We shall see!
        But will Ferrari let Massa go after 2013 if his performances will match or be close to Alonso’s? I don’t think so, because if they build a decent car, with Alonso and Massa performing, Ferrari should fight for the win on both championships.

      4. Elie says:

        & if he performs the way he has this year he would rightly deserve a drive at Ferrari he was certainly my 5th best driver this year- he was terrific since SPA, can only imagine what he would do in a big team- the only down side is that changing teams might set him back a little.

  4. DANNY says:

    Hulkenberg passing him for the lead in Brazil spoke volumes for me about Button’s ranking amongst the top guns in F1. He struggles too much with the set-up of his car and often has to gamble on pit strategy. The McLaren may be capable of wins but I don’t have confidence that either Button or Perez will get the most out of the car. Button will need another Brawn type car advantage if he wants another championship.

    1. Grabsplatter says:

      To be fair, James has pointed out in the past that Hulkenburg does have a habit of copying Button’s tyre choice in changeable conditions. So, without doing that, would Hulkenburg have found himself at the sharp end in Brazil?

      1. DANNY says:

        Sauber often gambled on one stop strategies. It’s not a surprise that Hulkenberg or any driver from a smaller team would have to gamble on pit strategy.

      2. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        According to Grabsplatter, Hulk gets on the team radio and says “whats Button doing?” :)

    2. Dan Hoyes says:

      And the fact that he outscored Lewis during the partnership over three whole seasons? Just luck?

      To base your whole decision on ONE overtake in ONE race is a bit strange. What about when Jenson overtook Lewis? It was changing conditions and they were each faster at different times. Lewis was ahead when he retired because he was very lucky with the safety car, and then had a good period in the middle of the race.

      Also – you say Jenson has to gamble on tyres all the time – how is it gambling when he nearly always get it right? Isn’t that just a skill?

      1. DANNY says:

        Button only finished ahead of Hamilton once in their three years together and has never looked like a threat for the championship.
        He raced hard against Hamilton but turned soft once he had the lead and had to defend against Hulkenberg. He lucked into the win.

      2. Doug says:

        Tyres, Tyres, Tyres.
        Button would have probably got both Hulk and Hamilton as his tyres were just clearing up their graining phase as the 2 H’s came together (he was faster on that lap!).

        The Friday practice times that Button did on the 2013 spec. rubber looked very quick. If the car is to his liking I can see Button being a major contender next year. Sadly, I can’t see Lewis doing much in the Merc…I hope I’m wrong though!

      3. david nelson says:

        Hamilton was 45+secs behind cos he couldn’t race on a greasy track. Hulkenberg was very fast and with hindsight it’s easy to say he was always going to make a mistake…….
        but he made 2 just to be sure.

        I agree that JB needs to be stronger on Saturday afternoons. Starting 5th/6th leaves too much to do for a win. But front row or third…..hmmm….evidence seems to point to him being a very strong racer. I’m not a Hamilton fan but I hope it’s not a lost cause. I worry that he’ll come out blazing then lose interest after a few races as the car goes nowhere. LH is just NOT a ‘development’ type driver leading a factory of 500+ people to the promised land. He wants to be given a great car then turn up at the last minute, put his jewellery and social-tech bling in the safe, then jump straight in the car and THRASH everyone. “No problem maayn!!!”.

        So much will depend on new tyres. Supposedly a wider operating window has been requested and accepted but with more degredation. JB was not good in 2012, at least not consistantly. In 2011 JB wass way better than LH. 2012 other way.

      4. aezy_doc says:

        I think it is a skill to do what Button does and he is very good at it. I think the problem is that Button doesn’t seem to have great races when the conditions are stable. Lewis did get lucky with the safety car, but then Button got lucky with safety cars in Montreal in 2011 – he still produced a storming drive to win though. Not really sure what I’m trying to say here. I think I agree that I worry about saturday pace for the McLaren pair. That said I do think they will win some races next year, more likely when conditions on Sunday are changeable.

      5. wezza says:

        Well jenson has had only one pole position in 3 yrs and Lewis finished higher than him in the final rankings

      6. Simmo says:

        And to add to that, Lewis is almost always faster (normally), and many of Jenson’s triumphs have been Lewis having bad luck, not to mention Singapore, Valencia, Abu Dhabi, etc. where Lewis has lost so much through no fault of his own.

      7. Elie says:

        A very narrow view- how many times did Hamiltons car breakdown this year and over the last three years and how many times of these was Hamilton leading the GP. Lewis was genuine title contender Jenson never was.

      8. Doug says:

        True, but that was because JB lost his way trying to get heat into the 2012 spec rubber. If you look at his season it started well & ended well…but the middle was a wash out. I’m happy to agree that he’s not as quick over a single lap as Lewis…but few people are!
        McLaren will miss Lewis next year…but not as much as Lewis will miss McLaren!

      9. bob says:

        Jenson was never a title contender???

        If I remember correctly, he was the ONLY driver capable of stopping Vettel last year.

        And as I recall, he is the ONLY McLaren driver for the last 4 years to finish higher than 4th in the WDC.

      10. Elie says:

        This year ,was he a title contender ? and last year RBR had already won by and at times the fastestSuzuka.? Only Lewis could come close in terms of speed in most races- jenson won through strategy In changing conditions.Lewis had collisions ( once because JB pushed him into the wall at Canada)Jenson only became a WC because of a double diffuser -plain & simple & I would say he would be very lucky to be a WC again.He is very crafty strategist, team operator but there are at least 6 faster drivers than him and even junior Perez will show him up next year.

      11. david nelson says:

        Elie, if you are suggesting that JB pushed LH into the wall at 130+mph as a tactic, perhaps you have him confused with Ayrton Senna. Lewis had collisions because he was totally frustrated and drove like a tosser. You probably think all the other drivers think he’s great and he’s Mr Popular in the paddock.

        Also why didn’t Barricello win the WDC in 2009? He had a double-diffuser – plain & simple. The reason was that while the Brawn had the clear advantage in the first part of the season Button trounced him. If you have the fastest car then you only have to beat your team-mate.

        Vettel won his fist two titles in a car with a dramatic advantage. No problem there I take it. The rabid Hamilton fans can’t deal with the fact that LH alienated himself from the people who count at McLaren so they have to
        blame JB. I suppose JB managed to persuade McLaren to give him a 45% pay increase and cut LH’s by 30%? What a dirty trickster that JB is.
        Durrr!!!

    3. bob says:

      Get a grip DANNY!

      If I recall, Button overtook Hamilton in that race and Hulk was in the process of overtaking Hamilton when they collided.

      So I guess you’re also questioning Hamilton’s rankings amongst the top guns too?

    4. Brian Jeffery says:

      Hulkenburg was about to pass Lewis when they collided!

    5. Jonathan Lodge says:

      sounds like you need to revice the way you read those volumes. Hulkenburg had followed Button for many laps letting Jenson take the gamble at each corner. The Hulk thought he could do better… and did for a few laps until he gambled too much and let Jenson retake the lead.

      It is always hardest to lead in changing conditions. Brazil showed just how near the limit Button drives in those conditions. His biggest skill is driving up to a limit and recognising it. So many others drive past the limit and pay the price. That is the intriguing point with Jenson and Lewis. Lewis often goes just past the limit and is usually able to avoid totally overdoing it. The last 3 years has shown just how close Jenson’s and Lewis’ driving styles really are – very close but sitting either side of the peak.

  5. F1addicted says:

    I predict that Perez will win an early race through circumstance and everyone will go crazy. Then he will carry on being average for the rest of the season.

    Lewis meanwhile, will excite and entertain at every race.

    1. Bones says:

      My thoughts exactly.

    2. JimmiC says:

      Heintz-Harald Perez…?

      1. Mike from Colombia says:

        Love it ! He even has the buck toothedness!

    3. Jake says:

      I would really like to know the truth on how McLaren came to the conclusion Perez was the driver to replace Hamilton. I have nothing against Perez, but just can’t see this working out. Perhaps a cost saving exercise, they can return their unused tires to Pirelli and get a refund… ;-)

  6. Grabsplatter says:

    James, what are your thoughts regarding Red Bull offering the A1-Ring for a GP next year if Turkey doesn’t happen?

    1. James Allen says:

      A nice vanity exercise, you win 3 x WDC and WCC so you host your own race..but A1 Ring was also a track I always enjoyed going to and it would look great with these cars on it. Why not?

  7. william says:

    As a Ferrari fanatic I’m pleased to see Hamilton parked at Mercedes for a few years so he can’t do much harm to the Reds. However Ferrari must up their pace because Hamilton will grow tired of losing and will return to McLaren to at least have a chance.

    1. Jake says:

      Ferrari are building a new car for 2013 as are Mercedes. Alonso and Hamilton might be racing closer than you think. Not a bad thing I might add.

      1. Fireman says:

        Are you sure? I though Ferrari’s 2013 car would be be evolutionary model of this year’s car.

      2. Fireman says:

        It doesn’t say that they’re scrapping the whole 2012 concept (as Mercedes has said). Ferrari did that after 2011 which got them the situation of not understanding the car at all in the beginning of this season. I’d be surprised if they take the same gamble again.

      3. Jake says:

        Yes, maybe I read too much into this, happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.
        However here is a thought; after blaming the car for pretty much all of their woes, how does continuing with the same car into 2013 stack up. If the cars qualifying pace has not improved significantly next year they will be rightly criticised for sticking with it, however if the car performs well the question could be asked why could they not get it to work in 2012 either way they will be damned.

      4. Fireman says:

        I guess they could go back to 2011 car. That wasn’t bad at all. It was a surprise that they didn’t continue evolving that concept.

        Ferrari tried to make a leap which backfired, but that’s F1.

    2. Brace says:

      I really don’t think it’s that simple. If actually Hamilton won Singapore instead of retiring, Alonso would have been champ. Also, Hamilton kind of helped Alonso by winning over Seb in USA and taking big 7 points off him.
      And this philosophy comes from the point of view that it’s Red Bull who must be stopped, not McLaren. They are currently the best package overall (speed, reliability, race operations). Ferrari might have been the best in 2nd and 3rd aspect, but lacked seriously in the first one.
      McLaren, opposite, great speed, but not that good reliability not race operations in the first part of the season.

      1. VanDhloms says:

        I don’t think championship outcome could have been decided by one event. Had HM won Singapore we may have had different decisions made by Red Bull which would have still resulted in Red Bull winning the champ. The point is, Red Bull winning and other teams not winning cannot be narrowed down to one event. Surely Singapore was one of many variables to the ultimate outcome, and I would like to think of all the variables dynamically affecting one another. It’s called “Cause and Effect”.

    3. Sebastian says:

      It seems people are forgetting that in 2014 there will be a new engine. I am sure Lewis is betting on Mercedes being A LOT more competetive then… this will just be his run in year with the team.

      1. AuraF1 says:

        I think too many fans are placing their whole faith in Lewis and the ‘new engine in 2014′ – Mercedes will be supplying several customer engines in 2014 and they’re regularly beaten by their customer teams already – plus the power advantage of the current merc engine is likely to be wiped out – not sure how any of this bodes well for some supreme silver arrow in 2014… Lewis is not an engineer – he is a very fast racer but he won’t be able to build a faster car.

      2. Paul says:

        no but there is also a big change in the aero aswell, in which ross brawn has shown his strength in these areas before…

    4. Iwan Kemp says:

      He may just slot into the Ferrari when Alonso decides it’s time for some siesta…

      Vettel at Red Bull, Lewis at Merc and Alonso at Ferrari; three of the best at three of the top teams. Perfect! Now all we need is for McLaren to get the MPXX to Button’s liking (or Perez to mature and race the crap out of it!) and Lotus to be consistantly good and we will have a five team five or six driver battle.

      Some great F1 years to come. Unless Team Newey nails the design of their cars over the next couple of years…

    5. Elie says:

      I’d be worried about Lotus too William- Raikkonen won’t take prisoners next year

  8. Sebee says:

    Did this move have a little bit to do with Lewis following Schimi? By the numbers Schumi is the man, and if Lewis can do better than Schumi at Mercedes he feels he is bettering greatness. We know how much Lewis likes F1 records and greats .

    Perhaps one of the selling points they used to make him switch, in addition to the be your own man, new challange ones.

  9. **Paul** says:

    Make or break time for Lewis. He has to rock up at Mercedes and destroy Rosberg, failure to do so will really lower peoples opinion of him. Afterall many people thought he’d thrash Button, and it was incredibly even between them both which has without question lowered Lewis’ stock whilst Jenson’s has risen. People can now see that Lewis is faster, but JB takes less gambles (a’la Alonso) and brings home solid points consistently – and the points tables reflect that.

    Failure to thrash Rosberg could see Lewis go the way of Jacques Villeneuve which would be a real shame.

    I predict Nico will be faster than most expect, and given Lewis a decent battle. Lewis has only known one team, and getting up to speed in a team he’s not familiar with may prove tougher than many imagine.

    The gains that Lewis can make in career from moving to Mercedes are small (excluding ££’s), the potential losses are huge to his reputation though. This is the biggest season of his career since 2007 IMO.

    1. Jake says:

      The Hamilton Button partnership was a lot more complicated than a straight forward dual between them. Without Hamilton setting the benchmark Button would have fallen back into his overly cautious driving style. Safe and conservative sure, but not going to win any championships against rivals such as Vettel and Alonso with equal or better hardware.
      When MacLaren were struggling with the tires and Button kept complaining about the grip, would he have been able to overcome this as quickly if Hamilton was not there to show the car did have genuine pace or would he still be running in the mid field blaming the car?
      Perez has potential for sure but is not a team leader at this point in his career. Button has to lead the team and sadly I don’t think he is up to it. If the car is very fast and there are no problems he may pull it off, but if MacLaren hit any snags, very likely given their performance this year, they are going to badly miss Hamilton.
      Has Hamilton really taken any risk joining Mercedes? They have ended 2012 running in the lower mid field; chances are high that they will perform better next year. Will this be purely due to Hamilton, probably a combination of several things, but he will get credited with it.
      Hamilton only has to make sure that he stays ahead of Rosberg to keep his reputation intact.
      Whether it is Rosberg or Button does it matter, I would rate both drivers fairly evenly, maybe Button slightly ahead but not much in it. As the car is going to be new Rosberg does not have any advantage in having a better understanding of the car. Winter testing will be sufficient for Hamilton to get to know the team therefore at the start of the season they will be on a level playing field.
      Let battle commence.

      1. TheBestPoint? says:

        This ++ re:Benchmark
        I wonder if JB is shitting himself just a bit over that particular challenge.
        He will have to get onto the right set up path fairly early on.
        He tweeted pic of himself with Lewis Race Engineer which was a bit weird in its timing (season not ended and he was supposed to be the competition). i eventually put it down to him being true to himself & playing to his strengths charming the support out of anyone who can help.

        The more articles I see citing the same “ready to lead Mclaren” which seem to abound on British internet sites, the more I believe that the media are repeatedly “picking that scab” to catch him out (or it could just be them lazily recycling a one off interview given weeks ago too).

        Interesting to see how he gets on.

        The other thing that will be interesting about Mclaren next year will how much support they give Perez – immediate equality support or no2 with option to improve? if they are looking for investment from Mexico and the Americas they may not have a choice but to make sure he shines from the get go which would make everything Jenson is saying now a bit of a nonsense.

    2. Colombia Concalvez says:

      You mean it’s make it or brake it for Button, i really don’t believe Button is able to keep McLaren at the front

      1. AuraF1 says:

        Well Hamilton hasn’t kept mclaren at the front since 2008 either – so it’s not really that much of a slight on button if he fails to do so as well.

      2. Elie says:

        Well yes he has only Hamilton could come close enough to challenge the Bulls since 2010 in outright pace, strategy, team mistakes and operational errors made a level playing field for Button at Mclaren without car failures Hamilton would have almost doubled Buttons points this year– guys seriously stop dreaming about Button .. Alonso who always fought with Lewis even acknowledged this more than once this year– you never hear top driver mention Button as regular threat.

      3. AuraF1 says:

        No only Alonso has really come close to threatening the red bulls in the past three years. And the one year he didn’t jenson was the closest. It’s fine to laud Hamilton as the greatest natural racer – but if you just casually ignore the actual results you sound like one of the fanbois.

        Alonso has also said that vetted is not responsible for his wins. Alonso says a lot of things to mess with his opponents. You need to stop dreaming that Lewis is just the automatic winner of everything and it’s always some bad luck on his part. He may be the fastest driver in history but if he can’t put a winning campaign together it doesn’t matter a jot. Being a world champion involves many aspects not just raw pace. You think Lewis will care if he’s remembered as that fast but permanently unlucky driver? Same for button. If he wins another WDC he’ll still be panned by Lewis fans who daren’t hear a word against their precious little object of adoration.

        Seriously I’m a mclaren fan and have always supported Lewis and then jenson when he arrived but I’m finding you have to talk to many of the dedicated Lewis stalker fans as if you’ve insulted their child. Nobody cares if Alonso says he’s a threat and nobody cares if you think he’s ‘owed’ the wins or if jenson is the worst driver ever. It’s called a world championship and the winner takes the glory – so vettel is currently the standard whether fans like us agree or not.

    3. SteveH says:

      I don’t think Hamilton has the personality to drive a team to greatness like MSC did with Ferrari. Lewis drives the car but doesn’t put his stamp on things. Schumaker drew Ferrari to himself, tested endlessly (F1 needs to allow testing again) and pulled Ferrari up. I personally didn’t like Schumaker’s bullying driving style, but I have to admit it worked. Lewis will struggle and be a passenger, not a leader.

      1. Alex says:

        The question is whether or not Lewis has been able to put his stamp on McLaren and make the team his own. Ron Dennis has alway said that no one driver is bigger than the team. Let’s not forget that Alonso eventually walked away from the team as intrinsically the team wouldn’t group around him.

    4. Kimi4WDC says:

      Ohh he did thrash Jenson. It will take me a while or something very special from Jenson to erase many memories this season of Jenson being totally clueless on camera to why he is so slow.

      That’s just not good enough.

      He is high up in ranking, but he has the car. Performance wise, good for him that he got three wins, but overall – I believe he did not earn his wages this season, considering the car he is driving.

    5. Andrew Munro says:

      “People can now see that Lewis is faster, but JB takes less gambles (a’la Alonso) and brings home solid points consistently – and the points tables reflect that.”

      Not really, the points tables reflect that if you take all events into account outside the drivers’ control (failures, operational errors) then Hamilton is ahead of Button comfortably.

  10. Irish con says:

    James it has been said that all the greats have droiven for Ferrari apart from Senna and Kackie Stewart. I think it’s only a matter of time before Vettel ends up in Ferrari but I would like to know if u think Hamilton will ever drive a Ferrari? Personally I think he would be a great fit there for the tifosi but maybe Vettel is a better fit with the team.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think it’s unlikely. I think Vettel will end up there post Alonso and I think Lewis will either stay with Mercedes or maybe end up at Red Bull, or back to McLaren

    2. Mike from Colombia says:

      Two things that I would love to see in the next five years. Alonso and Hamilton battling it out throughout a championship campaign without DRS…..and Hamilton driving a Ferrari.

      Being entirely honest, I don’t think that many Italian fans would be too happy to see Lewis as the face of Ferrari for all sorts of outdated cultural reasons. Anyone who has ever followed the Eurovision Song Contest will understand what I mean. Sorry, but unfortunately there is an elephant in the room here on this one. This must have always played in Ferrari’s mind when they have though about hiring him in the past.

      Character wise Hamilton would be just the right fit…aggressive and wringing the neck out of the car lap after lap. Very sad that Senna never drove a Ferrari and sad to think that Hamilton will also never end up doing so.

      Another big question…will Newey ever end up designing a Ferrari?

  11. Tim says:

    If Hamilton remains focused on avoiding trouble a la 2011, as he did this past year, his best ever, then good things will happen. If he tries too hard, to over-compensate for an under-performing car, then he’ll be involved, mid-pack, with a lot of incidents, especially at the start. The primary responsibility of putting a competitive car on the track is Mercedes’ (Brawn’s).

    Tim

  12. Brent McMaster says:

    James, when Hamilton signed, would Mercedes have been far enough along in their 2013 design that they may have be able to show Hamilton something in the works that would have made him believe the car was going to be quick?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, definitely they would show him. They think the numbers look good, but they have first to bridge the gap to the leading teams

  13. schumerak says:

    Jenson to become WDC in Lewis’ old team, or Lewis to do the same in Jenson’s old team…?

    Either would be a real feat, although I think Brawn will do a better job with next years Mercedes, I feel that the teams commitment to the unenforcable RRA has hurt their mid season development over the past 3 seasons, where towards the August break the Merc pace has always seemed to drop off, and the main 3 have gone on to fight for the honours, while the silver cars have been overtaken by Renault and ended up mid field.

    Shame as I thought when this happened to Brawn in 2009 it was due to the sales of the team and restructuring of management, It looks now as though they need to find a bigger dev budget to provide a continued assault through a 20 race season.

  14. Rich B says:

    Meaning no disrespect because I think Button is a great driver and Perez promising, but I believe McLaren have the weakest driver line up they’ve had in years.
    Since 2002 at least, when Kimi was in his first year at McLaren and DC who was past his best.

    I’m ignoring Pedro de la Rosa and Alex Wurz time in Montoya’s seat of course.

    1. Irish con says:

      That’s a great point there. Kimi was always better than button and person isn’t ready for mclaren in my opinion.

    2. Sebee says:

      Lewis @ Mercedes and McLaren are going to generate much discussion next year. Don’t let your figers get lazy boys and girls. Keep feet for the many articles and discussions we’re sure to have.

      I’m putting my money down on more of the same from Mercedes – with Lewis suffering as a result. No wins for Mercedes in 2013.

      I also think Button and McLaren will be just fine in 2013.

      1. Sebee says:

        Keep “FIT” This autocorrect is out of control!

        What are you doing Dave?

        I think you know what I’m doing autocorrect.
        I’m going to disable you now.

    3. Brace says:

      Compare that with 2007 lineup which is probably the best pairing since Prost/Senna. I know that Kimi and Montoya were supposed to be that kind of dynamite, but Montoya never really had a support of the team and Kimi was a bit disinterest and on his way out by then.

      And then came 2007.

      I seriously can’t believe that after having Alonso and Hamilton (two best drivers on the grid, even back then) few years ago, they now have Button and Perez. You can’t put a positive spin on that.

      1. Grant says:

        Damn… from Hamilton/Alonso to Button/Perez :D

      2. Sebee says:

        Wow, when you put it like that, there is no way to spin it. But let me try.

        They have a World Champion driver!

        Seriously, I thought about this and I think they may have some sponsor contract commitments to have a WDC winning driver in their car. Button’s presence may have made their decision to “let Lewis go” easier as they were able to satisfy that at a lower cost with Button. I really think Button is quite safe now at McLaren at least for 2 seasons. How long is his contract anyway?

        I theorized a while back that McLaren is going through a bit of a lean period and is looking very Williams-ish in actions lately. I think this decision had everything to do with economics – obviously. But they are playing it like it didn’t. Are McLaren finally losing Vodafone this year or not?

      3. Elie says:

        Oh yeah Sebee a world champion who finished outside the top 10 a few times this year in the fastest car. How often do you see Hamilton outside the top 5 barring car damage, or team cock ups

      4. Sebee says:

        Is Button ever taking a beating here! He better step up. If Mr. Slim starts spending mad money on Perez’s car (a la Maldonado @ Williams) and thus he starts beating Button to a pulp in 2013 it won’t be pretty.

      5. Sebee says:

        Bruce,

        I knew I read this somewhere – it was in the Telegarph in September. Would explain Perez for your of course. Williams is getting some of that South American sponsor money, McLaren doing a very Williams-ish move as I said above?

        >
        The attraction of Perez, apart from his extraordinary ability to manage his tyres which has seen him move through the field with indecent haste on various occasions both this year and last, is his relationship with Telmex and its chairman and CEO Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man.

        The telecommunications giant would be a welcome addition to the McLaren stable should Vodafone decide not to renew its title sponsorship deal, as has been rumoured.

      6. Rockie says:

        Mclaren would be fine without Hamilton as Checo opens up Mexico to them its as if people don’t realize Mclaren is a biz as well and didn’t watch the Austin GP do people realize how much there is to be made in Mexico I see a Mclaren showroom with Checo on display there and how about this Telmex is based in Mexico and its made its owner the richest man in the world so I see a lot of marketing opportunities for Mclaren

      7. Sebee says:

        Rockie,

        Of course you have a very valid point. People get too emotional, too attached to Lewis or other drivers. Detach and approach it logically.

        If Hamilton was expensive and demanded a big premium, it is not shame for McLaren to walk away from that purchase. They figured that’s a resource(money) drain on a competitor.
        Meanwhile, they go get Perez, who has potential to bring in big money and contribute to the team. Every driver is pay driver in the end. Even Alonso and his link to Santander is probably a big part of why he’s in a Ferrari.

        3 years from now, Lewis is rich, but if no results reputation takes a beating – and perhaps McLaren can get him back for less. And if not, there will always be options.

        So to bring the message full circle, no need to get emotional and attached. All good things come to an end. The World will end in 10 days according to some, so Lewis may never actually be a Mercedes driver.

  15. Matt W says:

    I know Mclaren are on the PR drive and Lewis is doing the wise thing by leaving on good terms, but this has to be a massive blow for Mclaren. As much as they state this is all about an exciting new challenge and project for Lewis, we all know that the move has happened mainly because Mclaren let him down very badly this season.

    To take just one drivers title in the last decade is an absolutely appalling record from a team of Mclaren’s status and for all intents and purposes, Mercedes actually have a better record with the Brawn double in the drivers and constructors in 2009. From that point of view, Hamilton has probably made a smart move!

    I say this as someone who really admires Mclaren, what they stand for, what they are up against in terms of long standing politics and really respect their history. However, it can’t be ingnored that Mclaren simply aren’t delivering results and haven’t for a long time.

    Ferrari (of the modern era) simply wouldn’t accept these kind of results. Indeed 2012 is seen as a massive disappointment for them despite very nearly taking the championship. I feel Ron needs to take a role similar to Montezemelo, with Whitmarsh running the day to day team, but under no illusions that a continued lack of results will not be tolerated. Mclaren need to really get serious if they want to return to their glory days.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      Umm, mclaren won more recently than Ferrari? And Ron does have the same role as montezemelo – he’s the manager of the group. There’s just a more national political edge at ferrari – other than that whitmarsh is in the role of domenicali.

      1. Matt W says:

        Ferrari have won 4 WDCs in the last decade and 5 WCCs. Mclaren have just one WDC during which they actually won less races that Ferrari I believe.

        Ron doesn’t have the same role as I understand it. He is more focused on the road car division. Mclaren need an overall president to oversee the direction of the company and set goals that the team should be meeting. Their results over the last decade do not match their size, history or importance in the sport. Something needs to change culturally within the team.

      2. AuraF1 says:

        The point was the most recent which was what I was replying to but you are correct on the number of wins if you are talking about particular decades.

        Ron is the CEO of the mclaren group so that’s the same position as montezemelo, if you want to argue with the man himself I suppose you can.. The only difference is Ron says he leaves the F1 team to Martin whitmarsh but does interfere occasionally in the negotiations and montezemelo says domenicali is in charge but he doesn’t shy away from stepping in when the Italian media cry for blood. The difference is only really due to the corporate avenues of both Ferrari and mclaren group, but that’s true of most companies.

    2. Rockie says:

      The only reason that Ferrari see this season as a disappointment is because they realise Mclarens capitulation hid there own flaws.

    3. Alex says:

      I completely agree that Mclaren have been underachieving for a long time. I see it in terms of Adrian Newey. It may be simplistic in these terms but in his 6 seasons with Williams, Newey designed cars enabled the team to win 6 constructors titles and 4 drivers championships. In his 6 seasons (so far) with Red Bull we all know what his cars have done. Compare this to his 9 seasons with McLaren with only 1 constructor’s and 2 driver championships. Also arguably were it not for McLaren’s lack of reliability and technical problems it might be Kimi the multiple world champion and not Alonso.

  16. OJ says:

    Unfortunately, this may well be the end of Lewis Hamilton, he won’t have the car to do it next year. Hamilton should have stayed to reassert authority over Mclaren but chose the easier way a la alonso 2007 when he found that his teammate was more than a match for him. Button has taken over at Mclaren and will more likely be DWC than Hamilton. I can’t wait for next season with the two best drivers (Alonso and Button) battling out, maybe Raikkonnen or Vettel too.

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        Yes but remember Villneuve and his decline once leaving Williams?

      2. Sebee says:

        Ouch! But how true! He followed the big payday and that was that. But in Jacque’s case with his vision issues it was probably a good move. For Lewis…that chapter is yet to be written. But it is “the same” team after all.

      3. AuraF1 says:

        True and to most drivers that would be fine – if they didn’t win a WDC til their 30s they’d be overjoyed at that. But Lewis is too focused on a certain 25 year old triple champion. I think it’s eaten at him too much. He still has a decade or so to win 3 titles like his hero, but he knows he’ll never be the youngest or the most decorated. Most of his fans won’t care and don’t see it that way but I get the impression it bothers him more than his fans.

      4. Stephen Taylor says:

        James,
        I know this is off topic, but what do you think about the prospect of Sutil rejoining Force India? Would it not be a disaster for the teams’ PR and sponsors should he return, especialy because he is a convicted criminal?
        Stephen

      5. James Allen says:

        Mmm

        He would have some issues getting a US visa too

        F1 people seemed quite relaxed in Brazil about him potentially coming back

    1. Andrew Munro says:

      Yeah, Button showed he was more than a match for anyone on the grid this year…

    2. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      If Rosberg did a pole and get a formidable win in 2012 with such a dog car, Hamilton can have more than that in 2013, eh!

      Remember in 2012 Hamilton out-qualified Button 17-3.

      It would be a shame that Button gets valuable points, wins and podiums because PEREZ was ahead of him and just crash or have reliability issues.., eh!

    3. Liam in Sydney says:

      You are forgetting he will have 100% factory access to the Mercedes engine for 2014, the most powerful in dyno testing, meaning he will possibly be the front runner leading into the 2014 season.

    4. Elie says:

      Hamilton matured this year and his performance was first class. Like James said he is only 27 and even Vettel ‘Alonso fear him more than any other driver- yet people like you have written him off already !! Truly Unbelievable !

      Its no wonder Raikkonen cares little for most peoples opinion- because half the fans are muppets – when someone wins they think he is superman and the minute he comes 3rd or 4th – he’s a nobody to them. I fully understand his nonchalant attitude because very few understand the behind the scenes and politics of the sport and how it effects the results- he’s lived it with Ferrari & Mclaren. I think Lewis is non political also and just wants a chance to grow with a team and I hope Mercedes are the same for him as Lotus for Kimi.

      Lewis and Raikkonen are the best racers Ive seen this century and I hope they are still around for a few years at least- formula 1 would be boring as batshit without them.

      1. Rockie says:

        Its sad that fans like you believe what Alonso says as it was all mind games while they were writing love letters to each other Vettel was re-writing F1 history, right now in F1 for all Alonso’s heroics the benchmark is Vettel that young boy is showing people how to drive an F1 car coming from 44pts behind is no joke Alonso choked as he knew Vettel was closing in fast hence the crash in suzuka not even after Hamiltons help in Austin I think wat took it to the last day was Redbull’s error in Abu-dhabi.

      2. Elie says:

        Rockie, I’m certainly no fan of Alonso or Ferrari, and good on Sebastian for his success. I never judge drivers in F1 only by their success (Raikkonen to me will always be a triple World Champion) or only what other people say, but more so by how they drive and taking into account the team failures/successes. Seb was beaten by his 36 y/o team mate more than twice this year and Mark constantly battled KERS failures etc. So it tells me one thing Sebastian is lightening quick when the car is perfect and boy has it been perfect in the last 3rd of the season-at times more than a second quicker over a single lap ! Still he was hunted down and passed by Hamilton at Austin and again were it not for mclaren breakdowns-Hamilton would have easily won Singapore and Abu Dhabi-so how lucky was Sebastian Vettel – because that would have handed Alonso the win.I’m glad Fernando did not win but I cant say I’m happy Seb did too. 2012 Will always be the year that Mclaren lost Lewis another world title -Just like they did Raikkonen in 2003 & 2005 -& why I fully supported his move to Mercedes. & Whilst I dont even like Fernando – he is a much better driver than Sebastian- how many times did Sebastian crash into someone this year..must be at least 5 times. How many times were Hamilton, Alonso or Raikkonen at fault ???- Seb has a long way to go to be as good as these guys…but the scary part is he is a triple world champion despite this.

  17. Val from montreal says:

    Hamilton fans need to worry just a bit … In all honesty , Schumacher could of renewed his Mercedes contract in the summer time but was’nt really interested … That’s becsuse he was FED UP and saw nothing positive coming from that team in 2013 … If Schumacher was younger he maybe would of continue with Mercedes but the writing was on the wall …. He knew it … Unless Mercedes , err I mean Brackley AKA = proven losers , come out with some sort of miracle innivation on next year’s car , your driver wont do much …. The best he can hope for is a couple of 4th places finishes …. Wins and championships ??? Never in a million years ……

    1. JimmiC says:

      He’s still young and still quick. Even if that Mercedes ends up no faster than an A-class for three years, there’ll still be interest in him from the form teams. The way people are going on, it’s like he’s signed a ten year unbreakable deal with Forti. If it works, and the 2014 car is a blinder he’s a hero. If it doesn’t, he ups and finds another team such is his currency.

    2. Andrew Munro says:

      Sorry, but you’re kidding yourself if you think Mercedes aren’t delighted to have gotten Hamilton in instead of Schumacher.

  18. Horno says:

    First of all I would like to admit that I’m a real Ferrari Tifoso and an Alonso Fan..
    But I truly hope that Hamilton will have a descent car next year at Mercedes. This year I really started to see the raw talent that Hamilton is, ok, maybe you will say that this is a little late.. true! but better late than never!

    And regarding Button/Mclaren.. I agree with what Jake said and I don’t rate Button that high compaired to other F1 WDC’s! (sorry)

    My predictions for next year:
    -Red Bull will be fast straight out of the box.
    -Ferrari will be a great question mark, but the will not be worse than this year.
    -Mclaren, car potential but the drivers remain a question mark for me.
    -Lotus will be a little bit of the same.. but Raikkonen will be better, same for Grosjean if he remains at the team.
    -Mercedes must produce a great car, 3 years in a row that have failed.
    -Sauber will be at the same performences level as this year which means they will loose places.
    -Force India has potential, but Di Resta remains a question mark for me, has not really deliverd yet.
    -Williams might be better than this year, they have tasted succes this year and with Maldonado they have somebody who can deliver.
    -Torro Rosso have to up their game otherwise I think next year will be one of the last years.
    -Marussia another year at the back, but better than previous years.
    -Catherham another year at the back, but better than previous years.

    1. thejudge13 says:

      Lotus are looking good financially. They apparently are about to announce one of the biggest ever F1 team sponsorship deals http://wp.me/p2HWOP-GR

  19. aveli says:

    f1 is all about the big guns, ecclestone, mosley and dennis. one of them once said, “if you put a gun to my head, you better have a bullet in it and you bllody well make sure you oull the trigger.”
    mclaren and ferrari tried to break away remember? and during their arguments, one was coincidently exposed with protitutes, the other mugged and beaten up by thugs while another faced a £50m fine.
    i can’t wait to see the outcome of next season.

  20. Vinola says:

    Hi James

    It looks like my copy of your book is being shipped (by GP Legends) to an old address. I’m pretty sure I filled in current address. Who to contact?
    Thanks

      1. Vinola says:

        Thanks. Its taken care of.

  21. OJ says:

    ‘It ain’t about the price tag…’. Have you heard of Jessie J, Lewis?

  22. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    I think everybody can do well in a Sauber car, but it’s not the same in McLaren or Ferrari.
    So it is a big challenge for Checo and maybe a happy year for Hulk.

  23. Richard says:

    I will be following Lewis at Mercedes next year, and I hope the car is decent, and I think there is a good chance it will be as the Mercedes team has been expanded and developed. That said I will also be keeping an eye on how McLaren are doing. – They make great looking cars, but they have not necessarily been fast. This year has been different with failings in that team pulling Lewis back out of contention in the championship, indeed possibly winning it had they had all their ducks in a row. As for the Lewis-Jenson partnership I prefer to think of it as 2-1 to Lewis, as overall points tally is misleading with relative position being more important. That said I think the Pirelli tyres have badly reined in Lewis’s performance, and had we been on Bridgestones Jenson would have been somewhat further to the rear. Drivers must be allowed to race that’s what it’s all about not a tyre conservation and strategy contest which merely protects the car in free air at the front.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I think button would have fared better on bridgestones actually – his famous ability to conserve tyres was lost with the ‘made to degrade’ pirellis. As many pointed out the pirellis have been a bit of a lottery for everyone. There’s no benefit in conservation or aggression – either might work or fail at any given race weekend.

      1. Richard says:

        The point about the tyres really is that the chasing car is at a disadvantage with the dirty air produced by modern aerodynamics. DRS has been introduced to try to counter the problem, but the damage is done to the tyres in the run up to the overtake to be close enough for DRS to be effective. It’s absolutely ludicruous to run high deg. tyres with modern aerodynamics. – Just plain silly! There’s no doubt Jenson did very well in the second half of his second year at McLaren, but the car was still not good enough to take on Red Bull. In that second half Jenson performance was up, and Lewis was down in the dolrums which perhaps is a bit misleading in any comparison. This year had McLaren not made the mistakes they did, and not had the reliability problems then Lewis perhaps could have won the championship with more wins (possibly 7/8/9) than Sebastion eventually managed. It’s very unfortunate for him, and its proven just how good the Red Bull team actually are.

  24. richardc says:

    Some good points but please can someone tell me how is it that all the “experts”, other drivers,team principals say LH is one of the fastest drivers as well as the biggest car manufacturer in the world. Yet there are still people writing in and saying Button is quicker.I just cannot see how any right minded person would want JB instead of LH?? I was a Mcl fan but think the team have seriously messed up this season both on and off the track. When I say that they did JB no favours either. The team I believe have started to believe their own Bulls*^t. To listen to Sam Micheal on the podcast is almost unbelievable. After millions of pounds have been invested in a team they managed to forget to put enough fuel in the car!!!Operational mistakes cost the team the chance to win the WDC for BOTH drivers coupled with JB,s inability to quallify at the front. Good luck to LH next year Mcl are finished and he is better of without them.

    1. Richard says:

      Well I have to agree with you that McLaren messed up big time this year when they could have won the drivers championship with Lewis. Their apparent inability to get the set up right on Jenson’s car cost him dear with no points in quite a number of races. So McLaren failed on setups, failed on operational matters, and allowed reliability issues to impact on the teams performance. If it were a school report one would be reading must try harder, but in reality they should get real, and work more cleverly. Somehow I think they are too corporate, and unless they modify their approach they will not be good enough to win another championship as Red Bull have raised the bar with the way they operate.

  25. Colombia Concalvez says:

    McLaren is gonna feel it, Lewis was the backbone at McLaren or the works horse if you like. I simply cannot see Button keeping McLaren at the front with his limited skills, every year he has moments where he is invisible same as in 2010 where he was a very large part of that year invisible, in 2011 the first half he was invisible and again in 2012. In Brazil he only drove well because he drove Lewis his set up and not his own and even Horner says that McLaren is weaker, i also was reading a comment from Helmut Marko saying that they won’t look at McLaren because they don’t see McLaren as a threat so next year will be a make it or brake it for Button to be honest the prospects don’t look to bright in my opinion

  26. Gareth says:

    Why does everyone seem to criticize Jenson Button? He isnt Lewis Hamilton and has a more of an Alain Prost style of driving at times, but he uses his head when racing. You don’t win 6 races and a championship by luck. As for Perez, all he has done since he got the Mclaren drive is crash a lot. If this continues in 2013, I dont expect him to see out the season with the team. Mclaren have done it before with Montoya and Andretti

    1. AuraF1 says:

      Unfortunately for button he’s not a particularly exciting racer – he’s incredibly competent – but that upsets a lot of the macho contingent who think that only driving into walls shows true courage.

      Sad to say if button won the WDC next year too many fans would be screaming that it was ‘all the car’ whereas if Lewis won it would be ‘him dragging Mercedes up!’ and vice versa – if button loses it won’t be the car, just his poor race skill – whereas if Lewis fails it will be ‘an expectedly shoddy 2013 car – this is just a warm up year!’

      Not that I think button could care less about this tbh. It’s just the sort of fan mania that clouds accurate assessment.

      1. Robert says:

        +1 at this. Button excels at being the smoothest driver possibly in F1 – and on the right tyres that pays huge dividends. He’s also one of the more strategic, at reading races and weather. But he’s not exciting as some others are.

        I happen to like him, in part because I seriously started to watch F1 in 2009, which was his year. And what I saw was a journeyman who had shown flashes of brilliance in karting and occasionally in the unreliable BAR, and even challenged Ferrari in an outclassed car. Who had to wait until into his 30s to finally find his maturity and his break, and who – incredibly even to him I think – won his WDC. I expected him to totally be destroyed by Lewis at McLaren – but the points say otherwise…and given what McLaren started his contract at, he was an absolute bargain per point scored. This year the tyres simply didn’t suit those that drive smoothly and who can’t heat them, and JB suffered. Still had three wins and some podiums. Next year’s tyres are supposed to have a wider window, we know the McLaren is fast, and JB should still be near the top of his game – even if he isn’t that exciting. He doesn’t get my vote as the best driver on the grid (Alonso), but he’s probably the one I’d most want to go drinking with….

    2. Kimi4WDC says:

      You seriously comparing Prost with Button? This is madness!

      1. Gareth says:

        Kimi4WDC, Look at his car control, unexciting yes but he uses his head, he has a Prost mentality, I never said he was Prost

  27. I enjoyed the podcast – would love to hear more about some of things that were hinted at:

    1. What Alonso is really like in the paddock

    2. Why Romain was quicker than Kimi those few mornings…

    Prob can’t get an official answer :) but perhaps some contributors might be able to help??

  28. Cos says:

    @ OJ ‘
    It ain’t about the price tag…’ Have you heard of Jessie J, Lewis?

    err sorry you mean to tell me Vettel with the massive drinks company backing him, Schumi, Button or anyone else for that money isn’t in it for the money?? Please…I think folks are so used to seeing / hearing about Hamilton being at McLaren for so long when he moves they suddenly think its only for the money……. How about the fact mentioned above by Matt W….i.e. that McLaren have only won 1 WDC in the last 10 years (or is it more..think last MacLaren WDC before Hamilton was Mika in 99) ?

    As a Hamilton fan and somone who grew up watching the red and white Marlboro sponsored McLarens tearing around I can accept that both McLaren and Hamilton have made mistakes…last year mainly Hamilton and this year mainly McLaren. I for one loved the pairing and am sad to see them part ways I will still continue to support Hamilton…II mean come on;
    Brawn + Schumi = ?
    Brawn + Button = ?
    and now
    Brawn + Hamilton…

    sure it won’t happen straight away but it will happen (and yes I know there is the Newey factor but lets remember its not just him its the team of engineers and designers under him, who we all know move around the teams) watch this space!!!

  29. jim says:

    IIRC, Mercedes pulled out of Mclaren ownership because Merc wanted to slot Nico with Lewis. RD shot that down, so Mercedes sold out their shares and bought Brawn. FF a couple years and Merc poach Lewis to slot with Nico. What was RD thinking??? He loses the Merc $$$ and the face of his team, just to keep NR out??? Seems pretty dumb to me, but what do I know…

  30. Elie says:

    I’m another that will follow Mercedes in 2013. First Lotus then Mercedes – I don’t care for the other 3 they are too big and too political and way too smug. Raikkonen and Hamilton are the best racers this century and as good as the others are – they are not pure racers like these 2 and this is why their fans tend to be passionate because they keep us on edge of our seats and they don’t like the BS politics that Fernando & Jenson , and even Vettel are so smitten with.

    I was almost ready to back Mercedes but as soon as they signed Schumi I was a bit deflated . I think they will improve this year and I think Lotus will make small gains too- whether its enough Im not so sure. But I also see Mclaren going slightly backwards before going forwards in the 2nd part of 2013. By which time I reckon Perez will be beating Button on a regular basis. I really hope Perez goes his own way on car set up be wise this will be crucial to his success.

    1. Cos says:

      although I agree with much of what you are saying, but I think saying that FA, SV and JB are the only drivers in the paddock that ‘like’ the BS politics as you put it, then I’m affraid you are mistaken. In the paddock the work place of F1 drivers and teams and everyone associated with it you play the game so to speak ….just like in every day life, office /work place politics…everyone plays the game….Hamilton may not (appear) to like it as much as some others but to say he doesnt do it too is a bit much.

      Also not sure about Perez beating Button on a regular basis (time will tell)…with the amount of time JB has been in F1 he’s a very shrewd driver…think of him like Alain Prost…a very fluid driver. I personally think that although McLaren have openly said they don’t follow RB and Ferrari’s belief of No1&No2 drivers they (McLaren) have got one Former WDC and Perez…who do you think they will favour?

      But as I said at the start….only time will tell…what ever happens, can’t wait for 2013 to start.

  31. Jake says:

    I believe Mercedes decided quite some time ago that there was something fundamentally wrong with the 2012 car that prevented its development throughout the season. It was not a bad car at the start but it just did not improve at the same rate as the competition and was left looking ordinary.
    From the results of the last third of the season it looks like they gave up trying to improve the beast and concentrated on work that would benefit the new 2013 car.
    My money is on this new car being a big improvement over the current model and will get better over the season. It would be a dream too far to be on the Red Bull race pace from the start but up there with the Ferrari would be a great achievement.

  32. tom in adelaide says:

    The fact that Ferrari finished higher than McLaren should cost Whitmarsh his job. The McLaren was miles ahead on pace.

  33. tom in adelaide says:

    On another note James, what’s happening with Jaime? I thought he was all set to announce an F1 drive? Seems like that may have fallen through….

    What a waste of talent.

    1. James Allen says:

      Still waiting to hear who has the Force India drive

  34. Craig in Manila says:

    2013 looks like it will have so many “sub plots” that it may well be a very interesting season irrespective of the racing !

    - Can Button be a real No.1 ?
    - Is Sergio the real deal ?
    - Can Seb do it again ?
    - Will Mercedes continue to be Mediocre ?
    - Can Lewis keep his cool if Merc continues to struggle ?

    And further :

    Was it a sponsor-requirement that Sam Michael paint his face to match the colour of his vodafone t-shirt (above photo) ? Or was it a problem with the tanning machine in the McLaren Motorhome ?

  35. George says:

    Hi James,
    something a bit off topic. Do you think the FIA will release a circuit for next year in order to have 20 GP’s. I know Austria is keen and it could be an F1 first for an F1 team to have a home Grand Prix- as the Austrian Grand Prix is now known as the Red Bull Ring.

    Also James, how will other teams react to this if it is part of the 2013 calender?

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      They will be fine . They’ve raced there before (well most of them) . After all mclaren and Ferraris sponsors sponsor Grand Prixs

  36. Mike says:

    Just looked at total points scored and average championship finishing position since JB joined mclaren. They should be happy it wasnt JB that left.
    Points: JB 672, LH 657. Ave championsp position: JB 4.0, LH 4.3
    And thats including Jensons 1st year getting used to the team. And I’m not including the previous year, 2009, when JB won the championship!
    Just saying coz hes exciting to watch and fast on 1 lap it dont make him more attractive to teams.

    1. Cos says:

      although the numbers show that…they only paint half the season…eg Schumi with allhis victories and stats people still remember some of his on track ‘foibles’ ….in the same way that in years to come people will look at the stats surrounding Seb whilst always remembering the gossip surrounding ‘that car’

      .statistics, statistics and all that.

    2. Mike from Colombia says:

      Difference is…JB has never been perceived as a real contender for the championship during any of these years. Hamilton was – in 2010 and 2012.

  37. Rob says:

    Whitmarsh has been and will be punished severely for trying to drag Hamilton down to the low level of Button.

    I don’t care much for F1 any more because of DRS and lack of mechanical grip, but I sure do look forward to seeing Button fall flat on his face and Hamilton making a world of difference to Mercedes…

    If it weren’t for Hamilton’s move to Merc, I would have zero interest in F1 next year… and this is the honest truth.

    1. OJ says:

      Eh? I think you’ll find that Button is a better driver than Hamilton, which is why Whitmarsh got rid of Hamilton and kept Button – he wasn’t worth the hassle :P

  38. Richardc says:

    Sam Micheal is not only trying to kid us he is kidding himself! Of course MCL won,t dwell on it, they never do.Maybe that is the problem, they need to take a step back and look in the mirror. A lot of the top management are responsible for some catastroffic mistakes this season so when one of them makes a statement, who listens or cares what they think!!

  39. Richardc says:

    What a load of rubbish! The team have lost LH the average points you have so delicately put down on paper. You are kidding yourself if you honestly believe the crap you have written!

  40. Stone the crows says:

    It was inevitable that Lewis would leave Mclaren. Its unrealistic to think that he would stay there till the day he retired from Formula One. And there’s no reason to think that Lewis’ intentions in switching teams are anything but genuine. Despite losing a great talent one wonders if Martin Whitmarsh didn’t heave a sigh of relief and happily throw his Prilosec in the dustbin now that he won’t be having the regular and frequent dramas that have played out during Lewis’s tenure. That said, I expect that we’re going to see a transformed Mercedes team in 2013, they have the means and the talent to move up the pecking order and will have no more excuses for their mediocre results. With fewer changes in specifications and a season of lessons learned about managing the Pirellis, I think Ross Brawn will come out swinging with a car that is competitive and winning strategy to go with it. However it must give Hamilton a moment of pause to leave Mclaren and go to a team with which a 7 time world champion said he learned how to lose.

  41. audifan says:

    even alonso says that hamilton is the quickest driver in F1 ….and with his new found maturity [ doesn't feel he must win every race ] expect to see him regularly on the podium in the improved 2013 mercedes ..a win even ?….not unless his luck changes

    other forecasts for 2013?

    big mac produce a reliable car to button’s taste and button WDC

    massa with confidence restored embarasses alonso

    grosjean retained and matches kimi

  42. Robert says:

    Norbert Haug to leave Mercedes. Still keeping to my prediction that Mercedes will not last long enough in F1 to see out Lewis’s Contract.

  43. Elie says:

    There were many incidents in 2011 for Lewis and not all of them were his fault including clash with Massa at Monaco – so yes I agree he was frustrated on occasions along with being parked behind Red Bulls the whole year I dont think its quite as simple as many detractors would have you think. The incident at Canada was very clear to me, Jenson knew he was there and just moved over & blocked him- in those conditions it was the same as being pushed. I’m not saying Lewis is an angel but I don’t agree with half the stuff he was ridiculed for last year- but agree it was his worst season- even then Jenson was barely a match. With all the MP4-27 failures whilst Lewis was winning a GP this year Jenson would be lucky to see half the points- and if people can’t see this- I feel very sorry for them.

    Only just beating Reuben’s in 2009 who was close to retiring was not something I would be too excited about. – No disrespect intended to Reuben’s.

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