F1 Winter Break
Could Hamilton leave McLaren?
Could Hamilton leave McLaren?
Posted By:   |  07 Apr 2009   |  7:05 am GMT  |  134 comments

The papers are full of the ‘rift’ between Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren team over the Melbourne ‘lie-gate’ scandal. They talk of the relationship being ‘on a knife-edge’.

So will it happen? Will Lewis leave the team that has nurtured him since he left primary school? And if that were to happen, which team would he move to?

We have been here before with Lewis. He and his father Anthony were very unhappy about the politics swirling around the team during the 2007 championship, when McLaren were embroiled in the spy scandal surrounding Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan. Many things happened during that season, which took their breath away and made them wonder about whether to quit the sport. F1 is unlike any other level of motorsports because of the sheer intensity of the competition and the ferocity of the politics. Despite many years of studying for the starring role, Hamilton couldn’t believe the baggage that came with it.

And it quickly became apparent that being a McLaren driver, particularly that summer, made him even more of a target than he had imagined. The team seemed to be embroiled in one issue after another.

Hamilton’s reputation did not sustain much damage that summer as a result of the spy story, he was exonerated of any involvement, had no part in the email traffic between team mate Fernando Alonso and test driver Pedro de la Rosa which did for the team. There is no evidence that Lewis knew about the Ferrari data.

However, if you recall, McLaren told the first hearing into the spy story that the information did not pass beyond Coughlan into the organisation. With the subsequent discovery of the email traffic, they were forced to come clean and admit that the Ferrari data had penetrated deep into the company. It was a similar pattern of behaviour to what we saw from them in the days after Melbourne, initial denial, call it deception if you will, then getting caught out by fresh evidence, then grovelling apology. The two situations have significantly damaged McLaren’s integrity and reputation as a sporting institution. Hamilton was not damaged by association with the first, but definitely is through direct involvement in the second.

There were times during that period in 2007 and again in 2008, as Lewis was picking up penalties on the track, when you heard Anthony Hamilton openly wondering whether they should just get out of F1. But the raging ambition to win the world title, to fulfil what they saw as their destiny, kept them in it. Hamilton brought many of the penalties on himself, with his uncompromising approach, but somehow being on McLaren’s team seemed to make it all worse.

Now the Hamiltons are openly questioning whether they can stay at McLaren after all that has happened in the last week. They look across at Massa at Ferrari and Kubica at BMW and wonder why they are not constantly in the political cross-hairs?

Hamilton: "I'm sorry"
Malaysia has made Hamilton feel like Michael Schumacher did in 1994, when Benetton was getting hammered for ‘cheating’ over an illegal launch control system and a dodgy fuel filter. Schumacher was also banned for a few races that summer after ignoring a black flag at Silverstone. He and his manager felt that they had to get away from Benetton to stop the association of his name with cheating and that process led him to Ferrari in the summer of 1995.

Hamilton has grounds for feeling the same way now. It seems to have been established and accepted that he was ‘told’ to mislead the stewards, so should he move to save his reputation from further damage?

On top of that he looks at the team’s general situation at the moment. McLaren have built him a slow car, that’s not the end of the world, but they are likely to face some kind of heavy sanction for their behaviour in Melbourne and Sepang and that must impact on their ability to recover and move forward as a team. They have lost a key organisational figure in Dave Ryan and may yet lose their new team principal Martin Whitarsh, which would leave the ship pretty rudderless.

It would be an earthquake if he were to leave McLaren, given the history, but they are weighing up whether the team is just pre-destined to keep shooting itself in the foot and whether he’d be better off out of there.

So where would he go? Ferrari is the first name on the list, but his old nemesis Fernando Alonso has got their first. He has an agreement to join Ferrari in 2011, with an option for 2010 if Raikkonen underperforms this season.

BMW? There are several problems with BMW, first they already have Robert Kubica and may feel that they do not need Hamilton. Second they are not a team which spends big money on drivers.

Brawn? They have the fastest car at the moment, but that is because they bought themselves a big headstart by not showing up last season. They won’t be able to do that again so easily. The big teams will catch up.

However, if we get the budget cap of £30 million or more, then this will level the playing field in the favour of teams like Brawn. The manufacturers would not be able to beat them on resources alone.

I find it fascinating that the person in power to whom Hamilton appears to have turned for advice in recent days is Max Mosley. He’s clearly learned what Schumacher knew, that the best way to stay ahead of the others is to have a good relationship with the man who makes the rules. Brawn GP is important for Mosley because it is a blue print for his vision of the sport; a well engineered, lean team with customer engines. Low-cost, high quality F1.

The Brawn model is important now, just as re-invigorating Ferrari was in 1996.

If Hamilton were to join forces with Brawn, it would give the team huge commercial appeal, as Schumacher’s arrival gave Ferrari. Brawn says he is looking for ‘strong partners’ for the future. He didn’t say those partners couldn’t be drivers….

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I sometimes wonder if Hamilton would be better in a different team. He spent so long coming up through the ranks as part of McLaren that it built up this massive bubble of hype that seems as connected to the team as it is to Hamilton. I think that was a large factor in the problems with Alonso and again here. Perhaps one of his biggest mistakes was in pledging his career publicly to the team in his first season. I seem to remeber a lot of stories along the lines of "Hamilton will drive for McLaren for rest of career" during that first season.

James Lindfield

I'd love to see Hamilton at Brawn... We'd finally find out who's better - Button or Hamilton? The clear differences in thier style would make for awesome battles in qualifying and on race days.


well, since piquet doesnt seem to be performing at the level of alonso, why doesnt lewis go to renault for some good old teammate fun!


It looks like Mclaren need another spell in the anonymity of the mid-field to allow the 24 hours it takes for the formula 1 world to forget about the past. Obviously Hamilton would not really want to join them there.

I'm not sure I agree with James that Brawn is an option, after all they have themselves a committed and competent world champion in the making and Hamilton has a bit of a track record of providing the sort of team mate competition that rocks the boat.

So where else, obviously not Red Bull for the same reason, nor Williams (plus they don't like to pay too much either). The only real option I see is Toyota. Though they have two very good drivers (one of whom is potentially a real star for the future), neither driver really has the star appeal that keeps their names on everyone's lips.


There's a sense here that this one situation really is make-or-break for McLaren.

I'm afraid Max has got them exactly where he wants them. For all the FOTA politics, RD, Mansour and Nobby will have no choice but to pick up the phone and be told what to do.

Being the pariahs of the pitlane for a year is their only option.

Stuttgart will be spectacularly unimpressed. Again...


The 2010 championship. Jenson Button, WDC 2009 driving the number 1 car and Lewis Hamilton the number 2... What a thought! And it would fit - if Virgin are taking up more sponsorship, then two British drivers in the team would be no hindrance.

Oh and James... come back to the commentary. Leggard was useless - again...


your articles have been insightful and decent so far,

but this is subpar at best, it is based on false tabloid speculation.

how in the world would Lewis turn to Max, Max mosley lol as the first person for advice


They should stay with Mclaren during the bad days as much as when the car was the best of the field last year. Hopefuly Kimi will stay with Ferrari for longer and with Alonso they will be strongest driver pair ever in F1. Lewis should be loyal to his team and to his own words. The easiest thing to do is to leave the team the first time they have less chance for the world titel. The season is still very long.

Jonathan Schutte

Very interesting comments James.

But can I ask a related question - can Brawn afford Hamilton? Yes, the €30 million budget cap could be installed, but it won't be compulsory (according to the FIA).

If Brawn go with that option, then they are forced to stick to it (including salaries). Hamilton is earning big bucks at the moment, so that kind of salary would eat heavily into the budget... Teams like Ferrari may choose to forgo the budget (and hence the technical development) and pay big bucks to get the best drivers...

What are the drivers saying about the budget caps (and, by default, the inevitable salary caps)?


Bring back Ron Dennis. Please!


does Alonso really have an agreement to join Ferrari? I always thought that was just a rumour

Marek Górnikowski

I think it rises a question for insider like you - question about Brawn's personality. Engaging WDC like Hamilton is of course valuable asset, but now Brawn (assuming succesful campaign) is able to create champion, due to power of his engineering and management skills. While most will agree that Jenson is a very good driver, for everybody should be clear that if he will become WDC, it will be because fantastic performance of his car.
Assuming Brawn will hire Lewis and repeat the success next year with him - it won't be as clear, will all the hype about Lewis as a fantastic driver. This will clearly put Brawn's team behind. Some bosses may not care, as long as they finally winning. But for some of them it may be not comfortable - to move to second row, possibly. So the question is whether Brawn will prefer to create champions or to work with already established ones, which may be not as much rewarding?


Doesn't Lewis have a contract with McLaren until 2010?

Ferrari won't have him as they've got Alonso ready to go, who IMO is the best driver in F1 by some distance. There is little point moving to any other team, even with budget caps coming in as you can bet that McLaren and Ferrari will have the cars to beat next season.

If he wants to repair the damage to his image he's got to win races. I guess the problem for him now is that he's only got the 5th best car on the grid. The likes of Alonso and Schumacher picked up wins in that kind of car, can Hamilton? Can he prove himself? As all he's proven so far is that like Jacques Villenueve (who I'm sure many would admit wasn't a great driver) if he's given the best car on the grid (100x more reliable than 07 & 08 Ferrari and about as fast) he can win the WDC. That's a pretty tall order in F1, so this season promises to be awesome, at last we get to see if Hamilton is as good as people suggest, or if he's simply better than Heikki.

One thing is for certain, I can't see Hamilton taking a huge pay cut like Jenson has, so Brawn is off the list of potential teams IMO. Plus They'll surely have Senna next season which is probably worth more in sponsorship than the rest of the grid in total.

Lewis will stay at McLaren unless he's very stupid.


I think the most likely place for him to go was Renault, after all they could be losing Alonso soon and will need a big name to fill the void. I can't see him going to Brawn as they couldn't pay his wages so it wouldn't be worth his while unless he was heavily topped up by sponsors.

On that point what happens if this budget cap comes in? Is the drivers wages included in the cap?


Ferrari have Kimi the fastest, Alonso the most complete driver and potentially Kubica who hardly makes any mistake. So, why would they need Hamilton? Also, I think Ferrari have an eye on Vettel, too. Brawn is a risky decision and they can win with Button apparently. BMW is the team where the brand is far more important than a corporate- build "star" driver. TOYOTA???


Why would Brawn need Hamilton when they have a better driver in Button !!

Also Im sure Schumacher crashed into Damon Hill of his own choosing in 1994 (so not all the teams fault) he's also had a few dodgy moments for Ferrari. My point is that sometimes drivers are embroiled in controversy all ther career where ever they go.


Hamilton to Brawn?

An intriguing idea, and less far fetched than it might at first seem. After all, it is not impossible that Mercedes could now leave McLaren too.

What a prospect; Hamilton and Button in a Brawn with Mercedes backing.

Where would this leave McLaren? At best, they would be back to an era like the Peugeot powered post-Honda/Senna days. They recovered from there in style.

But if Hamilton & co did leave it would be almost impossible to find big sponsors and partners. In which case, irony of ironies, we might find Ron Dennis supporting the £30 million budget cap!


I think it’s a huge stretch to equate the Lewis Hamilton/McLaren situation 2009 to Michael Schumacher/ Benetton circa 1994/5. Last time I looked Lewis hasn’t driven into anyone to clinch a Championship and McLaren indiscretions aren’t related to gaining an illegal performance advantage on the track.

And let’s not forget just what caused the FIA to create this over-the-top judicial someone-has-got-to-be-guilty-of-something regime. A recently retired seven times Champion.

I’m not excusing McLaren, they screwed up. But compared to many other shenanigans that go on constantly this is very small beer.

But the press has column inches to fill and Lewis is an easy story. Hopefully some balance will eventually prevail.

Phillis Van Sanders

This is Hamilton's time to show his true colours. He is constantly talking about how good his team is and how they've given him the chance to fulfil his dreams and deliver him the f1 world championship. Now it is time to give something back, Mclaren are facing dire straights over the next few months and now is the time for them to pull together, if LH is now thinking of leaving then it just goes to show that the team isn't that important to him.

Ashutosh Karkhanis

Hmmmmmm Interesting. I wonder why Mclaren are again and again shooting themselves in the foot. Also of note, that it began after Lewis joined them.
Is it that they are so committed to him, that they cant see anything beyond him ??(alonso, honesty)
I do beleive that Lewis timed and managed his statement in Malaysia very nicely, so that he got the "Honest Good Guy" Image, and Mclaren again got caught out with both their feet up, pants down and a smoking gun in both hands
Lewis has turned out to be a smart chap, politically correct, who can always fire with a gun thats in someone else's hand.
Do accept that he is an amazing talent, a need of F1, and a Champion who will enthrall us with his drives for many years to come.
In Which-All teams remains to be seen...........


I think I's expect to see demons throwing snowballs before Hamilton took a punt on Brawn. Interesting point for discussion though. Perhaps a big salary position at Toyota might suit him?


It is a clearly a massive decision that Lewis and his advisers are facing.

On the one hand McLaren have invested so much in Lewis that he must have mountains of loyalty.

On the other, as you rightly point out, they have lsot much of their integrity and Lewis' only option may well be to leave the team.

I'm gutted. We should be focusing on a tremendous season of racing. The new rules, with a bit of help from the weather, have made this year truly exciting.

Money - the root of all evil in F1 - discuss...


I think a divorce would be good for Hamilton, Macca and the sport. Teams have always pushed the boundaries in terms of the rules and how they are interpreted, but I think that in the last few years, Hamilton has been a pivotal part of the problems that Macca have faced.

Macca have become obsessed with getting Hamilton into the limelight and then keeping him there. Their focus on him (and their willingness to ignore, insult and alienate Alonso) in 2007 was bizarre. Their actions in Hungary 2007 in supporting Hamilton and getting Alonso a grid penalty were just part and parcel of their willingness to compromise themselves, the sport, and one of their own drivers just to satiate Hamilton's demands. We saw in Oz that the team (including Hamilton) were happy to cheat Trulli/Toyota, and there is no doubt at all that the team did the same to Alonso in Hungary in 2007 (and in their "support" of him through the whole of that season).

I notice you say there is no *evidence* that Hamilton knew about the Ferrari data .... which is not the same as saying that Hamilton did not know about the Ferrari data. To think that the golden son was out of the loop calls for a giant leap of imagination and it similarly stretches reality to think that Davey was the sole plotter in the Oz crisis .... or that Lewis/the team were not willing participants in the WEEK LONG deceit.

As already pointed out, even at Sepang the team was still trying to peddle its Oz deceit. By Sepang, Lewis would have had plenty of time to talk things over with Martin and with his dad .... what does it say of Lewis, Martin, and Anthony Hamilton that over an entire week NONE of them had the sense or honesty to come clean? Is it really believable that in that week Lewis did not discuss the incident with other people (especially his father/Martin)?

Yes, Macca look bad and Lewis and his dad may not be happy .... but from here it looks like the blame has to be equally shared by the team and by the Hamiltons.

We've had a string of lies come out of Macca since 2007 (around the team, Hamilton and Alonso) and I think that it is becoming clearer and clearer that Alonso was fully justified in standing up to the corruption and mismanagement he found at Macca.

You have to ask yourselves this question: if DLR knew about the Ferrari data, why wasn't he suspended/sacked? Why, if Macca were supposed to have integrity, did they get rid of Coughlan (and Alonso), but they saw fit to keep DLR? Answer that question and consider the implications for Hamilton and the team.

Think it would do Hamilton the world of good to move to another team and to get him away from the Macca Mafia. He needs to go somewhere where he will be managed/controlled properly and where the team bosses will have the courage and strength to stand up to him and to do what is right for the sport and not just to make him feel happy.

Mercedes dumping Macca, moving to Brawn and taking Lewis with them would be a good move. Brawn would have the man management skills (and experience) to manage Lewis without pandering to him, and Ross would have the integrity to push the boundaries of the rules but to stay within them.

I think Lewis Hamilton is a driver with a lot of potential who has been spoilt by his relationship with Macca and I would be thrilled for the whole sport to see him move to another team where he could learn to be both a real man and a real sportsman ... and we would at last have the chance to see if he really is a sporting star or just a pampered prima donna who can only cope with things if he gets preferential treatment and the leeway to cheat.


Now you have put the cat amongst the budgies.

Would Brawn want Mr. Hamilton, since he's "damaged goods", and not a proven developer of a car? I suspect Mr. Barrichello can run rings around him in that department.

Like you I'd love to have eaves-dropped into that phone call.

What was discussed? Did Mr. Hamilton senior know about it.


It's going to be fascinating to see how this pans out. Although you rightly say Ferrari might be out of the question because of Alonso's agreement, what about the prospect of them teaming up again together?

Many feel Massa missed his best chance to land the world championship last season and there's a lot more respect between Hamilton and Alonso (remember how Alonso burried the hatchet in Brazil by going out of his way to congratulate Hamilton?).

Whether they'd want to drive together again is a different matter but the Scuderia would take some beating with those two.

Stephen Kellett

Ugh. Much as I wanted Lewis to beat Alonso on his debut year and last year's racing was good, I don't want him at Brawn GP - he has had his share of great cars to drive. Time some others had their time with the good cars at Brawn GP.

And what about the "I'll drive for McLaren for life" stuff that he was uttering only about a year ago?

He was party to the problems he is embroiled in. Leaving McLaren will not leave these problems behind - he is entangled in them.


Of all the drivers in the field, Hamilton has the best leverage in terms of negotiations simply because of the brand appeal and sponsorship money that he would take with him to a new team. The only other driver that can come close is Alonso.

For that reason, I don't think Brawn are out of the question. Commentators keep talking about 'big teams' catching up, but Brawn could very easily become the next big team with the right mix of people and sponsors. They have been given a free pass this year courtesy of Honda, they already have a lucrative deal with Virgin and having Hamilton join the team in an all-British line up would make them an almost flag-carrying team for the nation that is the original home of F1.

There is also the very real possibility that Mercedes could follow Hamilton, as surely they are asking the same questions of McLaren that Hamilton is. With that dream line-up of having a manufacturer, a global brand sponsor, an excellent team and both Hamilton and Button, Brawn would not only be a winning team this year but the next big #1 team in F1.

I also don't imagine Brawn keeping their name beyond this season, either a manufacturer or a big name sponsor will step in and pick the team up. All of this combined with FIA budget massaging means Brawn are the new McLaren.

I am a McLaren fan yet I want to see this happen.


To add to my last comment, I also think Hamilton is under-paid at McLaren, considering that Button was earning more last year and the sort of deals that Alonso and Kimmi are on. Lie-gate would serve as the perfect catalyst for him to exit his 5-year deal and sign on with another team. He deserves to be paid more considering the pressure he is always under and his high profile in the sport.


He [Alonso] has an agreement to join Ferrari in 2011, with an option for 2010 if Raikkonen underperforms this season.

Just to make sure... you're reporting this as fact, right? I know it's a strong rumour but do you have some inside information on it?


I don't have a soft spot for McLaren. Yet I find myself concerned for Whitmarsh. He seems a more straight talking and open communicator than Mr Dennis (well, I suppose you could say that about anyone). For him to be embroiled in this smelly pot of poo at the very start of his helmsmanship is embarassing and pitiful. I'd like to think he'll keep the role and make amends.

Hamilton's situation is likely generating strong waves of schadenfreude in the F1 paddock right now. Irrespective of his talent, putting him in the best car for the first two seasons of his F1 career was never likely to make him popular. A precocious talent combined with getting the best car immediately didn't enamour him to many and this episode may well be seen as some form of payback for that.

McLaren treated Alonso badly in my view, clearly favoring Hamilton and losing the 2007 championship because of it. Something from that period still lingers within McLaren; they just can't help walking a tightrope it seems.

Hamilton should stay at McLaren, take his medicine, keep his yap shut for a while and help reform the team. If he swans off elsewhere, seeking an easier time of it, it won't do him any favours. He lied and he's responsible for that. Stirling Moss is correct when he says he will have to carry that for the rest of his career.


I still think it would be a big wrench for Hamilton to leave Mclaren. I dont see it yet. this saga will made Lewis think about his future and the team, but I think the ties are too strong. Mclaren can still recover - probably for next season now, but their position now is not necessarily where they will be next season. If Mclaren had the strongest car, would Lewis even consider moving? Of course not. he can blame it on the lies he was told to tell but really its all down the competitiveness of the car and lewis is a winner and unquestionably one of the fastest drivers in F1.


Hamilton should definitely stay. Stamp his authority right now especially when McLaren is in need of a restructure/shaping up to eradicate anymore negative DNA traits.

Even with a £30 (or £150) million budget cap, I don't see how smaller outfits like Brawn will be able to keep up with the likes of McLaren and Ferrari for as long as they have the big financial support as they have today. The accounting brains behind these giant teams will just find ways or loopholes to exploit for them to gain more development edge over the smaller teams.

By the way James, if you'll be in need of mobile Internet connectivity while in Singapore to cover the race, I can easily hook you up! Although free Wi-Fi is almost everywhere in Singapore city, but there are still blind spots around. Just e-mail me 🙂

Your Twitter and rapid blog updates is really helping us keep in touch with the scenes at the paddock. Would love to ensure you stay online for as long as you can to keep us all updated 🙂


Very nice blog James, Thanks

As a McLaren Fan, I am so disappointed with the recent events. I personally never thought things like that could happen from a team that puts itself and its integrity above anything else.
I will be honest and say that I would be very happy if Hamilton leaves. I might be wrong, but it feels like the team is so determined to make Lewis a successful driver that it is putting him the team's priority.
I am not a fan of Hamilton. He is a great driver, not as good as Alonso possibly, but he reminds me a lot of Schumacher, and I wasn't a fan either. The difference is that Schumacher was a much better driver.

I would rather Hamilton leaves, for the same reasons I was happy Alonso left. This kind of drivers require the team to work for their cause. Mika Hakkinen was different. He was part of the team, And for that reason they managed to be so successful together.

Hope things change, for the better of the sport.


Intersting article.

Lest we forget that Ross Brawn was a key player in the Benetton team during the Schumi years. At the time both team and driver had their fair share of controversy.

Despite moving to Ferrari (at Michael's behest) and enduring further criticism levelled at both team and driver (as well as unprecedented success), Ross has emerged with an untarnished reputation.

In my belief (that of a humble armchair enthusiast) he has emerged as the most complete team manager in the paddock.

Lewis would do well to hook up with BrawnGP. Ross has a proven track record of providing the right environment for a star driver.

Problem is there's already a Brit in the team doing rather well!


James, throughout your years of writing and broadcasting it has become clear you have always hated McLaren.

You must be loving all this and aren't missing any opportuinity to stick the knife in.


Surely, this story is more about filling column inches in newspapers with gossip than about revealing the truth.
McLaren have been very loyal to Lewis since he signed with them as a schoolboy, they are entitled to expect plenty of loyalty in return. And as you say, he doesn't have many other good options available to him.

McLaren are going through some very difficult times at the moment, but until 2007 their reputatuion was rock solid and they can get back to that position (hopefully).

I really enjoy your blog James and I love the little one-liners you sneek in such as... 'Brawn have the fastest car, but that is because they bought themselves a big headstart by not showing up last season.'


Hamilton is guilty in this whole affair, whether coerced or not. If he leaves the team or even wants to, so soon after telling the world that he doesn't want to ever drive for another team, then this Hamilton supporter will become an ex-Hamilton supporter. What ever happened to loyalty through the good times and bad? He has the chance now to show the world what he is made of and how good he is by sticking with it and bringing McLaren back to the front of the grid. Otherwise it will be Go Jenson! 🙂


Ah, McLaren are lucky: spygate, liegate, tiregate 😛

I am not Lewis fan and I never liked McLaren (and im not from UK), but I think he will destroy his reputation completely if he'll leave the team. Why he should leave? Because of difficult times? He should live through it with the team - it will make him stronger and wiser when its all over.


Looking at the laser targeted approach the Hamiltons have used to achieve their goals, one wonders if the current F1 teams are not good enough for their ambition, that they will simply set their sights on setting up and running a team.
Anthony is probably bored as he is so used to working two jobs and all hours etc etc and he is obviously a hugely focussed and ambitious man.
Now Lewis has fulfilled his destiny and became WDC, the current climate and setup could hold him back from Shoemakers records for the next couple of years, so why not do (Bruce) Mclaren?


Looks like this issue is going to roll on for a while yet. I am not defending either Mclaren or Hamilton but the FIA need to get their act straight.

The BBC coverage had DC indicating the Vettle/Kubica collision was nearly identical to a collision he had the previous year but with a completely different penalty result. Transparent? hmm think not. EJ made a comment about stewards being people used to making legal decisions etc, if I had more time this morning, I'd try to research them but i'm sure people here know more about their qualifications or relevence.

However, it is my understanding that a stewards decision may be appealed in what would be deemed a legal court with the ability to overturn decisions or impose further sanctions. If so why on earth are they making decisions without reviewing the available evidence. ie radio transmissions, telemetry etc To make matters worse there is no transcript of susbsequent meetings. This makes any evidence given by interested parties at a court of appeal no more than heresay. Asking for cockups? Definately.

Also is it not on record that Anthony Hamilton has stated Lewis did NOT speak to Max Mosely? I'm afraid all this media hype and false reporting will do nothing other than to fan the fires and prolong the agony for all involved and screw it up for the fans. And really, this is small fry compared to the many lies I've witnessed in F1 in over 30 years of watching

Yes McLaren screwed up, how involved was hamilton? who knows, no transcript. But it seems more of a serious error of judgement that got out of hand straight after a grueling race. I know I have been placed in positions of comprimise by employers and have had major rows over what I consider downright lying to clients only to be told "put up or shut up" and "check your contract" Right or wrong? All I know is sometimes I have had to compromise myself rather than being shown the door, and I do have a mortgage and family to support. I am sure many others face similar very ackward dilemmas in life, and we don't have the millions to walk away from it!

As an old barrister friend once said "We don't lie dear boy, we just omit parts of the truth we don't like" If the FIA sorted its act out, idiotic things like this would not need to happen and the press would need to look elsewhere to peddle their intrusive spurious hype.

For Gods sake F1 and FIA sort yourselves out before F1 becomes a dinosaur whose demise is brought on by the press and internal politics


I believe that the Mclaren management is seriously flawed and has been for some time. It cost Hamilton the championship in 2007 and nearly the same last year, but where can it go from here? Other than being taken over and all the top tier being replaced. I presume they will pay the fine and carry on. I have to say although I am a Hamilton supporter, he lied, and that is not acceptable and he cannot blame any one else. As for him leaving Mclaren, surely he has a contract and realistically there is no other top team available. I still find it unbelievable that Mclaren thought they would get away with a lie that had been recorded and broadcast to the world, that is the level of their stupidity


How is Brawn GP a blue print for a lean, low cost team? Even after the redundencies they will maintain a staff of 430 people.
The car was developed with a staff of 700, a huge manufacturers budget, 4 wind tunnels and CFD facilities that were upgraded as recently as last year.

Low cost? Lean? I don't think so. Sure that may be where they are heading but it remains to be seen if they can remain competitive over the next few years without the resources they had from Honda to develop the current car.


I'd rather see Ant at Brawn as second driver to Jenson any time and I think a lot of people would agree with me on that. He is obviously has a great deal of experience as a development driver, which will be paramount in the future as testing will be limited. He also strikes me as a regular type who doesn't go around lying his head off at the slightest opportunity. On the evidence of the commentary he gave on the Beeb (on the Oz practice) he's intelligent and perceptive.
Why unnecessarily compromise the driver line-up at Brawn by introducing an inflated super ego into the equation? Ross Brawn has referred publicly to the impressively understated way Jenson works, and I believe that could easily be disrupted by the inclusion of somebody who is very much the opposite in the team.
If it ain't broke, why fix it? And on the evidence so far, no way is it broke!


I wonder which of the two Ferrari might prefer? Alonso or Hamilton?

Given the choice, what are the chances of them telling Alonso 'no thanks' before it gets to the point of no return on their agreement?


McLaren are now a team which I no longer support....Ron Dennis is gone...Hamilton is a liar, and arrogant, and so I have moved to Brawn GP! Jenson and Ross Brawn are the men! Also...I think BBC should bring back you James for commentary alongside Mr Brundle. Your other man is no good.


In my opinion, Hamilton would do better to stay put and show his metal by bringing the team around him; after all they have given him everything he has so far.
At the end of the day I believe Hamilton has to be his own person, and should be the one manipulating the team around him, not the other way around.

I believe it would damage Hamilton in many ways if he just went seeking a competitive drive. This point well backed up with Alonso’s situation, the man has really show his class going back to Renault, it shows real guts, and shows there is a lot more to this sport than just wanting to dominate every season no matter the cost.

For much the same reason, Button has stuck to his guns.
After his move to Williams went sour, (making him look foolish in the eyes on many), but how sweet must it be for him right now? Button is now well placed in a team he knows well, and one that must have the best team spirits at this time.
A really telling image for me was Ross Brawn walking up and down the start strait with a tyre trolley after the Red flag in Sepang..
I mean what other team principal is out there doing that?! The guy has his feet on the ground, and really is a pleasure to see this in F1.

I distinctly remember last season Button and Hamilton in a press conference, Button said to Hamilton something to the effect of, “If I had a better car, I’ll show you what I can do” you can’t deny there is some freaky karma going on there!

You made your bed Lewis, now man up and sleep in it!


The media is the best tool for spreading rumours and stirring up trouble. Where did this news about Lewis and Max come from? You're a PR man, James. This whole episode is great for Max, and you're just giving him the column inches he thrives on. A bit more cynicism please. It'd do you good, and set you apart from the rest of the tabloid numpties.


For some reason, if he left McLaren i think it would damage him more, he might be seen as jumping ship just because the car isnt up to scratch and then who would hire him?


after reading this page, something has just hit me - doesn't the british media owe fernando alonso a massive apology?


There is an alternative to leaving McLaren, which in my view would be huge mistake, and a further blot on his character.

He's young enough, and would benefit enormously by taking a sabbatical year. It would give him time to reflect, adjust, and mature as a driver, and as a man.

Good idea?


Ha....has this put the cat amonst the pigeons or what?


its open day on mclaren in the media, and anyone who belives all these storys on face value needs a serious reality check. maybe lewis does want to leave...ask him james. Hamilton senior was asked directly if lewis had spoken to mosley, and he said no. So, now hamilton senior is a liar, if we believed the earlier story.
i find it slightly ammusing that the media is being so fundimental on a lie, half truth, mislead...whatever you want to call it.
they couldnt give a stuff if the garbage they write is true or not.


"We win and lose as a team - I want to stay here for the rest of my career - McLaren are the best team," etc etc etc (I could go on, but let's not.)

So, suddenly Lewis and his old man are too good for McLaren. That's a shame for them. As you say, where are they going to go? Who will be good enough for them?

And while we are on the subject, who will want them? Look at the baggage that follows them around. Will BMW want to suddenly become world championship contenders because they have the best car, or because they have the miracle boy driving it?

If they are arrogant enough to threaten to leave F1 (who knows if this is true or not, personally, I doubt it) then fine ... off you go. They obviously haven't clicked that no driver is bigger than the sport. It moves on. When "the star" leaves, it's forgotten by the time the next grid forms up.


If Lewis leaves F1, who would the media have to talk about in F1? Jenson Button is on what looks like a winning streak, so why is'nt he getting all the column inches? The truth is Lewis sells, winning or not. Look at the latest about Lewis wanting to leave McLaren and F1, all over the newspapers, all over the Internet, radio and television, forums up in arms in debate. You couldn't pay for this publicity for F1. Lewis is going nowhere the big bosses will see to that.


This was mentioned once before, but the article states as fact that Alonso is joining Ferrari in 2011, with an option for 2010. Like many others I've seen the rumors for quite some time, but never a definitive announcement such as what's been relayed here. I wonder if the author is spinning his opinion (however well informed it may be) as reality, or has he done what any good journalist would do, verify the fact with sources who have direct knowledge of the situation. I'd love to hear from the writer himself on this point because if he has indeed done his homework, then Ferrari's driver options for the future would not been as open as many think, even though I'd love to see Alonso in red.


touche to that dad...


Hmm. Alonso was a significant part of the scandal. Nobody ordered him to do what he did with the illegal data, as much as he'd like history to be rewritten in his favor. His claims that "McLaren cheat all the time," is an instructive comment coming from someone who participated in a scandal. Keep scrubbing Fernie, it's not coming-off.

Right now, McLaren are the FIA's whipping boy. They have no margin with the organizing body, or Max Mosely. Whereas other teams would get a slap on the wrist and a fine, McLaren are thrown-against a wall to face a firing squad. In this case, after mea culpas, humiliation, damage to reputation, a sacked team official, the number one driver threatening to leave as well as the team's horrible performance on the track, the FIA have decided to pile-on and exact a full pound-of-flesh from the team. Like with the "Merchant of Venice", however, I wonder if taking such a decision won't create some unexpected blowback...


Time for BrawnGP to secure the services of Michael Schumacher.

I see his contract as an adviser to Ferrari may not be renewed. Maybe Ross is chatting to him already, and Mr. Branson is standing by with a blank cheque.

Let's face it with all the twists and turns we've had in the first 2 races alone this is not beyond the realms of possibility!


Isn't this all pure speculation? I don't think there are any substantiated reports about Lewis leaving McLaren.


I like the idea of Lewis at Brawn GP. I would however question when Lewis would be moving should he decide to do so. Is this an idea for the end of this season, or could we see something develop in the next few races? What is the contract situation etc?

This reminds me of the book Lewis wrote after his first season in F1. I was never really a fan of his until I read his book. He always gave the impression that the big bucks weren't of concern to him. It seemed to me that he wanted to race for McLaren because it was something to aspire to. He's achieved that, won a world title along the way, but all the drama surrounding his life at McLaren must become frustrating.

As for where he'd go, I'd imagine a British team would be top of his list. Possible swap of Nico Rosberg to McLaren and Lewis to Williams? You heard it here first!


I'm not so sure a move to BrawnGP would be the best thing for him to do. I agree, they are on fire right now, but who's to say the budgets and facilities of the bigger teams such as Ferrari, McLaren, Renault etc won't allow them to catch up, and pass BrawnGP once the championship moves back into Europe?


It seems to be this whole mclaren sensation story is a typical case of uk newsmedia to blow things into the absurd.

Sure Mclaren will face some punishment on April 29, possibly getting suspended for some race(s), but I don't see a team like them not finish this year with Hamilton in their ranks.

Given that this is kinda a uk blog I guess it's normal for it to get so much attention but from an international pov mclaren was already was mentioned enough here.

Accidental Mick


"Their focus on him (Hamilton)(and their willingness to ignore, insult and alienate Alonso) in 2007 was bizarre."

Alonso is a top-flight driver but his capacity for self-delusion is unlimited. Alonso is the only person around who thinks that Hamilton got better treatment from Mclaren.


Hamiliton + Mclaren = perfect combination of arrogance and pretense, match made in heaven.

Hammy has said repeatedly the last few months that he wants to stay at Mclaren for his entire career and has no plans to drive elsewhere.

Now...the first ripple in the sheen and (if true) hes considering leaving?? He owes his career to Mclaren. What a trooper.

Alas not surprising given he was more then willing to pass the buck and scapegoat Ryan.

This entire saga is illuminating but its not in fresh light.... It can hardly be surprising given the events of last year....just as James points out.


well most of your comments seem like you ve been chearleading for your man hamilton
i personally feel this would be a disgrace on himself if he leaves the team at this stage
we can clearly see now this guy is an oppurtunist who clearly wants to win each race , when his team cant provide the best machinery, well go for another one..brawn 09 , renault 10 , ferrari
what about the guys like raikonen alonso button
who have come to the sport the hard way worked on difficult cars and showed their performance and class through that

how come one man is bigger than a whole sport
here hamilton has been made equivlent to whole f1 as if he's some god and everything will go according to his own wills and whims

i am certainly sure hamilton himself lied on that incident he was the one who told the thing to stewards and he should be the one facing the punishments coming with his crime

i have no respect for LH now he's the most undeserving wc ever...if he ever were to learn the meaning of sportsman spirit
just look at how felipe behaved in brazil last year
perhaps its time now hamilton grow up a bit


[quote]Brawn GP is important for Mosley because it is a blue print for his vision of the sport; a well engineered, lean team with customer engines. Low-cost, high quality F1[/quote]

Surely Honda/BrawnGP spent big bucks in the past year developing this car, and won't have the same amount next year, so could end up slipping back into the mid-field.

Also not sure Hamilton Sr would be happy with another high profile, quick racer in the same team. Button may actual show Hamilton Jr up.


Wow...huge debate! This is the place for all F1 fans.


If he does indeed leave McLaren over this issue he'll loose a lot of the respect i currently have towards him. He admitted misleading the stewards. so have McLaren. Fair enough, everyone makes mistakes. I feel that this is being blown out of proportion as it happens 9 out of 10 times the stewards ask someone for their view. but if you want everyone to forgive you for your mistakes but you're not going to forgive the "team" for making the same mistake then that sounds a bit cowardice to me.

Paige Michael-Shetley

Here's a scenario I'd like to throw at you:

There's already been buzz that Mercedes would like to take control and full name branding of the team. One would also think that they are quite upset with McLaren's senior leadership over this incident.

How about the possibility of the Hamiltons joining with Haug and other key people from Mercedes to mount a takeover of the team and a house-cleaning of leadership?

Perhaps the new team Lewis is looking for is the one he's already on.


I'm quite ove the use of the '-gate' suffix for anything that is considered a scandal.
Given the whole case is about lies and deception it's kind of a tautology.
I thought 'ligate' referred to some sort of chemical bond


I agree with GG above. If Max is touting Brawn as a good example of a low cost, high quality F1 team he is missing the truth. This is the product of a massive team with a budget ten times his £30million cap.

As for Hamilton, he has to take a large part of the blame for this mess. For a man of integrity to plead that he was only following orders is not good enough. He only had to say, no I will not lie for you or anyone else. That done, he would have come out of this smelling of roses. Instead he now just looks like a liar, plain and simple.

His image is tarnished, but so long as he can still win races, some team will take him. no mistake. F1 is not a place with high moral standards after all, is it Max.


IF this happened -- Hamilton leaving McLaren -- how soon would it be? Let's say McLaren is banned for 3 races after the FIA hearing -- would Lewis use this to get out of his contract and go somewhere else this year? Or are we talking about further down the road?

I'll say that for all the credit Ron Dennis and McLaren get for "creating" Lewis Hamilton, his dad must be pretty savvy and have some big balls to stand in there with Ron Dennis, Max, etc. All credit to him.


Not a Hamilton fan myself but, he was right to follow the team's orders in Melbourne and post-race.

Forget all this stuff about how he should stand up for himself and does what he believes is the right call regardless of what anyone else says or thinks otherwise. If you want to excel in F1, you need to be more than just quick and clever in a car on the track, you need to be quick and clever off the track too. Especially if you want to win championships.

If a driver goes against a team like McLaren, he's all by himself. And it's a very lonely road to take. Fernando Alonso and Alain Prost are perfect examples of what happens when you rock the boat in a team like McLaren, never mind how good their racecraft is because even that didn't save them...well Prost had the last laugh in 1989.

Besides, this lie-gate incident doesn't seem so sinful compared to the times of Senna, Prost, Mansell and Schumacher. In quite some time, nobody's driven into anybody, tried to ram anyone off the track, no fistfights and post-race clashes...I could go on.

When Hamilton said Senna was his idol, I had a bit of a laugh to myself. I'm a big Senna fan myself and I still hold that he's the best F1 driver behind the wheel ever, but that guy was also capable of some pretty nasty things and he wasn't the most refined character with the journalists. I'll leave the rest to you.


"uncompromising approach"? like kubica on vettel you mean? or vettel on kubica? like barrichello on webber melbourne turn 1? right, lewis is the only "uncompromising driver out there..

again this crap about lewis talking to max..if you look closely the news was reported by a tabloid (can't remember the name - that bad the paper until the name is not good enough to be remembered, no wonder they need to resort to sensationalism)..i had the good fortune to be having breakfast with anthony hamilton when that piece of "news" came out and i can tell you that it is not true at all..never believe everything you read in the papers..


No It was Charlie not Max. Charlie has said so.


OHH Some very interesting and insightful thoughts. Adding this to my bookmarks. ^_^


your joking right?

can you say...Schumi? no not Ralf! 🙂


No never heard of such a thing (in F1 drivers that is)
and no, not getting hired for the season doesnt count.;-) .ala Davidson and anyone else.


You know there's grounds for speculation and then there is a whole different category called 'paranoia' and some of the responses here (in general on the blog) really should be on one of those conspiracy sites or something! - some peoples imaginations are just way to overactive...


Massa came within a whisker of taking the title last year, but for a rain shower and the Scuderia's tendency to shoot themselves in the foot at the slightest provocation. That can be readily attributed to Ross Brawn having jumped ship, of course.
There's absolutely no evidence at all that Massa is a spent force. I reckon his small stature gives him a very useful advantage in optomising the car under the current regs. This could also explain why he has competed so effectively against Kimi, the ice (lolly) man.
I never ever expected him to be in the top flight and he certainly proved that he is, last year. Didn't even show himself up against Schumy.
I like the guy, but I wish he'd not copy king Alonso's whining about the opposition all the time and get on with what he does best. I trust hope Court of Appeal will not be swayed by all the whingeing that's going on, and obviously intended to influence its decision.


Ron has just stepped even further away from the building...so...No..


Maybe, but F1 isnt about putting 2 drivers you think are better than each other in the same team car and using that to jusfify which is the better driver, it would just open up another load of excuses about which one is 'really' better.

A class of the field driver are the ones who can 'pick up the car and run with it' to use a well known commentators phrase...its about a good driver performing in a 'bad' car under pressure like Schumi or Alonso, Hamilton is showing glimmers of these qualities now McL are strugglin, but I wouldnt put him near the class of the other 2 just yet, lets wait and see how he handles rest of season and maybe next year too.


Brawn dont need Hamilton, they already have a No1 driver in Button.
I dont think Hamilton would be prepard to be Brawns second driver!
Hamilton going to Brawn would ruin it for Jenson and Brawn.


phil you forget about Williams!

They won with Mansell, then hired Prost, won with Prost then hired Senna. Senna as we all know tragically lost his life at that year... So the hired Hill, won with Hill and then hired Villeneuve, won with him, but then Renault withdrew and their run came to an end and Villeneuve moved to BAR.

That was 5 world champions including Senna...

Tell me your McLaren theory again?


Whoa, can't let you get away with that Phil, Alonso was a major willing player in the use of stolen Ferrari data as was de la Rosa.
If you say that Ron should have allowed Alonso to blackmail him and the team, and they should have carried on with Alonso as preferred driver, then all is lost and you contribute to the moral decline which now characterises the UK. They may have won the championship as you say but the cheating would have been leaked by Alonso later for some personal gain. Then the FIA would have chucked them out anyway.

Either you believe that they are rotten to the core and all of them will cheat given the opportunity or like me you believe that most are decent people and that Dave's paranoia (seemingly justified paranoia) became overwhelming to the extent that reason was abandoned, he lied and told Lewis to follow. Had Lewis refused he would have looked somewhat better in our eyes now but the team would have lost faith in him as a player. Don't forget that Lewis has had a Jackie Stewart type upbringing and tutoring by Ron that has bound him into the team psyche, the team becoming his additional parent or guardian.

True Kimi cannot suffer the lean years in silence and has little patience with a team struggling to get the car to a competitive state, no one will be surprised if he tells Ferrari he is leaving.

But Hamilton will be talked to by Uncle Ron and he will stay, McLaren is his home!


JA writes: Good point, Phil. Thanks for that.


Mclaren are the only team that can lose world champion drivers consistently.

They lost Kimi due to poor cars, upset Alonso, which in hindsight if they listen to him he or lewis would have been a champion in 07, 08 and no doubt have a more competive car in 09. And pissed lewis off enough that is more then likley he will leave too. Mclaren are silly enough to put themselves in this situation they will suffer the consequences. It is like they forget poeple have emotions and are not all are rocks like emotionless Ron Dennis.

Lewis will leave at the end of the year if a position opens up. My bet is BMW. Brawn whilst good, doesnt have the $$$ unless Branson dips in an additional 15 od mill a year for lewis fund


wow! firstly I had no idea that the hamiltons felt that way in 2007 ect, and secondly that it was openly discussed by them, and even quiting F1 together (I must have been on hols or something! -summer)

As for schumacher quitting Benetton to escape allegations of cheating? dont make me laugh! Cough Villeneuve (Jerez), Monaco stoppage in Quali, the infamous list goes on.......

whats wrong with Alonso and Hamilton in the same team in 2010?
they would both have equal rights (both world champions), no politics of the Golden boy needing protecting from his nurturers anymore (different team with no vested interest).
I think the chemistry and dynamics of the pair of them back on the same (differnet) team would make for great racing and competition.

Personally I think McLaren need booting out of F1, just look at all the scandals in the last few years they are making a mockery of the 'sport' and turning it into a business more and more...that said Ferrari aren't much better...which came first though (I think the life has slowly been drained out of F1 since schuey went to Ferrari, and rediculous salaries and sponsorhip/merchandise were introduced.
Im just waitin to hear "and make sure y'all have a nice day" when drivers stop speaking at the end of press conferences! - it's all become so 'fake' in F1. Snap out of it people (PR) its all about the racing!, the brandings on the Cars and uniforms, thats enough sponsorship coverage! - you dont hear Ronaldo thanking his sponsors when he's being interviewed after a match do you? - make F1 the same, its really lame!


Would Hamilton "fit" with Brawn if Virgin remain a major sponsor? A couple of years ago, Virgin Atlantic 'fessed up to a price fixing cartel with British Airways and went for immunity from prosecution and shopping BA when faced with the evidence.

This is maybe what the stewards were doing at the second hearing in Sepang, giving Hamilton "more than one opportunity" to put the record straight.


JA writes: Jonathan, no team can afford to go the route of not taking the £30m budget cap. They would be completely uncompetitive. As for paying drivers these things are tbc, as is the final figure. The fact that Brawn is downsizing to around 450 people indicates that they think the final budget cap figure could be more like £50-60mill.


Hi, Ray, it didn't occur to me until later in the Barcelona week to put a couple of bob on Jenson, so I probably missed out on some fantastic odds. The bookies were spectactularly slow off the mark on that one. In fact Barcelona Monday should have been enough to start a mad stampede to the bookmakers. Wish I'd punted more now.
Despite that I still think the outcome of the season is completely unpredictable, although Braun are obviously the class of the field currently. And that's without even considering the possibility of a totally insane decision on 14th April; the seven are now going for the maximum political pressure they can muster. I cannot believe that with the huge resources the manufacturers have, they won't haul Brawn in gradually. And there are a lot of other good people around, even if they did miss a trick on the diffuser, which is only worth 0.2 sec itself apparently.
What I'm wondering is this: what engine are Brawn designing their 2010 car around?


Fair play Martin - we'll agree to disagree!

BTW, if by 'we will have to differ on our assessment of Jenson’s standing and it won’t be apparent until later this year who’s nearer the mark' you think I don't think he'd be a worthy champ, or will be champ, then you misunderstand me.

He absolutely would be, as every WDC apart from Piquet has been pretty much. And I'll have a nice sum coming my way from a high odds bet.

It's just this championship will be achieved under easier circumstances than Hamilton's first or Alonso's second one (his first was equally due to Kimi's bad luck). They've proved they can win under fiercer competition. Jenson only has his team mate and maybe Vettel (in a slightly inferior car) to deal with - i might be wrong but....

...I already think this year is a write off for Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and probably BMW too unless something drastic happens with the diffuser situation (which i hope it doesn't as the Brawn is legal and its just sour grapes), and that's where the best drivers currently are.


Ray, we will have to differ on our assessment of Jenson's standing and it won't be apparent until later this year who's nearer the mark. However I think the signs are that Ross Brawn inclines more to my view than yours! He likes his style and he apparently muses that he ought to have taken him on at the Scuderia. I'd tend to go with his judgement I think. And Williams' as well. for that matter.
I don't know why but Renault was not a happy hunting ground for him, maybe the car didn't suit him, or he had a personality clash with the boss man. I think his appearance of being laid-back may have counted against him.


2004 was a superb year for Jenson - agreed. But he had a great car that year - the BAR was the next best thing to the Ferrari for sure. The Renault was good, but not that good. Alonso destroyed Fisi in the same machinery, and Fisi comfortably beat Jenson (OK not totally fair, but he could have done better). Button has never comprehensively outclassed his team mate apart from Sato, who was brilliant fun, but hardly a quality driver.

I'm no Hamilton fan as a person, but him, Alonso and Kubica are the class of the field. Vettel and Kimi are as talented - if not more so, but those three are the most competitive and determined. Stick any of them in the Brawn too, and they'd be champ.


Jenson is muh main man. An ace. He blew world champion JV away at BAR, making him eat turd, metaphorically speaking, in his own very gentlemanly way. That was after JV tried to put him down with some comments that were completely uncalled for. I think that, given equal machinery, he would easily do the same to the champion liar, but that is the crucial proviso (equal machinery).
I am afraid that the inclusion of H in the Brawn team could be hugely disruptive. Does anyone really suppose that the dynamic duo would be prepared for long to put up with equal treatment with Jenson if they were installed at Brawn GP? It would be like McLaren 2007 all over again until they got what they wanted. They cost McLaren a driver's title in 2007 because they couldn't countenance Alonso winning a third title there, which he still very nearly managed to do in spite of their best efforts. Perish the thought that they might do the same at Braun.
H is sitting pretty at McLaren, he's got a team-mate who makes him look good, a huge budget to throw at the car to put it back in front, the laughable nonsense about the drivers getting equal treatment has been quietly forgotten, and far more dosh than Jenson is getting now is rolling in. The talk of leaving is no more than a smoke screen to keep the team in line behind him and it also distracts attention from the recent tawdry shenanigans there.


Ray take a look at the 2004 season for a nice comparison between Alonso and Button, as their cars were really evenly matched that season. I'd say Button proved his skill and talent that year, just as Hamilton did in 07 against Alonso. I've no idea who the better driver is, but by the end of this season (with roles reversed somewhat) it may be easier to make a judgement.


pretty much matched him? i think you'll find he beat him


Yes Peter Freeman, I have to confess, yes I do have an extremely warped sense of fair play, at least by today's standards, because I am an anachronism. There, the truth is out.
My old fashioned, warped, sense of honesty and fair play means I am not impressed by:
People who lie through their teeth.
People who lie through their teeth and thereby gain an advantage over their opponents.
People who lie through their teeth and consequently make their opponents look like liars (until they're found out).
People, who having lied through their teeth, don't come clean and admit their lies (until they are found out).
Cry babies who blame others for their lies.
Pathetic creeps who seek to ditch a team that has incredibly generously nurtured them for years, at the cost of millions, as soon as the going gets rough (or they haven't got the fastest car out there).
Drivers who cheat by missing out corners.
I assume that the above is a fair summary of your idea of having a warped sense of honesty and fair play, if it is then: guilty as charged.
But I do hope that you will take the opportunity of publicly correcting me, point by point, if I've misunderstood what you wrote.


MartinWR if having a paid business associate of you team disqualify your opposition and let you off for your own offenses is not cheating then I just don't know what is... you have a very strange sense of honesty and fair play.


I'm not sure whether Peter Freeman actually ever noticed that Massa wasn't one of those employing DIY circuit redesign technique when it came to negotiating corners on the race track. Well maybe he might have won more races if he had, and he could certainly have overtaken more cars, but on the other hand he might have been found out as well. Like other people. Or maybe he simply isn't one of nature's cheats.


Massa only came within a whisker of winning due to a massive dose of help from the stewards!

The presence of Allan Donnelly in the stewards box (a man who's PR company Ferrari employed and may well still be employing) is the single most dishonest occurrence in F1 history, and it is still ongoing!

On the final note, which court of appeal are you referring to? The one convening over the diffuser issue?


Given that at the moment at least the McLaren seem to have the 8th best car on the grid (behind the Brawn, BMW Toyota, Williams, Red Bull, Ferrari and Renault) it's a much steeper hill for Hamilton to climb than you (Paul) make out. Frankly if he does pull out a win this year it'll be a huge achievement both for him and the team going by where they are right now.


Surely as Lewis has also lied that get out clause is null and void, and having Lewis's laywers argue with McLarens is hardly great PR.

Ok maybe not 5th best car... 4th though, in the 1996 season that Ferrari of his won 3 races, the Williams, Benetton and McLaren were all superior. Thus a run of the mill F1 driver in Eddie Irvine finished behind all of the 6 drivers at those teams, and two other drivers for good measure. Alonso's car likewise was no better than the 4th best on the grid last year when he won a couple of races. The McLaren, Ferrari and BMW having the legs on it pretty much all season long.

I don't think Senna's anger at missing out would play a part in getting hired.


Alonso is not the angel you portray. His behaviour at Renault first time round was pretty shabby with his paranoid public outbursts against the team accusing them of favouring his team mate (and a bunch of other stuff that if you take out the word "Renault" and replace it with the word "McLaren" sounds eerily familiar).

Paige Michael-Shetley

"Macca have become obsessed with getting Hamilton into the limelight and then keeping him there. Their focus on him (and their willingness to ignore, insult and alienate Alonso) in 2007 was bizarre. Their actions in Hungary 2007 in supporting Hamilton and getting Alonso a grid penalty were just part and parcel of their willingness to compromise themselves, the sport, and one of their own drivers just to satiate Hamilton’s demands. We saw in Oz that the team (including Hamilton) were happy to cheat Trulli/Toyota, and there is no doubt at all that the team did the same to Alonso in Hungary in 2007 (and in their “support” of him through the whole of that season)."

What the hell are you talking about, dude?

McLaren fully sided with Alonso when they went before the stewards after the qualifying incident in Hungary. They went so far as to directly blame Hamilton in saying that he disobeyed team orders to let Alonso through, putting their pit strategy off-sequence. You obviously haven't read the FIA's report on the matter.


Alonso got what he deserved for the incident. He clearly held up Hamilton purposefully to compromise his grid position for the race.


Fin no need to write an essay please, I can, and I will understand if you're not an Hamilton fan as pretty much every one on this Blog.

Hamilton should go where he pleases, and if you lot are not happy, please feel free to have you own children, then guide them through the pitfalls of life until they get to formula one and become world champion.

But I guess you won't because your children are too busy watching Big Brother, and Star Academy.


I agree. Now is the time for Lewis to step up and show driver leadership to keep the team focussed on the things that really matter - performance on the track. If there was any time to emulate Schumacher and the relationship he built with his Ferrari team, now is the time. He knows everyone at McLaren and has a team-mate on the back foot, now is the time to cherry pick his crew, ignore the media, leave the Ron-speak to Ron, and get on with the job.


Couldn't agree more with this.
The mark of a great driver is the ability to stick it out in a bad car and still give 100%; Button '08 and '07, Schumacher '96 and '05, Alonso '08 and '09.
If he just walks away now when things aren't going all that well, what does that say about his commitment and ability?
He needs to consider what the team did for him and how much they need him right now.


Alonso would never tolerate Hamilton on the same team on an equal footing. He's not a team player. His behaviour at Renault in 2006 and McLaren in 2007 set the scene for his departure. His behaviour has been a lot better since returning to Renault - I don't recall a single paranoid attack on the team this time around. However, given a top rank team mate like Hamilton or Kimi I can see that personality trait re-emerging. It would be interesting to see how he and Massa get on - his first job will be to break Massa's confidence.


I agree, not enough is being said about the Brawn being the result of Honda spending big last year on this years car. I'd like to see it continue to be a front running team, of which part of me thinks they will with Brawn at the helm, but then they just don't have the budget they had last year!

I also agree that Hamilton need to stand up and be counted with regards to this, and shouldn't just get away with it.


Totally agree that Renault is the best option. They can win again...


Could'nt agree more


Okay Thierry no need to get rude just cause someone is obviously more insightfull than yourself.

Paige Michael-Shetley

In what sense were either the McLaren or the Benetton of 1996 "better" than the Ferrari? Ferrari beat both in the Constructors title that year, and they royally owned McLaren in it. Neither Benetton nor McLaren even won a GP that season. Schumacher dominated both teams in the race results and in qualifying performances when he didn't have a retirement or a technical problem. Eddie Irvine wasn't spectacular in the drivers standings, but then again Irvine wasn't really a spectacular driver.

With all due respect, the claim that Ferrari was the 4th best car in 1996 is absolutely bogus and baseless. It was clearly the 2nd best car, and Schumacher was usually competitive with the Williams drivers.

The Renault was at least the 3rd best car on the grid by the time Alonso started winning races last year. With strategy calls working out and stronger competitors ahead, there was every bit of a reason to suspect the Renault could win races late last season. And both scenarios played out in Singapore and Fuji, the two GPs Alonso won last season. Yes, he was great in those races, but he DID have a strong car, and he DID have luck go his way.

Alonso performances throughout the season until Singapore basically amount to exactly what Lewis has done so far this season: be on the border of getting into Q3 in qualifying, get some spots with great starts, drive the absolute max out of the car to keep within a certain distance of superior and more lightly-fueled cars, and then gain time and positions through the pit cycles to position yourself for a points finish. Lewis's start to this season is virtually identical to Alonso's start to last season: get yourself into 4th spot with great driving and luck at Oz, and then come away with a point after great driving at Malaysia. The only difference is Hamilton's incident with the stewards. So if your criteria for Hamilton to show that he is a great talent is to do what Alonso did last year in an underperforming car, then Hamilton is off to a pretty damned good start.


Sorry to correct a few things Paul...

Lewis does have a contract to 2010, but there is a break clause if McLaren are seen to be doing 'bad' things.

Schumacher and Alonso never won races in the '5th best car on the grid.'

Brawn won't get Senna because he is still pissed about not being hired this year


Driver comparison does not work like that.
Hill beat Villineuve at williams
Villineuve beat Frentzen at williams
Frentzen beat Hill at Jordan.

Strange but true

My guess Button would blow Hamilton out of the water with his consistancy alone.


James (This should be below but there was no reply link)
I understand what you have said but can't agree that the major development required in order to gain an advantage from the loosening of the proposed new tech regs in specific areas can take place with little or no funds.
Given a starting place from this year's cars, whole new areas need to be investigated, only by doing this within this year's uncapped budget could that be achieved.

Free Moveable flaps and movable rear wing assys will need very extensive wind tunnel development work. In particular in control of said aerofoils. (Will automatic regulation of the surfaces be allowed? Servos? )

The extension of KERS to much higher power levels is of course ideal for a "Green" point of view (apart from the chemicals used), but the problems in KERS exposed thus far this season mean that completely new approaches will need to be taken and maybe new technologies involved in battery construction and electro-chemical process. As more electrical energy is is stored, (actually moved not stored) the losses in the form of heat, increase dramatically. (I²R losses mainly) both during charging and discharging.
Huge cooling systems will need to be introduced to cope with the by-product (heat) Ferrari's air cooled system is not sufficient even now. McLarens fluid cooling can cope with the present level of KERS.
Way back when the blog was new, I calculated (guestimated very roughly without any real data) the heat figures and posted them on the blog, I seem to remember a 20C rise for 1 Kg water per second, but I am old and my memory does not work too well, but maybe you could check this with some teams. For KERS to become efficient we need to be using superconductors.
Bigger batteries=smaller fuel tanks.
Only Williams with its flywheel system may be laughing, but then they have different problems, they could increase the spinning mass by changing materials, but I believe that depleted uranium is not allowed in F1. (Did you realise that every time you fly in a Jumbo there is a huge mass of it in the tail of the plane?)
I believe the newly allowed areas of development for capped teams will take substantial funds. I expect some teams to change their minds and stick with the current regs at least for the first year in order to see how the capped teams overcome the extra problems.


JA writes: Rpaco, there is no way a team which doesn't go with the budget cap could be competitive. All teams say this.


Damn it! I had my tenner out and a flight booked! But... super licence, umm... may need a conflab with the stewards over that one. I'm sure they will take my word for it.


One simple reason - money. And Lewis brings it with him in bucket loads.


Come on, be serious. Jenson is a terrific driver, and certainly comes across as a nicer chap, but he's not as good a driver as Hamilton nor anywhere near as competitive - we know that as Hamilton has gone toe to toe with Alonso in the same car and pretty much matched him.


" discussions behind the scenes " ... so its still a rumour .

option for 2010 , that cant happen right ? . He extended a contract originally till 2009 . So that wouldnt have performance clauses i presume

Jonathan Schutte


I think the days of drivers getting paid mega-money (ala M.Schumacher, Raikkonen, Alonso, etc.) will be over as soon as the latest contracts run out (or even sooner as is apparently the case with Alonso this year at Renault, having already agreed to take a cut this year in line with Renault's budget cuts).

I think a figure of €50-60mill is much better sounding than €30mill (and will be far more enticing to the F1 teams and sponsors). At that rate, Brawn already has half their budget secured for the next few years, thanks to their Virgin deal.


JA writes: How on earth do you draw that conclusion, Gordon? There is a difference between 'hating' and being critical when there is something to be critical about. I know the McLaren people very well and get along with them. They would most certainly not agree with you.


@Gordon Scott:
I'm sure Mr. Allen will ignore your inflammatory calumny, so I rebuke you in his stead.

In all my years reading our host's articles I've never detected a trace of hatred of any team, certainly not McLaren. Indeed, I understand he's even been "accused" of being a Lewis fan.

I have no objection to a passionate commentator allowing his personal favourites to surface, to hide them would be unnatural, and we all know who Mr. Allen's favourite driver is. (I believe signed copies of his book are still available...)

But the polemic accusation you make is unfounded, unfair, and untrue.

Now Sir, Mr. Allen has been gracious enough to publish your remarks on his personal blog, are you man enough to apologise for them?


You've got to be joking? Lewis's number 1 fan hating McLaren? Surely not...


JA writes: I think it's pretty clear from discussions behind the scenes that this is what is happening. It won't be a fact until it is announced...


Completely agree. Now Brawn, next year Ferrari or BMW or back to Macca? Kimi would have been 3x champ in an always winning and reliable Mclaren, also Alonso with Renault. Hard times are just part of the game in any sport.


According to the Sporting regs the stewards must be super-licence holders. No mention of the fee is made but presumably it is just slipping Max a tenner.


You forget that the budget cap is to be optional, with extra development allowed in several areas (presumably development with little or no funds) OR if the cap is not accepted then this years rules continue to apply.


Nik Black, you're totally correct in this. Remember way back in the 1980s that Williams was a back of the grid team and with some serious backing became a dominant force in the 1990s. Brawn could be that next big team...


This is possibly one of the funniest letters I have read for a long time. Thank you, MattX, you've made my day!
I wonder, have you ever thought of exploiting your abundant talent for comedic prose. I think you've huge potential in that sphere and should make the most of your obvious gifts. You'll go a long way.
Yes, I do realise it was intended to be tongue in cheek, but it was still really funny anyway. Congrats!


I agree entirely here. Facts are facts and Lewis was complicit in the lies, no matter how it's spun, it's partially of his own making. Additionally having a bad car isn't reason enough to jump ship. He needs to show some loyalty to the team who supported him over a double world champion, because lets face it, Alonso would have sewn up the title with the same sort of support Hamilton got.

I want to see what Hamilton is really made of, and for that he needs a less than brilliant car (which he currently has) and we need to see some races where the front runners cars don't go bang and the safety car doesn't hand out free positions based on little more than pot luck. So far the easiest way to gauge performance has been in Qually, where it's 2-0 to Heikki Kovalainen once you fuel adjust the times. Perhaps Heikki should get a drive at Brawn ? lol!


Personally, I hope he stays.

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