F1 Winter Break
Hamilton and Schumacher the key to 2013 F1 driver market
McLaren Honda
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 May 2012   |  4:22 pm GMT  |  202 comments

The F1 driver market is starting to move for next season as drivers who are out of contract at the end of the year review their options and start discussions.

Unlike football, where there are rules about players being “tapped up” by rival teams without their team’s permission, as well as defined transfer windows, F1 drivers and their agents talk quite a bit and stay in touch with other teams. This constant ebb and flow leads to rumours of driver moves, which turn out to be wrong.

The key to the 2013 driver market is whether Michael Schumacher retires at the end of the year and whether Lewis Hamilton decides to try his luck away from McLaren.

Schumacher has had a tough comeback, but his pole in Monaco will have renewed his confidence and he may be on for a big result in Montreal. He’s outstanding there, having won the race seven times and the track will suit the Mercedes better than any other team, with its double DRS and good traction out of slow corners. It’s like Monaco with straights, so Schumacher should get at least a podium. Whether one strong result would encourage him to leave the sport for good or to continue, only he knows. But he will be 44 in January and time waits for no man.

If he quits, there will be a seat at Mercedes, which Hamilton would be prime candidate for. Should Hamilton stay at McLaren or move elsewhere it is felt that Paul Di Resta will get the Mercedes seat, which would create a vacancy at Force India.

Hamilton is the interesting one. He grew up with McLaren, so it would be a wrench to leave, but his vocal criticisms of the team, particularly in Monaco, have alerted observers to the possibility that he may be looking around.

It’s impossible to imagine Ferrari wanting to put him alongside Fernando Alonso. Not because they don’t get on; they do and the respect is clear between them when you see them together off camera. But the Ferrari/ Santander/ Alonso project is clearly defined and requires a driver like Mark Webber or Robert Kubica riding shotgun, not Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull remains a possibility, although Sebastian Vettel and the current management would look at it like Ferrari do. However the team is run by Red Bull in Austria, not the race team management and if HQ thinks that Hamilton would be good for the business and the brand they may push for him to be hired.

McLaren want Hamilton to stay and for its principal partners like Vodafone and GSK Hamilton is certainly a big draw. But McLaren is no longer manufacturer-backed and infinitely resourced. It depends whether Hamilton’s management company XIX, which comes from the entertainment industry and has a different view on value from racing people, push for maximum value from their asset. If it came to a bidding war between McLaren and Mercedes, as XIX would love it to, then who would dig the deepest?

Complicating the picture is the uncertainty over Mercedes’ continued participation in the sport beyond December 31st. At present the terms on offer to them to continue are less favourable than the other teams. That must be resolved first before long term driver contracts are signed.

By getting Jenson Button’s signature on a three year contract, McLaren have covered themselves to a point. But XIX is sure to try to create a market for Hamilton’s services and that’s what a lot of the talk in the papers over the next three months will be about.

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He is going to stay, Hamilton it's trapped in McLaren (not saying is a bad thing), Ferrari an RB already have their star driver and Mercedes is an unknown factor so far, one day they are good and the other not.


Perhaps things are not as clear as everyone's may think, I'll be giggling if actually LW signs to another team instead of Macca or Merc..:) I think he is playing a clever game and leaving everyone guessing...why not Ferrari instead? both Alonso and Lewis know each other very well and above all, they have a great deal of respect and admiration for each other, something that is in short supply these between 2 top drivers..

If a compromise was to be reached within the team and the drivers, I don't see any particular reason why both drivers couldn't could cohabit inside the team,that would be great pairing for the most successful team in F1 history....



Perhaps things are not as clear as everyone’s may think, I’ll be giggling if actually LW signs to another team instead of Macca or Merc..:) I think he is playing a clever game and leaving everyone guessing…why not Ferrari instead? both Alonso and Lewis know each other very well and above all, they have a great deal of respect and admiration for each other, something that is in short supply these days between 2 top drivers..

If a compromise was to be reached within the team and the drivers, I don’t see any particular reason why both drivers couldn't cohabit inside the team,that would be a great pairing for the most successful team in F1 history…


You are all wrong. What is Hamilton after; championships or money?

If he desires more money he could go anywhere the money is better.


Who will say? Schumi? I think he will run one more year to beat Barichello's all time F1 starts record. Then Schumi is out.


Dont feel mercedes are a strong enough option for him, he should stick with McLaren or if possible join Red bull.


Well, I for one hope Lewis stays put, I would say Whitmarsh is key to the driver market. If he doesn't up the collective game and improve the way the team operates as a whole then Lewis will move on.


Agreed. These are my thoughts precisely.


Agreed. These are my thoughts precisely.


I agree. As others have said McLaren look like the only sensible option. But McLaren need to up their game considering they have/had such a strong car this year


This article solidifys my argument that hamiltons management company is bad for him, XIX are clearly exploiting him for his potential money yeild. Hamilton needs a manager who will put him in the best situation to win championships. I'm still unsure whether signing onto mclaren is a good idea though, they have lost him a huge bunch of points this year and hamilton has been driving arguably his best year yet, showing maturity and consistancy. but its easy to see why the frustration may creep in if mclaren continue to fall behind.


While XIX may not be the most 'suitable' firm for an F1 driver, their goal, and any celebrity/athlete they represent, is to obtain maximum dollars. Period. Yes, the championship would be nice, and I'm sure Lewis wants it, but when he's 64 (to quote a Beatles song) he wants a nice, fat, bank account, too. And that is what XIX, or any other firm, will work to provide him.


It would be a lot easier for XIX to make the big dollar for him if he was a multiple World Champion. Another few years without a championship and his ability to command the top wages will slip away.


If you offered Hamilton a choice between another championship and an extra 10 million dollars, I think he'd go for the championship.

When he's 64, he'll want to look back and say "I was one of the all-time greats, I made history," not "Sebastian Vettel might have overshadowed me as a racer but I made more money than him."


I completely disagree.

Lewis Hamilton has already made enough money to last him 5 lifetimes comfortably.

When he is 64, he would much rather be looking back at 3 or 4 world championships than at a bank account with $100 million in it instead of $50 million.

If you talked to any racing driver and asked them if they would give up half their wage for a car capable of winning the championship... the answer might surprise you.


I think you're not thinking of "any" racing driver, but of Button. In an interview with Jezza on Top Gear, he suggested as much.

I wouldn't claim to know Lewis, so wouldn't make any comments on how he thinks really, unless he says something himself.

McLaren has the fastest car, but they can't seemingly get the setup right, and when they do, they mess something else up. I don't think Ron could help much with that.


Couldn't agree more with you.


Bang on. Lewis might like the bling and have Simon Fuller on quick-dial... but I give him more credit as a true racer. He will only leave McLaren if another team offers him a greater chance of lifting championship trophies. Money is an after thought.

IMO it will be Lewis' own call not to go to Ferrari or Mercedes... I think it's quite clear he wants to take Vettel apart in the Red Bull.

As a Macca fan it is worrying that they are still not delivering sustained competitiveness. I had big hopes for this 2012 car and still hope they can pull it back...

James, McLaren seem to be in a mess. All their eggs seem to have been put in the 'Martin' basket. Is there a plan B? Big Ron is increasingly visible, is he refusing to let go of the F1 reins? Is this hobbling MW's effectiveness?... I'd love to read some accurate analysis of what is really happening in Woking at the moment...


Good point well put. So in summary, Hamilton's choice is between "making money" (XIX primary goal and Hamilton's strategic choice) and "winning championship titles" (tactical choice)...

I think he can achieve both at the same time in RB.


A rule to succsess says, one never does the

business within family or friends,however

there is a exception to that rule in Hamilton

case his father was much more up to it then

his current management XIX, hopefuly Hamy and

his Father will make up and both go racing.

Hamilton is a sure thing and deserve better.


I do see your point about the management company being from the entertainment biz, but isnt that some of what makes Hamilton such a big name?

He's a young guy, who likes the bling and stylish stuff. He relates to a wider audience with much more ease, than say a down to earth guy who loves to race, but will bore you in interviews.

People always say F1 is about big business advertising, you could say Hamilton is exploiting his strengths by using an entertainment agent.

The key is that it doesnt go to Hamilton's head, money is important but racing should always be the reason for his choices! So i would agree with you in that maybe Mclaren isnt his best choice.


I think that given the choice hamilton would give everything for more championships, he's a racing driver, its in his blood to be a winner


Talk about overrated... I could not read about where Hamilton is off to for 3 more months. I'd rather stare at the wall. This is the guy that got soundly beaten by his teammate, who was new to the team, right? This is the guy that is vocal whenever Mclaren make a mistake, but after his numerous blunders of the past Mclaren always supported him? Yea he's fast on a qualifying lap. In every other area he is good, not great, except for the occasional overtake.

Just to note, the BBC are releasing their '20 greatest F1 drivers of all time', and Lewis Hamilton is number 16 or such, apparently. Of all time folks. What's next...the 20 greatest footballers ever... And Wayne Rooney is 3rd right after Maradona and Pele? I almost hope Hamilton moves so I can hear the new reasons why this mercurial genius isn't winning everything. In my opinion Mercedes would rate Nico as highly as Hamilton. Ferrari would be daft to even bring him in with Alonso. I wouldn't mind seeing Hamilton and Vettel at Red Bull... Two drivers that were basically given seats in top teams early on. Good for them, but they didnt have to work quite as hard as the likes of Webber Alonso & Schumacher. I have a feeling if Ham and Vettel are teammates at Red Bull there would be more consistently sulky than quick.


Hamilton is probably the FASTEST driver in F1 right now but he is NOT the BEST driver.

It's like with Senna, he had a lot more poles than Prost, but Prost had a lot more wins.

There is so much more to being a great race driver than just being super quick over a lap.


Yet, Senna is regarded as the best ever. Sometimes it's not the number but the way you win that matters. For me, I don't see Senna's failure to win at Monaco when he had a huge lead (I forget the year) as a negative but it makes me rate him even more. He is a driver that was seeking perfection in his craft for himself.


I think it was Prost who said:

"Gilles was the last great driver. We're all merely good professionals," something to that effect.


Who is this Wayne Rooney ... didn't he drive for Toleman?


Alonso got his first pole and win in his second full season of F1. Schumi won in his second year. Rest assured that Hamilton would take driving in the cars that Schumi and Alonso had in their first 96 GP's, over the cars he's driven in for his first 96 races.

If you knew Hamilton's progress through the lower formulae, then you'd know why he was promoted to a race seat with McLaren in 2007. He came in better prepared than say Jacques Villeneuve with Williams in 1996. The difference was that in 1996 it was strictly an in-house fight at Williams for the DWC, whereas 2007 the McLaren was the best car overall, but only slightly over the Ferrari. Mix in two top drivers for McLaren, and you had the ingredients for a 1986 Prost/Mansell/Piquet re-enactment (which came to pass).


I can see where you're getting at. But still a poorly structured argument. It makes it very difficult to reason with.


Omg, Hamilton is rated number 15 of ALL TIME? The boy is good no doubt, but he is still a boy with just one championship in five seasons.

I love Britain. Many great things and people are from Britain and the heart of F1 is there. But.. (my apologies to all Brits including my brother in law), when it comes to being biased based on nationality, sadly Brits are up at the top with the Americans and Spaniards.


It is pretty bonkers for them to rate Hamilton above 2 double champions and 2 triple champions.

Their list so far:

15 Lewis Hamilton

16 Nelson Piquet

17 Emerson Fittipaldi

18 Jack Brabham

19 Graham Hill

20 Jochen Rindt


What is the criteria applied here?

Brabham, some of whose achievements will never be

emulated, is only considered 18th best.

The actual piece was bitchy and the writer exhibited poor knowledge of his subject.

Ask yourselves a question.

If you could have a meal / drink with any of them who would you choose?

I wouldn't share a table with the likes of Hamilton - what the hell could he say that I would find interesting.

Sitting in on a chat between Jack and Jochen re Monaco '70, now that would be entertaining.


totally agree with mark here, brits (particularly england) are great at seeing our own boys as solid gold, you only have to look at the fact that this is the first time since I can remember that the england team are NOT expected to lift the trophy at a major football event.

the truth is that hamilton is a fantastic driver - no one can doubt his abilities - but unless you're a fan the guy is MASSIVELY unlikeable. it's frustrating to see people harangue drivers like schumi or alonso for their perceived arrogance whilst lauding hamilton for his.

is anyone else concerned that a lot of the talk of driver moves is being more focused on marketability? is this setting a dangerous trend for the future where more talented/worthy drivers start to get frozen out of contention?


There would be some mistake Maradonna the best of all time...


So... not a Hamilton fan then? 😉


Hamilton has been very patient this year despite the team being an absolute mess of his season. Monaco was the first signs of him starting to crack under frustration.

And your memory of 2011 is selective... Soundly is a bit far, and Button was not new to the team. Where is Button this year, for that matter?


I agree, McLaren have made some mistakes this year. However, a lot of Hamilton fans seem to have extremely short memories!

How many points did Hamilton throw away last year???? And subsequently, how many times did Martin Whitmarsh stand in front of the worlds media and declare that Hamilton had better get his act together or else?

People, usually Hamilton fan boys, are very quick to blame the world and their dog whenever Hamilton has problems, yet seem to conveniently forget all the times Hamilton has put his car into a wall or driven it up the rear end of someone else because he had 'girlfriend' problems FFS!

I suggest everyone calm down. Hamilton is currently driving for the best team, even with the problems they've had.

I am not a Hamilton fan, however, I am even less of a fan of his fan boys. Far too often he gets a bad rap due to his over zealous, one eyed, conspiracy theorist followers! Grow up and be subjective!

And @ Spinodontosaurus

Yes, I would call 43 points soundly beaten, especially when the year before when Button WAS new to the team, Hamilton only beat him by 23 points - just more than half as much!

Where is Button this year? Well, currently he's having a shocker - but at least he's taking it on the chin and not having a moan about how bad the team is!

The season is far from over, and I would wager Button to come back strong and build on his current tally of 1 win for 2012.

How many wins has Hamilton so far in 2012???



McLaren had the fastest car in 2008. As per Heikki, he was a clear number 2. What more could they have done for Lewis? Sabotage Ferrari? Wait... Stepney did in '07 😛


Mclaren wasn't faultless 2011. They were the reason Lewis overdriving the car and making mistakes at the most races Lewis made mistakes.

They are poor at strategy & pit stos for several years now.

Moncao quali 2011 just embarrassing. Hungary, big fat team mistake at tyre strategy. Silverstone qualy & race, full of team errors

China, Turkey, awful pitstops

Brazil Lewis had to race with a dying gearbox. This cost him a hell a lot of points, not only his mistakes. McLaren did good to back lewis 2011, because he saved them 2008, 2009, and could have won 2010 WDC with one less mechanical DNF (Barcelona 18 pts).


Funny how when Button doesn't do well, everyone is quick to say it's solely his fault and how it just proves he's no good and no match for Hamilton.

However, whenever Hamilton doesn't do well, it ALWAYS the teams fault cause they got the strategy wrong, gave him the wrong clutch settings, got the pitstop wrong, put him on the wrong tyres, gave him the wrong car setup, didn't give him enough information, didn't give him a competitive car, is sabotaging his car, are favouring Jenson over him...the list goes on.


Button has to take it on the chin as he is solely responsible for his poor showing and points return.


Correction - Hamilton beat button by 26 points in 2010.


Hmmm. I always find it suspicious when people have such a dislike towards a sportsperson as you so evidently do. Your review of Lewis' on track skills is... interesting. And for someone who'd rather stare at a wall than read about him, you seem to take great pleasure in writing about him.


wow,bitter much ha


I don't see why you think Robert would be happy to ride "Shotgun" as you put it..

Robert is very much like Lewis, he would only go there with the aim of beating Fernando not to play number 2 driver, Mark webber would be fine with that job role but not Robert..

He recently had an operation to improve mobility, do you have any news on him James?


And why exactly do you think Webber would be fine with the role of number 2 driver???

Oh, that's right, because at Red Bull he has been so accepting of his 'number 2' status!

That's right, I forgot!


I suppose the difference would be that Mark Webber would have to accept and agree from the get-go that he would be number 2 at Ferrari.

At Red Bull, he was there before Vettel. In fact, he and DC did all the work through the teams tough development years, then SV came along and enjoyed the spoils. So this is why I think MW is bitter about his apparent number 2 status.

At Ferrari, if his role is clearly defined from the outset I think he would be fine with the second driver position.


Way I remember it Vettel had been the only driver to win a F1 race for Red Bull when he went there with the less than sister team Toro Rosso. Enough said?


I'm still surprised by the constant Kubica-Ferrari rumours. The way I see it, he'd be a great fit as a person, plus his relationship with Alonso helps.

However, nobody can safely assume he will be as good as he was, so why would Ferrari risk another Massa situation?

Ferrari is generally quite conservative in its decision making, with the only surprise moves being for world champions or Kimi (who wasn't a WDC at the time, but universally expected to be) over the past 20 years.

I miss Robert and wish he was joint favourite with Kimi and Michael to be 2012's 7th winner, but he'll need to prove himself afresh.


I hope other drivers learn from Kubica's mistake. If the pinnacle of open wheel racing is your real passion, you should not under any circumstances take part in other, more dangerous forms of racing.

If Kimi, for example truly loves his Formula 1, he should not potentially jeopardize it for an unimportant snow mobile race.

Robert Kubica pretty much threw his very promising F1 career away for the sake of a little fun in a rally car.

It is a tragic shame indeed.


I was talking in the past. He won't come back to F1, I don't believe


Kubica is the quickest F1 driver. At least before his crash.


RK wont be back (unfortunatley)


Except he is not an F1 driver. I hope he recovers fully though.


I read a comment from a Polish guy somewhere ( I know, not exactly an impeccable source), that the news in Poland is that he hasn't of yet regained feeling in his hand.


I don't think Lewis would jump ship to Ferrari, but there’s a clear mutual in love between Fernando and Lewis and a very odd praise from Stefano Domenicalli towards Lewis after the Spanish GP.

Stefano praised him twice, in Sky and BBC. Odd…

But would be weird to see Lewis in Maranello exactly because of what you said about Fernando’s project there, but I think, James, that Lewis is a very passionate guy, much like Gilles and much like the Tifosi themselves.

Like Gilles, I think Lewis would be a perfect fit there, but the great Fernando is already in ‘nella casa di Enzo’ and the team is his. Fernando waited too long to be there and deserve this status.

Anyway, Lewis will stay in McLaren. I think the guys from XIX will find a business model to attend Lewis demands in terms of money — something like the Rebook deal.

And that’s the way this must be: the two best drivers in McLaren and Ferrari.


Even if FA and LW have shown tons of respect and praise mutually, i don´t think Ferrari will embark in hiring Hamilton and possibly create a bad atmosphere in the team, like Mclaren suffered when they were paired together and also, the only thing that maybe FA will have in mind to accept or pus Ferrari to hire LW is that he wants to beat him hard in the same car again, specially in a ferrari.


There is no doubt about it if the senior management can't pull the team around by Canada then Lewis will definitely be on the market and if that does happen, look out Mr Witmarsh the hatchet may be about to fall, you can't kid everyone you are on top of things for much longer.


If you think about it, Lewis was signed to McLaren in 1998 and in 2000 Mercedes took a 40% stake in the group, so have in someways invested heavily in Lewis and may consider him their man as much as McLaren do.

It would also be better to capitalise on that investment first hand rather than through a 3rd party. Having watched Michael's success for Benetton and Ferrari and the wasted investment in terms of maximising the potential of their star pupil during his golden age, they might want to get some return out of Lewis.

Il Drago Rosso

Just musing, but I cant help feel that Lewis doesnt really have many outstanding options. McLaren are usually a reliable bet, but haven't been this weak in terms of manufactuerer backing and mistakes since the mid 90s. Ferrari would be a challenge as its not only Fernando's team, but there is a whole different language/culture to embrace. The Tifosi would adore him (they named him Il Phenomeno when he entered F1), but the team may well struggle with the driver politics - even if they both mutually respect one another. Mercedes could well slip into obscurity again next year, there seems little guaranteed performance despite the bolstered tech department over the winter - notwithstanding the whole Concorde Agreement scenario that needs to be resolved.

That leaves Red Bull. They are probably the smartest choice for Hamilton. They have the most valuable asset in the pit lane, Adrian Newey. Wherever he has gone/been cars are/have been competitive. Plus with the big rule change set to take place in 2014, Hamilton would be wise to race for a team where the technical director has shown to be the most consistently innovative when past shake ups have occurred. However, they have their own darling in Vettel.

James, what do you think is the most likely outcome for Lewis? And, do you think Michael will stay on? I can't help but think that if he has a decent run and wins maybe one or two races he'll leave the sport happy in the knowledge he managed to cut it with the new generation.


I agree that Red Bull is his best bet, if he leaves McLaren. Follow Newey! Plus RBR as a team have shown that they're the fastest on their feet when it comes to getting their race strategy right. Plus they are also skilful at knowing how far they can push the bounds of F1's rules. Hamilton v Vettel would be great television!


The current F1 formula is about being smart and saving your tires. Drivers no longer have to push the limit of their physical abilities on a full race distance. It's just about getting the maximum performance out of your car when it matters and within the tyre window.

I can see Schumacher easily stay another two years. He won't be pleased (like Coulthard) with a win or a podium. This man is championship material. He is here to get his 8th title!


Michael might be looking for his 8th title, but he's not going to get it. In his prime he had one or possibly two exceptional drivers to compete against each season (if that), and if he beat them he won the WC. But now he has at least 3 exceptional drivers to beat, who are 13+ years younger than him. And if he DID manage to beat them (as well as their strong team mates as well) that would mean he has at least as good or a better car, and then he has the problem of Rosberg having the same car. And with Rosberg getting his first victory he has gained so much confidence that Michael would just need too much luck to beat him as well. I think Schumacher is realistically just looking to get a victory or two.


It seems like Lewis has to acquiesce and stay with McLaren.

I wonder with the new regulations coming into force soon would it be prudent for Lewis to sign only a 2 year contract and see where the teams are stacked at the end of 2014 before committing further? I envisage McLaren are keen to get him on at least a minimum 3 year contract.

James here's a question.....where do you think Lewis would like to go given there was no complications in the driver market?...ie his dream move? I have a growing feeling we'll one day see him driving for Ferrari.

I'm starting to think too listening to words exchanged between Lewis and Fernando that they really enjoy racing each other, put aside all the politics etc...when it comes to it, they both realise they could get best from each other. A kinda diet version of Prost v Senna if you like 🙂


I think it ludicrous for Hamilton to move to Mercedes. They've yet to show that their concept of low spending = wins works (surprise?), and don't seem committed to doing what it takes to have a championship winning team. Profitable maybe.

Any team that starts development many months before other teams like Mercedes did and consequently collects less points isn't where i'd put an ego like Hamiltons.

Since 2006 Mclaren have been the most consistent top team in f1. I don't see that changing but I can see XIX fumbling Hamiltons career.


Since 2006?!? That has to be Red Bull, sorry. In that time, McLaren have only had the best car once (2007). 2008 was a very good car obviously, but 2nd to the Ferrari overall (Massa had two DNF's to start the season, plus the engine blowout at Hungary, and the fuel nozzle in Singapore). Since then, they've not had a top-notch car. Some decent cars (2010 & 2011), but not top-notch.

If you're saying they've been in the top two for most of that period, yeah sure. But second just means you're the best loser: Ricky Bobby.


I think Hamilton shoud stay at McLarens. But looking at some of the things going at McLarens, I am not sure if he is well liked there by everyone. The communication problems during a race says a lot. Compared to last year, on the outside Hamilton looks very calm when addressing the media but I am not sure that is the real case.

Ferrari would be a better place for Hamilton but not sure if Alonso really wants him there eventhough he has openly stated that he has no problem with that.


I think Alonso is genuine in his words.

Mark Hughes mentions it in his column in Autosport today, and the problem was never Alonso against Hamilton. It was Alonso being dis-respected by Ron Dennis and Mclaren.

I doubt we'll ever get the full story from that season, but I can understand that Alonso, the reigning 2 times WDC was angered by Mclaren siding with Lewis.

I do remember Monaco, after the race Dennis suggested to FA that he go easy in the press conference because they'd told Lewis to back off.

Lewis stirred it himself saying the team had ordered him slow down.

Yet Alonso had dominated qualifying and the race. Yet the team was more concerned with Lewis.

The most damning quote from that year, which showed how unprofessionally Mclaren were behaving, was Dennis saying after Lewis retired in China on worn tyres,"we were racing Alonso"

The use of the surname instead of his christan name speaks volumes.

Alonso doesn't want to be number 2, he has never asked to be no 1.

Hamilton at Ferrari?

Alonso would love it. The team adore him, he knows the procedures, the nation loves him and he speaks Italian fluently.

I think Hamilton would be an awesome addition to Ferrari, simply brilliant, 2 warriors in red.

I also think, if he decided to go that way, he would be displaying more bravery than Button joining him at Mclaren.

James Clayton

Quote: Hamilton at Ferrari?

Alonso would love it. The team adore him, he knows the procedures, the nation loves him and he speaks Italian fluently.

No no no no, no. How many times do I have to repeat this? Alonso has stated several times that he has respect for Hamilton as a driver, true. It is well understood that Alonso's main problems were with McLaren, true.

Alonso has also been asked if he would ever want to be Hamilton's team mate again. He responded promptly with a one word answer: "no".

It doesn't matter how much respect you have for somebody, or who's fault it was that you had a spat in the first place. Sometimes there's just been too much water under the bridge for you to be able to get on.

James Clayton

@DingBat can't find the quote now, I'm afraid. It was a year or two back.

It was a comparison of interviews with Hamilton and Alonso. Hamilton, after saying that Alonso was the best team mate he's ever had, was asked weather he'd partner Alonso again and he said he'd absolutely be up for it. Alonso explained his main issues being with McLaren and when asked if he'd partner Hamiton again gave the one-word answer 'no'


Where did Alonso say "no" when he was asked if he would be ok with Hamilton as a team mate again? Last I read he said that he would have no problem with it and in fact I believe he would relish it as he now has the upper hand. Besides all that, as much as it would be interesting to see these two in the same team and managed properly, someone already mentioned here that he would find it difficult to fit in. Schumi, Massa and Alonso speak Italian and know the customs making their transition there relatively easy where Hamilton doesn't just as Kimi didn't and look where it got him.


I'm not so sure, I believe there is a lot of mutal respect now between Fernando and Lewis but I don't think it would be a good idea to put them together at Ferrari. Fernando fits perfectly within Ferrari, he has found there all the thing he was missing at Mclaren in 2007. I don't think Lewis will fit well in Ferrari. For me Webber would be a much better option to pair with Fernando, and I'm not talking about number 1 and number 2 drivers. I believe Lewis should stay at Mclaren, if you put it on perspective he still owes a lot to the Woking team.


Like a VT editor for 'The Apprentice' you've made a great story from a collection of edits that miss out the crucial facts.

To anybody who watched Alonso Vrs. LH at McLaren without 'Fernando tinted spectacles', it was pretty clear that both drivers wanted to be No.1, they both pushed the limits of the term 'team-mates'...unfortunately, Alonso made the mistake of trying to bribe Ron re. 'Stepneygate' so lost the support of the boss (and a hell of a lot of fans) for the second half of the year.


I hope one day we will get to know the complete story, but one thing is for sure: you have missed a good bunch of "crucial facts" here.


I left out a lot of parts of the story, not because I wanted to paint a different picture, but because my post was already too long.

Problems with R Dennis were obvious by Bahrain that year.

Monaco I have already mentioned.

In America, Alonso weaved across to the pits because he felt he was quicker than Lewis.

Throughout the year he felt isolated and not respected.

Again, these are merely recollections of the press. But I do remember an interview with Montoya that year.

He thought Alonso to Mclaren would be unbeatable till he heard that Lewis had been signed, at that point he said he knew Ron would back Lewis to a fault and he "felt" sorry for Alonso.

I agree that they both wanted to be No.1, they are both ultra competitive, but the problem wasn't between the drivers, but the mis-management of Alonso.


i have to say i have warmed to hamilton. i thought he was very very lucky in the beginning of his career, for his first year in f1 to be in the best car, and even then, winning it in some incredibly lucky circumstances (but also due to serious ferrari pit blunders, so fair play to mclaren).

hes certainly not as complete a driver as schumi or alonso, in being able to think outside the box or have that extra capacity in the car - but there is no doubt that he is quite clearly the fastest driver on the track, for sheer pace.

i enjoyed his outspoken comments in monaco last year, it added a bit of individuality and interest to him, compared to the incredibly dull, mundane, generic responses that almost all F1 drivers give when being quizzed, apart from alonso and schumi who always have something interesting to say.

Mclaren have completely screwed him over this year, and in monaco, Hamilton hit the nail on the head, questioning why his Team hadnt told him about Vettel.

In this era of cruising around, nursing tyres home, and driving to a pre determined lap time, it is VITAL that the team tell him when he has to put a spurt on and drop some fast laps, and when its safe for him to conserve tyres.

He would have absolutely no other way of knowing this.

IT was critical that the team be monitoring the gap to vettel, and to inform Hamilton 'vettel is 20 seconds ahead, start pushing or he'll jump you'.

But they didnt. If mclaren can't get their act together (they are acting like the 2008 ferrari team) then he should try and get a seat at Mercedes, if schumi leaves. Or - sign a 1 year deal with Mclaren (if thats even possible) and jump into a redbull (there is no way Alonso would want Ham to be his teammate at ferrari).


Thanks for this post. I watched the race on holiday in France on tf1 and could not believe the gap he left to alonso. I wondered whether he was aware of vettel and you have now confirmed this for me.


i thought the most telling moment this weekend was hamilton asking about his tyre pressures early on in the race, his race engineer sullenly informed him that "we are constantly checking tyre pressures, they are fine".

I may be reading too much into it but the tone of conversation between driver and engineer didn't feel very cordial.


I would love to see Rob Smedley poached from Massa, he would be ideal for Lewis on the radio!


In my mind, there's no question about it, Schumi is to retire after this season for the original plan was to wrap up a title at the end of his 3 year contract and then head back to racing motorcycles.

As it turns out, things haven't gone according to plan (sadly) for the Red Baron so much so, I wouldn't put money on a Schumi podium in Canada for it's quite clear his luck deserted him around Suzuka 2006.

So that's a free seat at Mercedes then for Di Resta & possibly a free seat at Force India for Jaime.

As for Lewis, it all depends on Mclaren. If their car is competitive in the next couple of races + if they cut out with the mistakes, then sure Lewis will stay & hence why Lewis has been careful not to criticize the team too much (out of loyalty to Ron Dennis).

But if Lewis sees, his competition leaving him behind on track, there's absolutely no way he would stick around so I think it has more to do with the car than what business deals his management team have up their sleeves.

And if Lewis is to leave, Ferrari is absolutely a no go area for that's not how they work with two #1 drivers plus they learned a bitter lesson after what happened between Gilles & his teammate.

Lewis surely can't venture into Mercedes for they aren't serious contenders yet + their future isn't certain

So yeah, Red Bull is the only realistic possibility (ahem Canada 2011 meeting) for Vettel is a cool bloke that wouldn't mind but it's owner too is an eccentric sort of chap.

So I pray this is were Lewis ends up for one can't go wrong with Newey in your corner.

My prediction:

Webber ---> Ferrari

Paffett ---> Mclaren

Di Resta ---> Mercedes

Force India ---> Jaime

Williams ---> Kubica in place for Senna


I think the "eccentric chap" who owns RBR won't be too interested in a guy who said they are "just a drinks company". There too many other options that are a better fit for the team, not least of which is keeping MW there for another year.

As James has reported, the owner loves Webber and winning just Monaco last weekend will mean the inks probably drying on a good offer for MW.

In fact I think MW is more a key to the driver market than Lewis or Schumy. Where he goes, Ferrari, RBR or maybe another team, will determine what is available for the others. I'm not saying MW is better than the others, I just think he is more highly valued for his knowledge, experience and communication with engineers about car set up, and this makes a perfect teammate to say Alonso.


The irony is, Paffett, the test-driver of McLaren is dominating the DTM like a true champion, whereas the two F1 champions are not able to perform accordingly. Mercedes might fire McLaren as a partner this season.


I haven't laughed this hard in ages.

Thankyou my friend.

Paffett to Mclaren, OMG!

As to Newey and things not going wrong in his corner, I'd just like to ask, between 2000 and 2010, exactly how many championships did his cars win?

I know you're a Kaiser fan, so I believe you'd agree that if he hadn't broken his leg in 1999, chances are he would have won the WDC. After all, Irvine nearly did and Ferrari secured the WCC.

Mclaren won:

7 races in 2000

4 in 2001

1 in 200

2 in 2003

1 in 2004

10 in 2005

0 in 2006

Red Bull since 2006 read as follows,

2007 0

2008 0

2009 6

2010 9

2011 12

I don't doubt that he is the greatest designer of F1 cars since Byrne retired, but to state nothing goes wrong with him at the helm, well statistics would prove otherwise.

Red Bull turned up with a B spec car at the last pre-season test (putting the firghteners into everyone), yet has left Vettel going a different way to Webber in the cars development.

This will not be a dominant car like the previous 2 seasons.


I know from previous post you don't rate Newey but I'd be happy to drive a car with a designer that has won over 50 races in the last 11 seasons.


@ hero was Senna

No, what I seek from Newey isn't a dominant car but rather a guaranteed decent car every year and if you recall at Mclaren, he lost a title due to unreliability and a couple other titles to a better designer in Byrne.

Now since Byrne retired, Newey really has no competition infact if you look at this year's Red Bull, it's a pretty quick car, just lacks the qualifying pace (or maybe can't extract the performance from the tyres over one lap)

So yeah, with Newey in your corner one can't go wrong especially if you look at what he did at Williams in the 90s


@ James Clayton

So how does an unreliable car make a

decent car?


The issues with Kimi's car in 2005 weren't car related but rather engine related.

So infact Mercedes lost Kimi the title and not Newey

James Clayton

"what I seek from Newey isn’t a dominant car but rather a guaranteed decent car every year"

"and if you recall at Mclaren, he lost a title due to unreliability and a couple other titles to a better designer in Byrne."

So how does an unreliable car make a decent car?


Just curious why you suggest Alguersuari to Force India. Don't you think that Bianchi would be considered for the seat, perhaps with some Ferrari influence? He's already third driver there.

Also, I'd love to see Kubica back... but I haven't heard anything about his recovery. I personally doubt that he'll be behind the wheel of any F1 car any time soon. I do agree that Senna will likely be out the door before long, however.

Sadly, I think Paffett is relegated to third-driver status for life. I'd bet on a Mercedes driver coming over before calling up Paffett; they've even got a junior team now in DTM, and di Resta proved that DTM is a feasible pool of talent for F1. McLaren and Mercedes may not have the close ties they once did, but having a Mercedes driver in a Mercedes-powered car to groom them can't be a bad move, and would make more sense than buying a seat at a team like HRT.


@ malcolm.strachan

Just curious why you suggest Alguersuari to Force India.


I say this because Alguersuaria seems pretty confident of being in F1 next year and with Force India being the only mid field team likely to have an opening well...

Also test drivers (especially young ones) can warm the bench for a couple of seasons before getting the drive.


True... but Paffett's in his 30's, and has been testing for McLaren since 2006. This is his 7th season on the bench, and many other teams have passed him up.


We need another word for these 'pole''s which don't actually count!

Any ideas?


"Was fastest in qualifying" covers it.


Haha! Touché!


Lets not forget that Massa might be playing as big a role in the 2013 driver market... should he be replaced then that will vreate a bigger chain reaction than Schumi for eg.


I'm surprised I got to post 18 without a mention of Massa. I also believe that Hamilton will stay at McLaren, but my fantasy is:

Massa > IndyCar

Perez > Ferrari

Hamilton > Sauber (can finally prove his worth in a midfield car)

Di Resta > McLaren

!Chandhok > Force India!


I think Perez needs to mature for another year before moving on to Ferrari. The only shot he's had at a win, he almost threw away by sliding off the track, removing any chance of a win. Still, he's proven that he's fast and good with the tires, he just needs to prove he's got the racecraft.

I think Massa might move to WEC, but you never know. 😉

Di Resta to McLaren makes sense if Schumacher stays...

Tornillo Amarillo

If Mercedes withdraws from F1, Rosberg could go to Ferrari...

Hamilton is the big name in F1 not having team for 2013, and Mercedes and McLaren are the only 2 teams not having a big number 1 driver for 2013, so... there you are.

Bye bye Schumacher!


Any driver would be right down idiot to go after money at the expense of the performance.

Sadly, I can imagine Hamilton going for the big buck as a primary concern over the performance.


Lewis was asked from Sport-Bild at Monaco, what is the most important thing for you about your future team. What do you want?

LH: "I want to win races"

Q:Did McLaren let you know you they want you to stay?

LH. "Yes," and smiles

Q:Could you imagine to stay foreve at McLaren?

LH: "I have indeed thought about it.And I can imagine to stay forever. But who knows what the future brings.

The most imprtant thing for me is to be sourrounded from people wich help me ."

Q:Do you have negotiations with other teams right now?

LH: "No"

Make out of it whatever you want


Maybe his management, but I doubt Lewis would be so short sighted to do so.

Lewis has always stated he wants more than one championship and I hope that any driver goes for performance rather than money


I don't think Schumi will retire plus Mercedes are not looking for Lewis they have Paul DiResta on their radar. Plus I think its not Lewis or Schumi that hold the key.

Its Felipe who does. If he performs then no one is going anywhere also Kubica being fit throws in many more options. Of course if he is fit and still fast.


1) Massa can still perform well and retain his seat, leaving Mark at Red Bull and Lewis at McLaren. Kubica comes back to claim a seat!! Not sure where but still. Who knows!!

2) Massa is out but Kubica is fit and Ferrari sign him. Mark has no where to go and stays put and so does Lewis

3) Massa is out, Kubica is not fit and Mark moves to Ferrari. Then only Lewis gets an option.


Agree +1

This is exactly what I'm thinking.... as per my earlier post.

I honestly don't believe Hamilton is "key" to the 2013 driver market.. as you rightly say he can only move on if and when there is an "vacant seat"

There is just 2 drivers currently that could cause a bit of a chain reaction should they decide to leave and that is

#1 Massa and

#2 Schumi

If both end up staying then there just about zero chance of any real "musical chairs" being played out with 2013 seats.

My Fantasy is

Massa > out and replaced by Webber for a year thereafter replaced by Perez or Kubica.

Hamilton to RBR to show if Vettel is truly as great as some believe.

Di Resta to McLaren

Schumi to retire again and replaced by Hulkenburg


+1 for "Hamilton to RBR to show if Vettel is truly as great as some believe."

I am one of them who does not believe Vettle is great. Fernando is great, in fact one of the best to ever sit in a F1 cockpit. However, for me as of today Vettle and Hamilton are just VERY VERY GOOD but not GREAT.

My fantasy -

Vettle & Hamilton at RBR.

Alonso & Kubica at Ferrari.

And RBR and Ferrari come up with fast cars next year.

If it happens it'll be an explosive season. 🙂


Best move from Mclaren would be to fire Withmarsh,not only they will keep Hamilton it would make them a real contender for both championships.

I do not remember a big team making so MANY SILLY human errors in recent years,and the big guy is the responsible one.

He has to have good relationship with the press,otherwise is kind of amazing how lenient the media has been with him.


Or maybe just take the responsibility for those racing decisions away from Whitmarsh and hire a sporting director to look after the race weekends.


Schumacher's role at Mercedes is to develop the car until it is a winner. My prediction is they'll continue for another year., which is a shame because really talented drivers like Hulk, Sam Bird and Paul du Resta are denied a winning car because of this.

Hamilton would be crazy to leave McLaren. The only thing I can imagine is his management trying to raise the price.

Vettel has to wait for Alonso to leave until he can go to Ferrari, and he'd be wise to take a few Brits with him, because since Montezemolo said that Ferrari needs more italians, the team is going down the drain.


Hulk has yet to show he's world class F1 material. One Pole in lucky conditions doesn't make a champion. He got his ass whooped by the old man Barrichello, now he's getting it again from di Resta (who got owned by Sutil) and it just seems like he's on his way to become the next Jan Magnussen, that also had a great career prior to Formula 1, but failed to make the next step stick.



Can I put a theory to you, if and it is and if! But should Mark Webber leave Red Bull, likely for Ferrari wouldnt Red Bull be left with no option but to move for Hamilton?

My thinking is that there would be no other top line drivers available, you could argue Di Resta or Hulkenberg but I dont see them as a fit there and neither of the Toro Rosso drivers are ready yet. It would just be too big an opportunity for Red Bull to not sign Lewis up. Thoughts?


They could just buy out Kimi's contract. Might be the cheaper option.


In my view, Lewis is better off at Mclaren since he at least has the team focused around him. If he goes to Mercedes then Rosberg already has his foot in the door and I wouldn't fancy taking Schumachers side of the garage with their run of form.

If Webber goes to Ferrari then he is giving up on his aspirations of being champion. Is he really at that stage mentally given he could potentially win the title yet this season.


Schmi is the old boxer that's had too many bouts. Sure there's still touches of genius a'la Monaco qualy

Lewis is the spoilt kid in the pram. Waa waa throw the toys out.

One is past ripe the other should have been fully matured before being put on the F1 shelf.


James, why does 'everyone' talk about Webber being a good fit at Ferrari? We all know whoever would be at Ferrari would be a No.2 Driver for Alonso (Massa is actually doing a good job there - see Alonso top of the points, unlike other teams' drivers) - and surely Webber, like most other drivers, would NOT like to be employed as a No.2 Driver? (Remember his "Not bad for a No.2 Driver!" comment one time?


Massa is doing a good job at Ferrari? Are you kidding me? In 6 races he has less points than both Williams and Sauber drivers and alot less than DiResta also. I'm not even gonna mention the other top 4 teams.


I simply meant... he's doing a good job 'as a No.2 Driver', in not battling with Alonso but remaining in the background, trying to be a road-block! Just a pity he hasn't gained more points for the team/championship!


I think there are number 2 drivers and then there are team mates. Webber and Alonso get along very well and they need someone who's going to score a lot of points without getting involved in a political battle for supremacy in the team.


As Davexx said, any driver would be no 2 at Ferrari given Alonso's talent.

It may as well be Hamilton.


That's precisely why Hamilton and Alonso at Ferrari would not work. Both would fight to the last to be number 1 and it would be the team that would suffer why they fought a political battle for supremacy. Alonso would win that battle because he operates so well in a political team.

Hamilton's only method would be to decisively beat his teammate on the track but being Ferrari No.1 involves much more than that and Alonso has a head start.


Hi James, whilst you mentioned Ferrari needs a driver like Kubica do you have any update on his recovery.

It must be so hard for him watching the races this year as im certain he could have done some amazing drives in the lotus or even the Ferrari

One final note, all us Italians would love to see Hamilton drive for Ferrari even alongside Alonso


The best driver available on the market today is Adrian Sutil. He can have both a flamboyant driving style to keep the Tifosi happy, and get close enough to Alonso to keep him on his toes and get points for the constructor's championship.

Hamilton's best choice is McLaren, the team is always among the very best and he has their support. Ferrari would be no step forward, nor would RedBull. Mercedes currently do have a serious quality control problem (they always had) and yet have to prove that they are a safe bet.

Webber - I'm not entirely sure if he wants to continue F1 at all. From RedBull nothing could be a step forward and for some reason, I don't see him driving for Ferrari either. For some reason I don't think he fits into their team.


Another shocker would be Force India management quitting or selling their team. The UB group - the giant Indian conglomorate that owns ForceIndia are apparently nearly broke. Their airline is grounded, and they are selling some prime realestate, i highly doubt it if Mr.Mallya would want to invest $100m+ on car racing when he cannot pay his staff. That would leave Hulkenberg and Di Riesta without a drive, or if they sell, a heavily compromised and under-funded drive.


Force India will stick around for another year, then sell out to VW for the new regs with small turbo engines.


VW don't even have decided they want to enter Formula 1, and until now they have always decided against, if it was in question. And if they decided tomorrow that they would go for it, they don't even have an engine, while the others are already designing one for some time, and the first prototypes (some of them just 1-cylinder) will ignite this year. And I doubt we would ver see an Audi PURE or something alike.


Maybe a move to Lotus? Senna raced for them in his career, and Kimi as a team mate would suit Lewis. Kimi is an ex McLaren driver in Lotus now,

Grojean is quick in the car so it must be a well designed car, won titles as a team and have had Alonso, Schumi as champions before.

James Clayton

Thank you, finally! I've been touting this around for weeks. They seem competitive. Senna also drove for a team called Lotus (politically correct enough? :)). And I know they currently have the French connection, but Kimi and Lewis would be a difficult partnership for sponsors to resist, would they not?

I'd really be interested to hear James' (not me!) thoughts on this.


Very left field and totally hypothetical.... what if a team like Sauber or Williams got up by the end of the season and was in top 3 or better? Not saying it would happen (though its not out of the realms of possibility) but how would that change things?

Performance or paycheque?


As above I'd consider that Hamilton would be interested in moving to Williams if they came up good.

Pulkit Tripathi

I think that Hamilton should look outside from McLaren, as RedBull-Mercedes-Ferrari or even Lotus can give him the challenge that he want to prove. Staying at Mclaren will not be bad as team has strong resources and they have produced consistent fast car. Leaving Mcca is a challenge!I think Lewis is ready for it!


I hope Lewis stays at McLaren but on the other hand it would be great to see him go to red bull and wipe the floor with Vettel!


I think LH will stay at Maclaren. If Massa is ejected from Ferrari and Webber moves over to Maranello than perhaps LH might go to Red Bull, but that is the only place he would go.

I don't believe for a second Mercedes is leaving the sport any time soon but even if Shumi retires (I hope he doesn't as he is entertaining)I don't think LH will see them as a real viable option. As someone said earlier, the changes coming 2014 are huge and it might be a good bet to be on the team with the most consistent designer - Newey. Are the current slip-ups by Maclaren a sign they are starting to feel what they have lost when Mercedes took over Brawn, leaving them as a customer engine team? It is all fun to speculate!


I'd like to see a poll of readers on whether or not Schumacher (a) will win a race this year, and (b) do another year.

How about Perez at Ferrari, Hamilton stays at McLaren, Kobayashi at Red Bull, Webber at Lotus with Raikkonen. Or, maybe Hamilton and Rosberg could swap seats.


PS where will Massa end up next year? He may not be in F1. If his only option was Caterham/Marussia, he may not bother.

Truth or lies

Massa if he continues like Monaco will be at Ferrari (on a one year rolling deal) Hamilton will stay where he is, as will Schumacher for one more year at least. It's in 2014 that the driver market will change a lot, with MS probably retiring and Rosberg maybe replacing Massa at Ferrari. Webber will probably retire too and Hamilton will have a choice of Mercedes or Red Bull. Unless of course Alonso goes to Mercedes... only kidding.

If Massa improves for the rest of this year (plenty of points, maybe a podium) he'll be kept for sure, top race winning driver from a BRIC country, but if for some reason is still dropped, then Williams or Sauber would make sense. Despite everything said here he is still bloody quick, fastest in Monaco Q2...


Follow Rubens to Indycars....?


I really can't see why a winner like Michael Schumacher would decide to retire when at last it looks like they have a car that can fight at the front. Why would he? Its not like he has something else he wants to be at.

As Monaco and previous races this year show Schumacher is more than capable of winning even if he is 43. The bizzare thing is these reliability problems at Mercedes on just his car.

I see Webber to Ferrari and Hamilton to Red Bull but don't know who will get the McLaren seat.


I totally agree with all your points on Schumacher.

Strangely, I can also see Webber at Ferrari and Hamilton at Red Bull.


I agree entirely just as mercedes are getting completive and people think schumi will go!

Hamilton I believe has already signed something with red bull.


I can't really see Hamilton leaving McLaren, he's been there too long and the options available are certainly no better than what McLaren can offer him.


Fernando Alonso wins the F1 2011 British Grand Prix at Silverstone for Ferrari with the Red Bull's of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber second and third.

We see the same rang order in the current 2012 championship. That means the best cars without the blown diffusers at the British GP are in fact the best since then. The problem with Ferrari, which was a tyre problem, is now solved. What about McLaren? When did they have a serious update or innovation since their discovery of the F-Duct system, which ironically is used by Mercedes now? I think McLaren are in real trouble. This could be a disastrous year for Hamilton, and for Button in particular who 'welcomed back 2009' early in Melbourne.Lewis should join the Indycar!


Why Red Bull or Ferrari would want to add a world champion to a double world champion is beyond me. So I can't see either of them offering a seat to Hamilton, Button or Raikkonen while Vettel and Alonso are on board.

And I can only see any of those 5 moving to a team they think will give them a better chance of a championship or an enormous amount of cash.

Can you see anyone choosing to leave Red Bull, Mclaren or Ferrari for Mercedes based on championship chances ? I can't. So if Schumacher quits they need to be looking at the Paul DiRestas of this world - like they are.

It seems a safe assumption that Massa will lose his seat. Would he team up with Ross Brawn again (would Brawn want him ? )

Webber doing a couple of well paid seasons for Ferrari before calling it a day? Maybe, but agreeing to play second fiddle ? Maybe not. Perez to Ferrari then?

If there is a seat at Red Bull, Lewis might do well to ignore the management company and remember what his idol famously said: he'd drive for the team with all conquering Adrian Newey designed car for nothing. Two world champions got out of his way. Best not to dwell how that concluded.

But who would care if Mercedes only were an Engine supplier in future ? Rosberg to Ferrari and Schmacher and Massa to retirement is the neatest solution.


Dr Marko and Christian Horner have out-rightly said that Hamilton would not fit into the RBR team.

If RBR go hiring ready-made drivers, Helmut Marko would be out of a job. If Vergne or Ricciardo show their worth, one of them will replace Mark come 2014. Otherwise, they will be booted out unceremoniously and another two hatchlings from the RBR coop will fill their places.


What Massa does will create a chain reaction as well, but I think most observers have stated that Ferrari will let Massa go at the end of the season. The more important question, to me at least, is what does Webber do? The article assumes that this is his last year at Red Bull - is that true?


Mark Webber will most probably stay at RBR. Quotes from Horner and Dietrich point to this.



Also, it has been said by Marko that the new STR boys will need atleast two years to show their worth.


I think Hamilton would have hard time adapting to the Language / culture at Ferrari. Add to that, a fierce competitor in Alonso who speaks Italian, and has made that team his own.It just seems too risky. It would be fun too see though.

Mercedes also seems a bit risky. There future in the sport seems uncertain. However if this was resolved, they do have have Ross Brawn, who has had success at three different teams for whatever reasons. Chances are Mercedes will come good eventually, so they might not be a bad bet.

Red Bull is obviously the most likely team to give Hamilton success as they have Adrian Newey. Christian Horner never seemed to keen on Hamilton, but ultimately the decision is not up to him. If Vettel stays, would they be willing to risk and Vettel / Hamilton partnership? If Hamilton does have a chance of a Red Bull seat, he should take it.

But I think Hamilton will stay with McLaren. He's been with them most his life, and they're a safe bet. He should have the measure of Button now, Lewis is the better driver and he knows that, unlike taking on Vettel or Alonso. And McLaren are bound to sort these silly errors. A win in Montreal or Silverstone and all will be right again with Lewis and McLaren


As great as it would be to see the widely respected 2 best racers on the grid in equal machinery again, I can't see LH joining Ferrari. (note; I said racers, not GP Drivers).

Think back to how politically savvy and motivational FA was at the start of the year when the Ferrari was a dog of a car. Contrast that with the emotional outbursts of LH. There's enough emotion in Maranello without adding the likes of LH. What they need is an experienced austrailian.

LH to RBR is a far more likely prospect, he'd love the chance to go up against SV and prove his worth and the marketing value would be enormous to a company like Red Bull. Plus he gets the best designer on the grid 1 year before a major regulation change. Bingo.


To be perfectly blunt, I think McLaren in their ineptness, and failure to give Hamilton a properly competitive car have let him down big time over the last five years. Hamilton was and still is a driver capable of multi-championship wins if he is looked after properly, and has a front running car. Personally I think they have put him through the mincer, and blunted his ego etc., etc., and I think if there was a good opportunity elsewhere he ought to go. It's very difficult from the drivers perspective to forecast the future, but I suspect Red Bull is the best option, and seem to be the team that is emerging the strongest overall. - And of course they have Adrian Newey. McLaren are clumsy, inept, and need a new team principle.


it's so easy to forget that maclaren is the reason Lewis has a world championship in the first place, what other driver in recent years went straight into a car capable of race wins?


The 2010 McLaren car was a lot better than the 2009 car which was dreadful, but was not really competitive, and were slow getting their EBD working properly. Hamilton and Button really did not stand a chance. Red Bull really were in a class of their own until Webbers form dropped away which allowed Alonso to get his foot in the door. In the last race a strategy error by Ferrari cost them the championship and gave it to Vettel. I don't think Hamilton has had what could be called a dominant car like the Red Bull merely competitve enough to be at the front with Ferrari. Hopefully McLaren can get their act together to allow their drivers some chancew of winning a few GP's, but they really do need to get a lot smarter and more perceptive as to what is happening in a race. This season they started quite well, but have fallen behind significantly.


Indeed it is, the McLaren car of 2007/8 was competitive about on par with Ferrari overall.

Since Whitmarsh has taken over they have had varying degrees of success. What happened in 2007/8 is history, and quite frankly Hamilton should have won the championship in 2007 his rookie year, and would have done with a little more care. Red Bull seem much more together as a team. A much more cohesive unit I'd say.


"Hamilton should have won the championship in 2007 his rookie year, and would have done with a little more care"

The same could be said of 2010. And he didn't have rookie status to fall back on there.

The only difference, the only reason it didn't come under the spotlight, is that the races he fouled up in weren't the last two of the season.

I'm a Hamilton fan, by the way. I just like to reflect from all angles.


he will not be in a Ferrari. That is for sure


Like you said James, Red Bull is run by management in Austria and they will take a commercial view that Lewis Hamilton can help them sell more cans of Red Bull therefore I can see them putting in a big money offer for Lewis. If this puts Vettels nose out of joint then he might jump ship to Mercedes (provided they stick around in F1).


Red Bull is a marketing company, and Lewis Hamilton's management is a marketing company. I can see them both coming to the same conclusion: Lewis and Red Bull are a match made in marketing heaven.

I can also see Hamilton justifying it as the move Button made: I want to challenge myself; I want to take on one of the best (Vettel) and show I'm better.


Things are obviously a little sour between Hamilton and McLaren these days, without Ron Dennis being in charge. I think it would be fantastic to see Hamilton join a team that is not currently winning titles, and build the team around him. Like Schumi did with Ferrari. A team like Lotus or Williams would be perfect - they are both in a resurgent period of sorts, and with Hamilton's experience and influence could be right back up at the top. Lotus already have their superstar in Kimi, but Williams could be an interesting move - so many legends have driven for them, and they are obviously back in the habit of making fast cars. I just wonder if XIX would discourage a move like this, since it won't be the most lucrative option.


Interesting article and this always brings out a lot of opinions so here is mine.

Personally I cannot see any of the top drivers going to Mercedes until Mercedes makes a clear and positive announcement about their future. Why would you sign for any company whose future has a cloud over it and are making statements not giving confidence to long term plans. Therefore I cannot see Hamilton going to Mercedes at this stage. And I don’t think they would pay what XIX wants.

I also cannot see Schumi leaving the sport next year unless he has at least a few podiums to his name this year. Being the person he is, he would have wanted to win at least a race in his comeback before retiring (again). 44 is getting on and his reflexes cannot be the same however his mindset will determine his decision. Just ask Jack!

I think Ferrari and Webber hold the key to driver movements next year. Ferrari look to be heading to part ways with Massa, irrespective of what Massa does for the remainder of the year. Additionally, if Webber has a great season (possibly wins WDC) then I think he would not leave RB. He is too close to a lot of friends at RB and Dietrich would not let it happen. If Webber has a ‘let down’ for the rest of the season, I think he would go to Ferrari. That opens the door at RB. RB need someone like Webber (whose car setup ability is grossly under rated even with a bad 2011 season and what Newey loves about Webber) to support Vettel when things with the car ‘go bad’. I think Lewis would be a good fit at RB since I don’t think they would promote anyone from within (Torro Rosso) yet at RB. The only thing about Lewis is that I do not think RB would tolerate some of the ‘radio talk’ Hamilton gives his McLaren team. That is one thing against him.

Is Hamilton ‘over’ McLaren?. Even though he has been let down this year by team mistakes I think he would struggle greatly with leaving the team. If the door isn’t open at RB, he would stay at McLaren. Going to Ferrari?. Can’t see it happening

Ferrari? If Webber doesn’t go there then Perez will.

If Hamilton leaves McLaren, DiResta will go to McLaren and Jamie to Force India.

Unfortunately, I cannot see Kubica in F1 again. What a big loss. Senna will get another season at Williams.

Lastly XIX need to get Hamilton a deal with the best team. Not the team offering the best money. Hamilton will do better in life after F1 as a multiple champion, than a driver who should have won more championships.


I agree, I think if Webber wins with the WDC with Red Bull he will definitely go to Ferrari though as his career objective would be complete and what better way to see out his last season as world champion than with Ferrari!

I feel Lewis would do well at Red Bull eventually after he has adapted to the car but still think his safest bet would be to stay at McLaren as they consistently produce good (not great) cars. Even though Newey is good at rule changes think he should wait till the rule changes before deciding to move on!

James Clayton

A lot of people, including yourself, have said things such as (if I may paraphrase, slightly - your example is not really the best to choose - sorry about that!) "I also cannot see Schumi [wanting to] leave the sport next year".

Of course, it's not *just* his decision. He's out of contract, and he needs a team (Mercedes, I don't see him starting again elsewhere) to offer him a drive to remain in the sport. And there's surely at least a chance that that may not happen...


No problems James. Your view could be taken with a few drivers this year in respect to the teams offering another contract. I agree with you that it's Merc or nothing for him.

I think whilst Ross Brawn is at Merc, Schumi will get another year however that will be it. Schumi's value to Merc could be valued more off the track than on it.

Merc will not dump Schumi, he will leave first so 'image' all round is preserved.


I don't believe Schumi will retire at the end of this season. Car is finally coming good and if he starts getting the odd podium and potential win he needs he will stay for another year which I can safely bet would be his last.

I think what he can take from this season so far is that he has pace, no denying that. Luck has not been there but this can change very quickly with one good result. The pole in Monaco will have given him confidence in the car and more importantly in himself. With Canada coming I feel this will be the turning point in his season.

The guy is an asset to F1 and love him or hate him, F1 is just not the same without him.


Lewis Hamilton will stay at McLaren even though he's got a few options which are quite unrealistic knowing the star drivers Alonso and Vettel will be locked in their existing contract. Lewis and Merc don't seem like a good match IMO.


Think its clear from Hamilton's (body) language that he is now open to a move and that loyalty has it ends. Problem for Old Lewis is that I don't see anyone paying what he (read management team) wants nor are there many options as already made clear in several posts.

I think Lewis's stock has been in decline since last year when he was not driving well and team managers could see he his not always intelligent and calm enough. On top of that other driver talents like Perez, diResta are in their 2nd season and are doing a very good job. They are cheaper.

Last point I want to make is that even is Michael is going, surley Mercedes are wanting Nico to succeed and win a title (unless they poach Vettel but lets forget about that). This means there is no point in putting Hamilton next to him in the Merc.

James Clayton

I think any stock Lewis lost last year is well on its way to being recovered this year.


My prediction for 2013:

1. Massa stays in red for another season

2. Hamilton stays at McLaren (possible 3 year deal)

3. Schumacher stays at Mercedes for one another season.

4. Webber stays at RBR (one season)

5. Hulkenberg and DiResta remain under paid at Force India.

6. Vergne and Ricciardo stay at STR

7. Lotus - same drivers, but Grosjean smiles less in 2013 (as he becomes more of a man and less of a boy)

Sorry to burst your bubbles guys but I don't predict much movement come 2013....

Truth or lies

Spot on.

Actually Kimi might even retire (again) before MS, he's one strange cat that Kimi, funny how his head was down so much in Monaco, just after the team told him he couldn't go Rallying.


As I see it, McLaren is in a very strong negotiating position. He has no real alternatives:

Ferrari - not a chance in a million years.

Red Bull - Hamilton shot himself in the foot by publicly making overtures to Red Bull last year, and being thereafter snubbed. I don't see him at Red Bull as long as Vettel is there. Moreover, I believe Webber will continue at Red Bull next year. He appears to be the least likely of any driver on the grid to drive for a non-English speaking team like Ferrari.

Mercedes - I do believe Schumi will continue, and even if he doesn't it will not be known until the end of the season.

Mclaren will realize that Hamilton likely will not have any serious alternatives, at least, during the summer contract negotiations period.

I also did get the sense last year that Ron Dennis (who is still the super boss) and McLaren would have been slightly uncomfortable with the hip hop-celebriy glitz culture that Lewis was bringing into the team. Perhaps they want him out? I wouldn't be entirely surprised if Hamilton is left without a competitive drive next year. Any inside views on this, James?

Crucial weeks ahead for him.

James Clayton

Perhaps they want him out? Which is why they're reportedly offering him 60 million to stay?




Doesn't matter where Hamilton goes. I honestly believe you have seen the best of him. Outside influences seem to dictate his outlook and performance in F1 and from all accounts if your not 100% switched on doesn't matter where you go, it ain't gonna happen.

Hoping MS stays at least long enough to get a win. He deserves it for what he has put into the sport. Imagine being smashed and spoken about for 3 years do which most comments have been negative. He has proved he is worthy and if the Mercedes was as competitive the last two years as it is now I'm sure he would of had a few podiums if not wins.


With Mercedes' future in the sport in doubt, where do you see Nico fitting in to this equation? RBR?


On his toes at the moment, hoping they stay in. The more I learn about the deal on the table for the other top teams I can see why Merc are unhappy with what they are being offered. There is a big premium for past success at championship level and Merc won two in the 1950s and another with Brawn


I can understand Merc being unhappy with the situation you describe James. Principle, pride and um er money.

I'd hate to see Nico go backwards at this stage of his career. This young guy has learned so much the past few years and deserves a decent seat going forward. I reckon he'd give Seb a run for his money if the situation ever arose.


Speaking of Kubica, is there any news on him?


I can't see Hamilton going to Ferrari alongside Alonso. I can't see him going to Mercedes either.

RBR is more likely, but stay at Mclaren is what's most possible to happen.

They just have to raise the bar and do better on the track.


and Lotus?


Hi James,

I am quite surpirised you have described Robert Kubica as a "riding shotgun", given that Kubica has been the better of the two drivers (Hamilton) when they competed in earlier years.

I believe that Kubica is as good as Alonso (who perhaps is one of the top 5 drivers in the history of the sport).




I also see Kimi being in the mix in the drivers market in 2012, too.


Who do you think is the most important in the driver market James? As in who will get the ball rolling? Hamilton is for sure looking elsewhere, Schumacher weighting up his options, Webber too looking around for the best deal and Massa struggling to hang on to his seat in Red.


Hamilton. He may well stay put, but the possibility of moving leaves things in the air


If you had to guess at this point in time, will he stay or leave? Thinking the next few races will decide his fate as much as decide the main runners for this year's championship. Clearly he is getting annoyed about the mistake and lack of performance so if looking around for the best deal. Certainly he is not the same man who said in his first year that he will stay with the team for his entire career.


What about Raikkonen? As far as I know he's only on a 1 year contract at Lotus is it not?

I'm sure there are many teams who would like him in one of their cars. Grosjean too. Needs to get rid of the "crash-kid-syndrome" but he's been fast too.

And Glock? He's disappeared off the radar, but he's consistent and quick enough to be a number 2. Maybe his age is counting against him.


Hope Glock decides to do what Fichella did when he left Jordan. Fischella moved to Sauber a midfield team, drove a strong season and got a job at Renault up front. Glock really needs to get out of there in my view. Hope Kimi stays where he is as it appears to be working for both the team and him.


I always thought Lewis was meant to stay at Mclaren. However Mclaren have gone a bit "stale" lately.If Mercedes decide to stay in the game for a while and Michael hangs up his helmet, he should go to them in 2013 It would be really good for him and the experience of working with a key partner could prove invaluable to Mercedes AMG, not to mention he is one of the very best out there! I also think he and Nico woild make a good combination -same sort of persnalities and age and Norbert Haug likes Lewis. I don't think Horner is as big a fan and they will go via their young drivers to partner up with Senastian.


Hi James, in the scenario of Hamilton leaving McLaren, would it be safe to say that the legendary team is in quick decline internally? I think Hamilton will be the person who know the best about the future of the team.


There's no point in him staying at McLaren. The last few years McLaren have made strategic mistakes with the paths followed for their cars. I.e. no evolution, kitchen sink approach every year. This year was an evolution of last year. But they still got it wrong with the lack of high nose, so another approach again for next year.

So McLaren have produced some cars that were not genuine title challengers over the past years. Now that in 2012 they have produced a genuine challenger and he doesn't haven to overdrive, what is the point in staying if they make strategic mistakes even with a fast car? This is why he should just go.

RBR is a marketing team, and Hamilton is marketing man's dream come true. These 2 in theory should be a match made in heaven. If I was RBR I would get Hamilton in and let Vettel go if he wants, Hamilton has already made it clear he is not afraid to partner Vettel. Hamilton also has the more worldwide appeal and would sell more cans of Redbull than Vettel (who is big mainly in Germany) so again I don't understand the business decision in not hiring Hamilton.

However, Hamilton still should not join Newey because Newey has a weakness. While Newey is great at hitting the ground running with big rule changes (98, 09+), he has always been outdone when the regulations have settled for 2-3 years. There are other groups of engineers better than him at the constant iterative improvement. This is where his success rate slows down. Newey should be a good bet again for 2014-2016 though. The other negative with RBR is the key men inteam have all only been signed up until 2014 so there is a chance of the dream team breaking up upon Hamilton's arrival.

Finally, Mercedes. I believe Hamilton should go there if he has the chance. Mercedes have invested too much into the team to depart F1, so they are very unlikely to leave. Either Schumacher or Rosberg should be replaced, doesn't matter which. Ross Brawn is the key man, he knows what it takes to win and is was instrumental in mentoring Schumacher for wins. People say Hamilton lacks intelligence, but it is not required, Brawn spoonfed Schumacher in his previous career and asked him to execute some brilliant strategies, which Hamilton can duly do also. Brawn is also building up a very strong engineering team, with 5 previous technical directors under his commandership. Already they have started to have race wins and poles, so have demonstrated they have the leap up from last year. Next year they may be ready to mount a proper WDC challenge, and to be fair they can do it in 2012 already but I don't think they have the drivers to pull it off.

Summary: Hamilton should move because McLaren have given him a competitive car but the team still does not perform.

He should move to Mercedes.


I think McLaren is Lewis's only realistic option. He has a good team-mate who he bettered one year, didn't the next, but with whom he appears to have a good relationship where they continue to get on regardless of whether or not one of them is having a bad time of things. This kind of stability is actually pretty important for Lewis, in my opinion; if you look at last year when there was a bit of turmoil or him his eye wasn't nearly as on the ball.

As a post script, now that Jenson has had a few misfortunes it's good to see the back of the conspiracy nonsense that the team was focussing on JB at the expense of Lewis.


what about williams team....i think williams is the only team that need a driver like hamilton in thei cockpit.

can you james write your opinion about it.


They could't afford him currently


don`t forget that they can use the stockmarket and that if they sign hamilton they will earn money from new sponsorships.

i think is not impossible


If I was Hamilton, I would go to Mercedes (if they are sticking around) and Mercedes should whisper to Schumi 'its time, its over'. (hes suffered enough, all those wrongs from his 1st career....he's payed....let it stop)

Rosberg would be a great team mate for Hamilton imo(both doing a solid and consistant job in cars that in race trim are not as quick as they should be) and again imo the car is almost there it just needs that tiny thing...about 0.5+ of a second. Which I feel Hamilton could bring and Rosberg would chase.

Norbet knows it, maybe Ross Brawn(a man of dubious character) like Schumi see it but don't want to accept it.

But its like when Coultard left RedBull and Vettle joined.

Hamilton is wasted under Whitmarsh


Hit the nail on the head in terms of Schumacher. Ross Brawn has to think of the team and if he can get ahold of Hamilton or even a up and coming Di Resta he needs to take it.

Schumacher has been stonger this year no question but I really think that he would sevre him better to retire if he wins again. Be a great for him in sense he returned after 3 years, took abit of beating critically and won a race. I do not see another championship in him he is too different race to race. Once race looks good the other mistake like in Spain.


We are forgetting that Mercedes is not the All-Conquering Silver Arrows team of old. nor is F1.

In the glory days Alfred Neubauer had an unlimited budget and the full might of Daimler Benz Engineering to draw on.

Today neither are possible. With a complete change in the technical regulations beckoning, one man could just make the difference to Lewis and that's Adrian Newey.

Would anyone bet against Red Bull hitting new ground running faster than their rivals as long as they have a good (Mercedes ?) engine deal.

Surely Mercedes would drop Force India to supply an Austrian Team with two WDCs in the driving seats, one German and the other Lewis ?


I'm sure Alonso would welcome Hamilton at Ferrari - bring on Prost vs Senna again please


If he gets a win on the board in Canada/Silverstone I think he will stay with McLaren; it hinges on whether he feels they are his best bet for championship #2.

If the team continue to fluff their lines in pit stops/strategy he will seek pastures new at Red Bull (with Webber moving to Ferrari).


I cannot understand why people think Ferrari would be a good move for any driver, its a "on the way to the grave yard team" - and its not even the top team.

o.k...you get a ferrai as a company car and , yeah they pay well...o.k they have history but they're still a 'don't let the door hit you on the way out of F1' team.

Schumi,kimi, fisci then you have those who's careers were ruined Ervine, Barricello in my opinion the best seat, the seat I'd be chasing is the merc seat - if Webber is looking elsewhere he needs to through his cap into that pool.


I meant throw...throw is cap into that pool


James, I, also, was not impressed with Latham not keeping Hamilton up to date with what Vettel was doing. So not sure why calling Lewis’ Monaco comments “vocal criticism” is a responsible way of describing things.

I come from an Urban background and get VERY fed up (note if my background was middle class or higher I would probably say “a bit ” not “very” wouldn’t I?) with the constant picking on and commenting on Lewis’ communiqués that seem VERY straight forward to me (again I should probably dissemble that word VERY if I could be half bothered with such time wasting shenanigans).

It’s shows a lack of appreciation or awareness of difference in communication style by people from more diverse backgrounds burgeoning on the institutional, and when compared to Button’s charge to his engineer “to work that one out!!” (having failed to get a pole capable car into Q3) or constant complaints about the car handling always ignored by the media, is beginning to have a sinister overtone in my view.

But even putting communication style aside – you should cut him enough slack, from his growing frustration as a result of all the mishaps coming from the pit, pitstops and inadequate strategy, at least up until the first non-bungled race– innit!!


I think lewis should go to Williams. If he signed a contract with a reasonable salary but with good bonus structure he would still earn a ton of money and Williams team would be inspired to do great things and the sponsors would be queueing round the factory to sign up because the media would go mad for it.


I like to bet on Schumaker (8th title) for Ferrari 2xyear contract post 2012. If he gets this seat...we have 2 years of rock n roll


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