F1 Winter Break
Blundell: Timing is right for Lewis Hamilton to move on
McLaren Honda
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Sep 2012   |  12:00 pm GMT  |  214 comments

Former McLaren driver turned driver manager Mark Blundell suspects that the “timing is right” for Lewis Hamilton to begin a new chapter in his career with Mercedes and predicts that the move will pave the way for the Briton’s management to take ‘Brand Hamilton’ to a whole new level.

Blundell is ideally placed to analyse the switch from both a racing and commercial point of view having driven for McLaren in 1995 and then in more recent time conducted test driver Gary Paffett’s contract negotiations with the team, in addition to the driver’s long-standing relationship with Mercedes in DTM.

Speaking on the newly-released JA on F1 podcast, in which Hamilton’s 2013 move to Mercedes is assessed, Blundell says that the unique Hamilton/McLaren journey had arguably already achieved its stated ambition with their title win in 2008, and that with the relationship becoming more fractious in recent seasons, the driver was probably ready for a change of scene.

“I think at this stage if you look at it and you look at what’s gone on over the last couple of seasons, the fairy-tale was completed when he won the world championship,” he told the podcast.

“The last couple of seasons has seen an up and down Lewis Hamilton as a man and a racing driver. I think now you’re also seeing some small chinks that were coming into that relationship and maybe the timing is right now to leave that nest that has been quite a cosy one for some time – let’s face it, [he was] 13 years old when he first joined McLaren – and move on to a different challenge.

“It really is now about a driver walking into a team and saying ‘I’m one of the best, if not the fastest man in the world in a Formula 1 car, let me see what I can do to develop the team and the car going forward.’”

Asked if he himself would have made the such a switch in the same position, Blundell acknowleged that while on the racing side it’s something of a gamble, for 2013 in particular, on the commercial side “the opportunities and the potential is far bigger”.

“McLaren is probably the most restrictive Formula 1 team in what they allow a Formula 1 driver to do,” he explained.

“Rightly so in many ways because they produce top equipment and the salaries are very, very competitive for the driver. They supply the budget and with high-end, blue chip names associated with them they don’t see why you have to go outside that circle to get extra revenue.

“That doesn’t always fit with everyone and some management companies and I think now they [XIX Entertainment] will try to build the Hamilton brand into something much bigger than what we’ve seen. It will go along with what they’ve done with Andy Murrary, with David Beckham, and we’ve seen the end product on that kind of thing.

“But is that going to make him any faster? Is that going to make him win any more grands prix? Probably not. Does that secure his long-term future? Probably so, depending on how much of that he really needed given I imagine he’s quite a wealthy young man.”

With the arrival of the highly-rated Sergio Perez, and the opportunities now present to tap into the American market for McLaren, Blundell reckons there is a flip side to Hamilton’s departure too for the team, particularly as the relationship with its current star isn’t what it once was.

“It’s difficult to quantity [the negative impact],” he said. “They’ve had great times, they’ve won world championships together, they’ve won many grand prix together. There’s the possibility of saying there’s no loss – there’s everything to gain again for McLaren with a new driver like Perez coming into the fold.

“It’s a loss on the commercial side. Lewis is a big name, a previous world champion with the possibility of getting very close to that again for this season. But it’s all about synergy and there’s an area of the chemistry that we have seen recently that is just missing some vital ingredients and I think Lewis’s move has really capped it all off.”

To listen to the full interview with Mark and more insight on Hamilton’s Mercedes move, in addition to pieces with Marussia’s Graeme Lowdon and on the late, great Prof Sid Watkins, then make sure you check out the October edition of the JA on F1 podcast, available to download now.
Visit iTunes or download it directly to your computer here.


Featured Video
Sign up for Jenson’s Triathlon today!
Featured News in mclaren
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I never thought I'd say this but for once I have to agree with Blundell.

Neither party is a loser here and it is onwards and upwards for both. There has been too much negativity around this story and its nice to see a positive spin on it.


I agree too. This year McLAren have had, in balance, the fastest car and, through absolutely no fault of his own, Lewis will not win the title. If he cannot win the wdc with McLaren when they have the fastest car when will he? Come on all you doubters of this move,MCLAREN WIN RACES NOT CHAMPIONSHIPS!


Interesting that Ron Dennis recently said how McLaren's main objective is actually to win races with championships coming 2nd in terms of priority.


That is a complete disconnect between the team and the drivers who want to win championships. Typical McLaren arrogance. Who wants to race long term for a team where the priority is not winning championships?

Also, if this is their strategy - then they are succedding brilliantly!!


I think Hamilton can win with Mercedes, Rosberg did it once, maybe Hamilton can do it twice or three times, that's enough.


In last two decades McLaren has won three DC and one CC. In same period, Ferrari has won six DC and eight CC, Williams has won four DC and five CC, Renault two DC and two CC, Red Bull two DC and two CC, Benetton has won two DC and one CC. In other words McLaren are third or fourth best (depends if you count Renault and Benetton as same team) team in twenty years period and might actually be fifth if Red Bull wins this year, this is hard facts.

So what’s gambling here for Lewis Hamilton really, facts suggest that he’s isn’t going to win with McLaren as three, four or five teams are better?!

In beginning I thought that Whitmars was right when he was saying that both McLaren and Hamilton has no better options but now I feel actually that Mercedes could be better choice and McLaren is looser here. Button / Perez feels far from most exiting pairing in Formula one. I was never impressed by Button, he as lost to several of his teammates, including Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella (who both has lost to other teammates), he won the title when he had superior car and no it’s not going to rain for twenty races and if it was I would stil put my money on Hamilton, Vettel or Alonso before him. I’m not even impressed over his Canadian win last year, this was a “gamble race” he won it so did Olivier Panis in Monaco 1996.

Much you can say about Lewis Hamilton, but he is one of three drivers in Formula one that has a “extra level”. He isn’t that charming guy we all thought he was, he must learn to be more diplomatic and control his feeling towards team when things do not go his way but talent and raw speed he has. So from three drivers that stand out McLaren had two and the third is likely go to Ferrari in 2014. As James wrote some days ago there aren’t any new Vettels, Hamiltons or Alonsos in "the pipe" for now!

The risk with Mercedes could be that they pull out from Formula one, depending on what Greece (and Spain) might do to Europe’s economy. Don’t forget 2008, with Honda, Toyota and BMW leaving Formula one. McLaren in other hand is mainly Formula one team and they are not leaving any time soon.

I can’t see that McLaren is winner here and I can’t see them winning next year.


You know, you mention Mclaren's record over the last 20 years. It's apparent you didn't choose 30 years because in that 10 year period Mclaren won 6 WD championships alone. If you really want to analyze data, you should have included that. Hilarious.

Harrison Vrbanjac

I know that McLaren is second or third (Williams has more WCC) best team overall. It is great team but they haven’t delivered. Do you really think that two decades is a too short period? They must ask them selfs why they are not winning, despite having one of highest budgets and best drivers. If you look at last ten years they have more wins then the most, but yet they are fifth!!!! best team after, Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and Brawn if you count the titles. I’m sorry but my expectations are higher then that.

Harrison Vrbanjac

I know that McLaren is second or third (Williams has more WCC) best team overall. It is great team but they haven’t delivered. Do you really think that two decades is a too short period? They must ask them self why they are not winning, despite having one of highest budgets and best drivers. If you look at last ten years they have more wins then the most, but yet they are fifth!!!! best team after, Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and Brawn if you count the titles. I’m sorry but my expectations are higher then that.


You have to make a cut-off somewhere, saying McLaren won titles in the 80s doesn't exactly mean much for the competitive landscape today. I'd argue the most relevant cut-off is either the end of the Hakkinen/Coulthard partnership or the end of the Schumacher era of dominance; in either case McLaren have only won the championship once in what I'd call "recent F1".


Just reminding you that Lewis lost to Button last year. The first time any team mate has ever beaten Lewis and that would include the illustrious Alonso.


To be fair though, Fernando finished level on points with Lewis (why does everyone forget that?) and the team were doing all in their powers to slow the Spanaird down from the mid-season onwards.


I knew that, but that fact alone still needs to be put into perspective, Button went to Lewis's team where Lewis had been (quite possibly) favoured over Alonso. So for Button to pull off that feat deserves acknowledgement. I also believe that Button's performance against Lewis may well have been a subconscious nudge for Lewis, who had not really had a team mate beat him before.

Of course all drivers are allowed an off year and that was certainly the case for Hamilton last year to a degree. Personally I think Lewis lost his happy place and it wasn't getting any easier.

I don't understand this Whitmarsh Button thing? Can someone please explain?


Lewis beat Alonso fair and square.

If they'd be first and second in the championship do you think Alonso would walk around and say he is the champ because he had the same amount of points?

Lewis was declared second due to the tiebreakers. Most wins, if ties most seconds etc.


And what does everybody think Whitmarsh has been doing for Button the last 3 years.


You have an interesting point about McLaren's actual success but the past means nothing when next season starts. Red bull had won nothing 3 years ago.


Firstly, you cannot compare McLaren to the other teams and blithely ignore the fact that in the same period the Brackley team behind Mercedes (nee Brawn, nee Honda, nee BAR, nee Tyrell) have won the double ONCE, on the back of 'that lucky championship' which you destroyed Button for.

Secondly, Mercedes aren't going to pull out - part of the reason for the delay in the announcement was the company board agreeing to the Concorde Agreement until 2020.


I think it was signing Lewis that may have tipped the balance to keep Mercedes Benz the car company in F1.

Ecclestone upset them a lot by being dismissive of their contribution to F1 earlier this year, and they clearly have stated they are not happy with being involved with Mr E following the bribery conviction of Gibkowsky.

It may still be there are indictments for Ecclestone to face and Mercedes Benz may yet have the last laugh.

Yet to offer to contract with Lewis for the vast sums involved means the Brackley team had to have the backing of the main board of Mercedes Benz for at least 3 years.

It looks like the Lewis coup may well have been the deciding factor that kept Mercedes as a works team and not Brawn F1 mark 2. http://wp.me/p2HWOP-5F


Wouldn't XIX ensure the financial ability to pay and have separate guarantees with Daimler(legal ones)?


Don't forget that the F1 operation will be a separate legla entity so unless Daimler 9parent of Mercedes) has not given a parent company guarantee they can still easily withdraw support from the F1 operation with impunity as the contractual liabilities under the Concorde agreement and Lewis' contracts are with the F1 company and it alone.


The point is that McLaren is almost every year a title-contender but they usually don't win. In last ten years they are fifth! best team after Mercedes, how is that possible? How can Brawn with one "lucky" season beat them over ten years period?

McLaren must ask them selfs why drivers is leaving them! Montoya, Räikkönen, Alonso and now Hamilton, are they all wrong? It must be space here for self criticism.

I understand that Hamilton is taking chance with Mercedes.


"It must be space here for self criticism."

See, that's where you're wrong, Harrison. The Hamilton "Haters" cannot even consider that McLaren the team might have improvable-"issues"....


Title contender every year, yes. So why have they so few titles? I'll tell you why, they have (or soon had) one driver who was fast but erratic and another who's very car sensistive to car setup. They also preferred Kimi to winning the 2008 title rather than supporting Fernando. 2008 was a Mclaren year. 2010 would have seen another championship had Lewis kept it on the road and not hit people as well, because that years RBR was incredibly fragile and kept breaking down.

It's nice and easy to always blame the team, but the drivers have to take a large percentage of the blame for McLarens failure to win the big prizes. The cars they produce (bar the first 7 races of 2009) have proven to be pretty awesome really. I'd actually suggest they've had the most consistent car in the sport in the last 5 years or so.


With regards to Button being beaten by his team mates, Button finished ahead of Hamilton last year. That fact itself somewhat nullifies your argument.


You are right, but we can ageee on that Hamilton had worst season ever by far and had some privat issues as well? Button had a "good" season and beat Hamiltons worst season ever by 45 point or so? That says more about what we expect from Hamilton then how great Button was.


I'd point out that Lewis, Alonso and Vettel have all had seasons where they are the defined number one driver and given absolute preference over their team mate. Jenson won in a Brawn on equal footing with ruebens and has more or less equalled Lewis at mclaren in points and podiums over their partnership seasons so far.

Clearly button fails miserably against Hamilton on qualifying pace but it'll be interesting to see if button is given preferential treatment over Perez next year and if it helps him at all.


One of Three, I'd like to throw Kimi Raikkonens name into that group, two years out and currently third in the standings, surely would have won a race if the teams strategy had been better. Fastest over a lap in the whole field.


Huh? Tres bizarre. How many times has Grosjean beaten Kimi in qualifying this season? Can't imagine what Hamilton or Vettel would do to him if they were in the same team, given that a young whipper-snapper is consistently running him around.


Sebastian Vettel has the most fastest laps this year (3) followed by Kim R & Nico R (2 each).


I'm a big Kimi fan and have been really impressed with his comeback, but his main failure to win a race has been leaving himself too much to do on raceday by being outqualified by Grosjean.


"Fastest over a lap in the whole field."

Really? How many pole possitions has KR this season? And that Lotus isn't bad.

I am pretty sure Grosjean beats Kimi this season in qualy statistics..so I would be carefull if I were you when making statements like that.


You are absolutely right!


I think you're being a bit harsh on Jenson, he was outperformed by Schumacher and Fisichella 10 years ago and has come on a lot since then.

And obviously the Brawn was a good car, but he wasn't handed all the wins on a plate. He had to make key overtakes on Vettel and Hamilton in Bahrain, he pulled out great qualifying laps under pressure in Spain and Monaco to beat Vettel, and he pressured Vettel into a mistake in Turkey. He made heavy weather of it after that I agree.


Of course he was good, no question, he beat Barrichello in the same car. I just don't think that he is on same level as Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel or Räikkönen for that matter. He can be on that level but not often enough.


No other team can boast the clinical efficiency of McLarens engineering (both factory and mindset). It is the fastidious discipline in McLarens approach to technology that invites so many admirers. Their only chink is in converting brilliant machines into WDC's and CC's.

...Plus McLaren is British.


Mark my Words: Next year expect Mercedes to pull off win which otherwise were deemed impossible... such is the measure of talent called Lewis Hamilton.

This is coming from a Kimi fan and a one who holds great admiration for the pure speed of Lewis Hamilton.


What would you regard as impossible? Do either of Alonso's wins in Malaysia or Valencia rate on this scale?

The improbable results tend to require a car with certain qualities on the day. In recent years the McLaren has tended to be good in the wet, but that is not really apparent this year. Red Bull had great cars in the rain from 2007 to 2009, but changed some set up characteristics for 2010 that reduced this edge. No matter how good the driver, and they can still star in a wet race, it is impossible to do a Hamilton-Silverstone 2008 performance in a current Mercedes as it is only okay in the rain.

The 2013 Mercedes could be very different in its tyre management to the 2012 car, but in general it is difficult to have strategic options when you are tyre limited. For example, a stunning qualifying lap/good start, and then a decision to not stop under a safety car to get track position, stop one less time, etc is something that Hamilton could pull off given what he did in Barcelona this year. I doubt it would be possible to work in a Mercedes.

McLaren in Hamilton's time have tended to have cars and race strategies that allowed Hamilton to move forward in the race. Compared to Alonso and Kovalainen in particular, Hamilton would regularly qualify with less fuel and Kovalainen would have the long game strategy. The aerodynamic philosophy that McLaren has seems to allow the cars to follow other cars quite well - a characteristic Button noted about the Brawn as well. The current Mercedes to me shows less of these characteristics - the drivers would play some part - so it might be harder for Hamilton to shine as a racing driver if the last three years of Mercedes cars - which tend to fade in races, or require extra stops.

I rate Hamilton as one of the top three drivers along with Vettel and Alonso - nothing profound there. If I was going to pick a driver for qualifying, I'd pick Vettel over Hamilton, and I think Hamilton has more races where he gets something wrong in tyre management than either Alonso or Vettel (if only for a stint in some races). He generally has the best sense of how to overtake in the field, although his choices in defending can be a bit dubious.

I guess what I'm getting to is that, it is not up to Hamilton as to whether an improbably win occurs, but the Mercedes design team. It is not so much about adding downforce to the car but strategic flexibility to the aerodynamic design and the car's tyre usage.




Fantastic Analysis I must say. And yes I would rate Alonso's drives this year as pulling up the impossible, his Valencia win and his Germany win was to note. Vetel's win at Spa last year with high camber angles and his Abu Dhabi 2010 were brilliant way beyond his age.

Having said that, according to me there are only three all terrain white knucklers in Formula one:

1. Kimi Raikkonen

2. Lewis Hamilton

3. Michael Schumacher

When I say All terrain, I mean with or without DRS and KERS. But above three are flawed in the sense of they are prone to mistakes.

However, there are drivers who are not as white knuckling quick as the above three but keep mistakes to the minimum to nil.

1. Alonso

2. Vetel

3. Perez

In the Pirelli era of racing with DRS and KERS the second set are prevailing over the first while the first set of drivers have their lethal initiative taken away from them and have been neutralised.

Its just the way things are I guess.


I think Kimi has been a revelation, his return was meticulously planned out. First half he was rather risk averse acclimatisation and consolidation, while second half he designated for attack. His risk averse move on Vetel in Bahrain was striking example of which after blasting past the field with his move on Massa and Webber being brilliantly set up. From and Germany Kimi was a revelation, he unleashed his spine-chilling drive there, all his overtakes were done without DRS and KERS, well crafted moves on Di-Riesta, Opportunistic move on Hulkenberg and a brilliant move on Schumacher were striking examples of which. In Hungary, his blast through the field left everyone in awe and his ruthless block on his teammate asserted the fact that he is taking no prisoners. His moves on Schumacher through Eau-Rouge was sublime, and just like Vetel he did overtake into the Bus Stop.

Monza was not just a bad race for Kimi but for all Renault powered cars, still he was the highest Renault powered finisher.

This year every race Kimi has races was nothing short of spectacular. Yes, no wins, but is he entirely to be blamed for it? No, I think Lotus must share equal blame of his no-wins situation, they have made some catastrophic strategic blunders. Lotus is a beautiful car, but is it as good as Mclaren or Redbull? on certain stages of a race it is and I still feel World Champion this year will not be Renault Powered Driver, the power differential is a little too much when it is compared to Mercedes or Ferrari powered cars.

I am not taking anything from Vetel, the guy is good, precise, daring when it is required, intelligent, but when classifying him as a good overtaker in the league of Kimi, Shuey, Hamilton or even Kobayashi or even his teammate Webber would not be accurate. There is a large loom of suspicion lies over his head in this regard, his moves on Button in Spa year before last and on Webber in Istanbul only asserts the fact. Then again he becomes an Enigma when you consider his moves on Alonso at Monza last year and his moves in Spa this year. So Vetel is undeinably intelligent but is he an all terrain white knuckler? Ummmm' I think he is not, he is built differently I suppose, rather a unique composite.


To be fair to Perez, he hasn't driven in any other era, so he can only drive with what he's got. Still outright qualifying pace is something he's rarely demonstrated.

As far as all terrain white knucklers - a wonderful phrase - I'll offer up the following rebuttal for Vettel and Alonso. Both are excellent in the wet, which covers off one of the terrains. We've seen both of them willing to get on the grass at Monza. They both have been successful in the pre-DRS/KERS/Pirelli era. Alonso beat both Schumacher and Raikkonen to championships in slower but more reliable cars. You could argue that this comes down to a more calculating mindset. Fernando also hasn't had quite the career moment of Kimi at Suzuka in 2005.

In terms of overtaking skills, I think Hamilton is on the top of the list. Despite Kimi's Suzuka moment, these days I'm more inclined to Vettel in my top three. His efforts in Spa this year through Blanchimont to the bus stop were unmatched, and had nothing to do with KERS or DRS.




I think I'd go along with your analysis of the top three, you don't mention Alonso is the strongest in the race, but I guess that is Implied


Hi James,

Re Alonso, sort of. In the back of my mind are your comments from the engineers who analyse the data and their conclusions re Alonso. In 2010 and 2011 I feel that Vettel's reputation has hurt by the high downforce nature of the car as that increased tyre degradation so he always had to manage races by getting the first pitstop with a bit of a margin.

This year when the Red Bull has suited Webber more the gap in the races has been as big or larger than last year. In the two races Webber won, Vettel made up a lot of ground, in the UK with a slightly damaged wing. Even when apparently overdriving in Germany he still looked after his tyres better than the faster McLaren.

It is aided by high downforce, but to me Vettel has been one of the most impressive overtakers this year. His moves into the Bus Stop at Spa and Rosberg in Melbourne come to mind.

So compared to a very high benchmark with Alonso, I think Vettel is close enough that I wouldn't make an absolute call on race performance. There are additional factors in terms of car set up (Webber drops hints that Vettel regularly follows his lead, but I've not heard anything from the team), and the ability to motivate the team that are very difficult to judge from my lounge, but would contribute to the overall value to the team.

I'll certainly be interested in any info that you have at the end of the season on the team data analysts' driver of the year. An interesting side line would be the Perez vs di Resta vs Hulkenburg comparisons.




Thanks for that. I agree on your last point.

Engineers were amazed by Perez pace on prime and option in Monza and that clearly came at a great time for his career momentum


+1 but go iceman too 🙂


James, do you think there's a pattern of dissatisfied McLaren drivers leaving the team?

I recall Alonso once remarking that he and others (presumably he meant Montoya and Raikkonen) had left with a similar experience.

Surely its not universal since others like Hakkinen, DC, and perhaps Button now seem content or better - and they can still attract drivers like Perez. I just wondered whether McLaren, for too many, seems a less-than-happy place to be?


As others have pointed out, most people who leave any job are dissatisfied one way or another.

Some numbers often help shed some light on a question - does McLaren have trouble holding on to drivers? So looking arbitrarily at the last 20 years, I totted up the average driver tenure for the current top 8 teams over that period. Replacement drivers who did only 1 or 2 races are not counted, and if a driver left and returned it counts as two separate tenures.

Ferrari: 4.4 years

McLaren: 3.7 years

BAR/Honda/Brawn/Mercedes: 3.3 years

Stewart/Jaguar/Red Bull: 2.4 years

Williams: 2.2 years

Benetton/Renault/Lotus: 1.9 years

Jordan/Midland/Spyker/Force India: 1.8 years

Sauber: 1.7 years

[Random text to convince WordPress I haven't already said this, because although I have, it ignored me the first and second times]


James - some info on the posting problem I had here for your IT people: I tried to post this twice and it failed both times, the third time I switched to a different email address and it succeeded.


They were in spam they are live now


Thanks. It's Akismet.


To be honest though button left the other way - ditching Mercedes to go to mclaren - in a weird way Hamilton is going to buttons car (Schumacher deal only done when brawn lost button to partner rosberg).

Button was criticized for leaving the team that gave him his WDC and trying to partner Lewis. Now Lewis has left presumably as much for the 'challenge' (though rosberg doesn't seem to hold much threat).


Looking back over the last 20-odd years...

Prost left McLaren for Ferrari because he didn't want to race with Senna.

Senna left McLaren for Williams because they had dominated the previous years and McLaren had uncompetitive engines.

Montoya left McLaren because he was bored with F1

Raikonnen left McLaren for Ferrari to replace Schumacher. He was tempted across with $51M per annum.

Alonso's fate was pretty much sealed when he tried to blackmail Ron Dennis.


Not sure if we can place DC in the "left on good terms" camp. I believe, just from memory - I could be wrong - that he has criticized Ron Dennis's management style in the past. Something along the lines of Dennis only talking to or acknowledging Hakkinen in driver meetings. Think it was in his bio, but I'm not 100% on that.


DC isnt very content if you read his book, neither was prost.


Alonso isn't exactly an unbiased source, his departure from McLaren was different from all the others.

However, there is a pattern of top drivers moving on since the golden age of Hakkinen and Coulthard. Since then only Button has settled into the team and not felt the need to move on somewhere else when their contract expired.


You may want to find some interviews with DC about his time at Mclaren. He was paid very well, won races but he knew that either Mika or Kimi was the favoured son.

In fact he stayed there until Mclaren forced him out. probably because he knew he wouldn't move into a better situation to win.


I get it that you do not like McLaren.

One could say the same about other teams eg Ferrari has been a "less-than-happy" place to be at various times, except that they have the resources to make huge pays off to keep drivers quiet. Raikonnen was treated badly but was paid handsomely for his trouble; Prost who was sacked for being outspoken and more recently Barrichello has made various comments about his experiences within the team. Will Massa be another addition?


It's not necessarily that McLaren treat their drivers badly, it's that they can't seem to keep hold of them. Raikkonen and Prost were sacked by Ferrari sure, but Raikkonen, Montoya, Hamilton and (to a more mutual extent) Alonso all just had enough and moved on from McLaren once their contract expired.


Just to respond to all the comments, Alonso left McLaren by mutual consent, as I said - they didn't want him but, tellingly, he didn't want to stay either.


Alonso had a 2 year deal but was fired by Ron.

Made some money though.


Alonso negotiated the end of his contract with McLaren with a clause forcing Alonso to remain silent about the events in the team during that season. Too bad, the cat in the bag ... forever?


I believe Alonso did not leave McL of his own accord,


Drivers generally do not leave teams happily.

Hakkinen left a broken man after yet another engine failure (among a litany) left him weeping by the side of the circuit. He lost that championship to Schumi due only to car failures.

David Coulthard does not have happy tales either, you should hear him speak of the favouritsm toward Mika Hakkinen.


I'm no Schumacher fan but he won the 2000 title comfortably enough that even with the engine failure I assume you're referring to (Indy 2000) he would have won the title anyway.

And Mika was left crying at the side of the road in Monza 1999, when he spun off while comfortably in the lead, it wasn't a mechanical failure.


+1. Yes, I picked that up as well! But the description of Mika weeping made me smile. I recall he blew his nose in his mask.


DC was not content at Mclaren he spent years envying the special relationship between Ron and Mika.


It's weird. In McLaren there tends to be two different situations.

There's the situation where one is apparently favoured and, as you would expect, all hell breaks loose (Prost/Senna, Hamilton/Alonso).

Then there's the more bazaar situation where one driver is apparently favoured but those drivers still form close bonds, closer than most team mate pairings (Coulthard/Mikka, Hamilton/Kovalinen)


Amazes me to hear people talk about Lewis' 'marketabilit'y. To those in the know, this 'marketability' peaked a couple of years ago. And it is unlikely to improve until he wins the WDC again.

On the other hand, he can do much to support Brand Beckham and this is, in fact, the strategy of XIX management.

Let's see.


In principle I agree, but Mercedes will allow him to exploit his 'marketability' in a way McLaren never would - never could, in fact.


Brand Lewis appears to be the reason Mercedes Benz the car manufacturer is still in F1. http://wp.me/p2HWOP-5F

The Brackley based team could not afford Lewis without their backing for the term of his contract and Mercedes Benz have consistently refused to commit to f1 all year.

Suddenly the week Lewis enrols, they put their signature to Concorde even following Mr E's disparaging comments about Mercedes F1 historic achievements earlier this year - and even after their public denouncement of Mr E's involvement in the Gibkowsky case.


Brand Lewis, or Hamilton the driver and the performance he is expected to bring? I might have missed something, but I'm not expecting Hamilton's brand to bring any extra money to Stuttgart, Brackley or Brixworth unless Simon Fuller lives in any of these places.


I'm very sceptical about all the grand plans to build the brand. (It seems that Schumacher's strategy of winning lots of titles worked just fine.)

Being a Lewis and McLaren fan, it's sad to see them part, but I agree with Mark Blundell. The relationship has probably run its course. If nothing else, it will be good for Lewis's character to operate in a team which (since the BAR days) has essentially been a midfield team. A well funded and ambitious team, but midfield nevertheless. Even with Mercedes backing, Jenson couldn't leave soon enough when he got his chance.


I don't understand all this brand thing.people need to remember that if Hamilton is not winning then the brand thing will not happen.So the argument that he went to Mercedes to develop a global brand but he does not expect to win races or championships is flawed.I think Lewis and his management understand that to be a successful brand he has to be a successful racing driver.


I think the 'Brand Lewis' is different from the Danica and Beckham examples given here for two reasons: 1. Danica is utterly unique and 2. Beckham had a lot more success than Lewis has right now. I think Lewis should have won in 2007 (a DNF in China due to indecision about tiers) and again in 2010 (when he crashed out to DNF in 3 races all on his own when 4th place in each would have brought him the title).

At this stage Tripletg is right and if Merc fail to produce a winner and Lewis is racing for 5th for the next 3 years this will not be 'brand Lewis' building.

Fact is right now Lewis and McLaren are winning and he has walked away from that. I simply can't imagine Ayrton Senna would have made this move...


Not always:-) He can still be a Danone, McDonald, Sprite or Blackberry:-)


I'm not so sure, look at what XIX have done with David Beckham, particularly since he left Man U and went to the USA via Europe.

In that time his sporting achievements have not been anything like as good as they were in his Man U heydays but his profile and earning potential has increased it seems.

Winning the F1 world championship is a very hard task, it seems that you not only need that years best car but also a fair bit of luck. Just being the "fastest driver in F1" is not enough. Taking that into consideration, I feel that Lewis has made the right move for him.

He will earn fortunes over and above his Merc salary, he may win a F1 drivers championship, as he may have, if he had stayed at McLaren.

The main thing being that he will come out of this a few years down the line around twice as well off as he would have been if he had stayed put.


Not quite. The bulk of the work on 'brand Beckham' was done by Tony Stephens, XIX came in well after he had moved to Real Madrid



So they have a history of taking their clients from great teams to lesser ones!


What a good read that is. 15% is a sizeable slice, with those type of numbers agents would be very keen for most money and not much else.


Thank you james.


I know what you are saying but when you look at what they have done with David Beckham's profile, after he left Man U to play in Europe and worse still in the USA.

Does that not show that a good PR firm behind you can even raise your profile and money earning potential, when your best sporting days have gone?


I think Danica Patrick's career arc demonstrates that being a brand can work without much winning of races let alone winning of championships. She is without a doubt a talented driver, but her media coverage as well as endorsements have thus far exceeded what her performance on the track has shown. Having said that, Hamilton will now be associated with Mercedes, which has a presence outside of Formula One. Success with that team would result in greater exposure for him in say, the U.S., a good market for the automobile company but less so for the F1 team. Twenty wins and a driver's championship is not insignificant, but apparently the potential for more, at least in someone's mind, remains at Mercedes rather than McLaren.


With all due respect Lewis ain't no Danica in the looks department 🙂


Try Dale Earnhardt Jnr then... biggest name in NASCAR with the best car but really struggles for results.


Completely agree.


I to think it's the right thing for Hamilton to make the move, but the fact is, none of us know whether it's the right move in terms of future WDC's.

Who would've figured that pre-Singapore Maldonado and Vettel would be on the same amount of wins?!

Before the start of the season who would have though Sauber will be a better seat to be in than a Mercedes and that McLaren would suffer terrible reliability.

Followng the opening race in Aus who would've figured Alonso would lead the championship and that Butoon wouldn't even feature in the standings. Other than mathematical of course.

Point is, we simply don' know what's going to happen next year nevermind the next three years. Neither does Lewis, Brawn, Perez, Dennis, Allen, Lauda, Houdini, etc, etc. Hamilton has to take a gamble - WHETHER HE STAYS OR GOES.

Hats off (and I'm not a fan!) for taking the leap. To be honest I'm just hoping that Ferrari won't give Massa another season. Rather gamble on a rookie or one of the one year olds.


This post makes good sense. Besides, it gives us something to talk about in between races. And, makes us eager for 2013 to see whether Lewis has made a terrible mistake.


Could not agree more.

Reminds me of the situation when Alonso left McLaren, basically he could go to any team he wanted (except of course Ferrari and McLaren ), having offers from red Bull, Honda, Toyota, BMW and Renault. That winter, in Spain, the question "where will Alonso go" was on the news days in day out and many could not believe that he could be considering going to a midfield team as Red Bull was by then. He had to take a big gamble and finally he went for what apparently was a safe bet going back to Renault. That was a bad choice, and spent 2 years with bad cars, fighting to be on Q3 and grab some points. But seeing things in perspective it was a good thing, making him a stronger driver that before. So, given that nothing can guarantee future WCs, I guess it would be good for Lewis anyway.


A very balanced view from him. All said it looks that Mclaren are the looser in this silly season where the star power of Hamilton is no longer with them and Sergio is yet to become a star. I have really supported Mclaren from Mika Hakkinen days and was very sad at this announcement. I am sure Lewis would have stayed back had they sacked Martin Whitmarsh and brought in a better team manager (Even Sam Micheal looks good for the job). Also the biggest looser appears to be Paul Di Reista with both the seats targeted by him gone.


Good God, make Sam Michael the team principal!?!? The man couldn't organise a p*ss-up in a brewery.


Yep just another wasted salary at Mclaren


So you blame him for the pit stop blunders but not give credit for the record ones? If you look at the comments made by the Williams drivers this year and Caterham, anyone with a Cosworth is racing at a disadvantage. Take a look a Silverstone last year and you get an idea how much Williams were compromised without exhaust blowing of any form as Cosworth couldn't do it. If you consider the struggles of the three new teams, organising even a midfield F1 team is rather more complex than running a brewery, let alone getting a drink.

Yes Nico Rosberg reckons that Ross Brawn is a step up, but people can learn and at the moment Martin Whitmarsh has suggested that Sam Michael is his most likely replacement when the time comes.


If the goal is to win races and championships, it's a mistake. McLaren is rare: it is consistently at the top, year-in and year-out.

If the goal is to make a ton of cash and be a commercial property, then Mercedes is the way to go.

One data point: if he could do it over again, would Damon take the big-money Arrows offer, or the incentive-laden McLaren offer?

There's no substitute for winning.


The point you make about Damon Hill is a good one. Damon got the feeling that, for all Ron Dennis's posturing, he didn't actually want him to drive for the team, just wanted to give the impression that he had negotiated fairly with him. RD, it seems, wanted it to appear that it was Damon who scuppered the deal. I have a nagging suspicion that this is what's happened with Lewis. Mclaren didn't outwardly give the impression that they really wanted him to stay.


I have more respect for Damon Hill for going to Arrows and turning them from tail-enders into almost winners within a season.

In 1998, Jordan started off so poorly, yet by the British GP, they were transformed culminating in wins. Something Jordan carried forward into 1999 with Frentzen. Again huge technical input from the ex Williams test driver.

Damon proved himself in other teams. Something you could never throw at Hakkinen. He needed Newey's dominant cars and DC giving up 2 GP wins for him to prove anything.

You have to ask also, would Villeneuve have left Williams and moved to BAR?

Would Fittipaldi have left Mclaren and moved to his brothers team in the late 70's.

Both of these guys famously self destroyed their careers.

In fact, the similarities between Villeneuve and Hamilton is quite startling.

Both joined World Championship winning teams.

Both had huge mileage pre season testing and came in and startled from their first race.

Both nearly won the Championship in their first season.

Both won 4 races in their debut season.

Both would go on to win the WDC in their 2nd season.

I'm not even comparing the two, JV whilst talented is not on Hamilton's level.

But they both moved to a Brackley based squad, with huge manufacturer support behind them.

I hope it works out for Hamilton, I really do. I hope he shows Rosberg up for the over hyped individual he is.

If it all goes wrong, he'll still be young enough to move to another team.

Personally, I think this is when Lewis becomes a man. He's left his father behind, he's left his team behind and he's branching out.


I would have thought Lewis would have a performance clause which allows him to terminate prematurely if the car doesn't perform. I know Vettel has one.


Good point however I'd ask you to consider a flipside: at the end of 1995 when Schumacher joined Ferrari, how many people believed he'd win 5 world championships with the Scuderia?


Well then again in '95 it was Ferrari.The team which had been in the sport forever and which had just forgotten how to win.

To compare that to the situation now - where is the pedigree?Merc GP is ex Brawn which is ex Honda which is ex BAR.Except for what Sir Jackie Stewart did many many many moons ago,where is the pedigree?


"take ‘Brand Hamilton’ to a whole new level."

Wishful thinking. Outside of the UK Hamilton's appeal isn't that great. Right now he's one of several driver's who have a WC, so he's not unique and he has a long way to catch Schumacher.


Lewis may not be the most popular (well liked) driver but he is the most famous (well known) F1 driver at the moment.


Where did you get that? In most countries, Lewis is a demigod, Lewis is only unpopular in the UK tabloids.


He can't compete with footballers and he's almost unknown in NA where the NASCAR drivers dominate. He's short and going bald. Not exactly what one thinks of when you use the word "demigod"


You should go to Asia! The fans are completely besotted by him! I was staying at the Hilton Shanghai in 2011 for the Chinese GP as were the team (co sponsor. whilst waiting for my ride to the GP Hamilton comes out of the hotel to be swarmed by Chinese fans. Button leaves - no -one waiting for him!!


Bald? I think shaving your hair short is different to going bald? And aren't 90% of drivers short? Motor racing doesn't tend to attract basketball giants...

I was actually surprised at some of the level of recognition Hamilton got in my travels. Still wasn't on a par with Schumacher but I suppose Schumacher is at his active limit while Lewis has a decade or so ahead of him to develop his 'brand'.


Looking back, Hamilton hasn't appeared to be that happy at McLaren for 12 months or so. Is it a case that they had just had enough of each other or is there something in the fact that, on several occaisions, Button was more than a match for him.

I doubt Hamilton personally decided to move for money. Whether you earn 15 or 20 million a year, it's a little bit irrelevant at that level, although his management company would take a different view and a bigger cut.

The other odd thing with Hamilton is that some of the other top teams don't seem interested in him ie. Ferrari and Red Bull.

No-one can dispute Hamilton's pace, but is there something about him that Horner etc aren't keen on. You would think Hamilton would serve Ferrari much better than Massa but I guess Alonso veteod that.


James - do we know for sure that Alonso has vetoed Hamilton at Ferrari? As I don't see why he would need to and he himself has previously said there's no-one active he'd veto.

In my view, Hamilton could score more wins that Alonso per year but the only team he might beat him in over a season is McLaren if Ron Dennis was still in charge.


You are dreaming. Button is in no way a match for Hamilton. Do u think Mercedes would've offered the same contract to Button? I don't think so. Button is over-hyped and the only reason he beat Lewis last year was because of Hamilton's off track problems. The truth is Button will never be considered one of the top 3 drivers in f1.



Ummm...Check the stats pal, not just your blind belief and the Hamilton hype.

Button is indeed a match for Hamilton - almost to the single point!

If matching someone on points - you know, the little things by which drivers are awarded and WDC's won - isn't 'matching' them, then I really don't know what is.

"...Button is over-hyped..."


'Button is entering the lions den'

'Hamilton will end Button's career'

'Hamilton is the best driver in F1, Button is a midfield driver at best'

'Button is useless unless the car is perfect, but Hamilton can win the WDC in any car'

52 races together

JB = 7 wins and 603 points

LH = 9 wins and 609 points

Who is over hyped??

Classic Hamilton fanboy comment there Michael, well done!



Re your last post Michael - what's your level of certainty about Perez beating Button next year? More or less certain than that Hamilton would end Button's career when they went up against each other in the same team?


I tend to not but that "the only reason he beat Lewis last year was because of Hamilton’s off track problems". Everyone has problems at personal level, it you let that affect your performance, then you cannot be considered a top level driver.


And JR hasn't mentioned the fact that whilst Hamilton was bringing his private life into the public domain and not dealing with it, Alonso was separating from his wife of 5 years, amicably but divorcing all the same. No-one would have guessed on the outside, no histrionics and no excuses. Quite a comparison to make really.


We'll see how good Button is next year. I fully expect Perez to beat him. He's younger and he's faster. I wonder what JB's excuse is going to be? The balance is off? No grip? He is going to get exposed. I can't wait for next year.


All this about him falling out with the woking outfit I think is really unfounded. According to Niki Lauda, Lewis was comfortable at McLaren and could see a fututre with the team. Lauda had to convince Hamilton the move to Mercedes would be a bigger and better challlenge. Apparently the money is about the same and this was not a factor. Also mch has been made of Lewis's current management being more money than sport-driven, yet Andy Murray recently won his first grand slam and an olympic medal under XIX, so watch this space. Lauda also thinks Lewis is the best driver in F1. I agree with him.

It is a risky move, yes, but a brave and bold one.


Andy Murray's Tennis success was a result of him changing his coach and his training style. XIX just market him and take a cut for the privilege.


The point of Murray's relationship with XIX is that it allowed him to focus 100% on his tennis, and if he wanted to, choose his own coach. Which he did. With excellent results.

Same opportunity for Lewis.


I do not agree with Lauda on Hamilton being the best in F1


I think one might wish to distinguish between:

"Lauda says Hamilton is best in F1" (Wow. Seriously.)


"Alonso, Vettel unavailable. Mercedes hires Hamilton.

Mercedes representative tells press, "Hamilton is best in F1" (er...that's a bit less wow, to be honest...)


Yes, and Hamilton would not have been known in F1 if not for McLaren, yadda, yadda. Sometimes, maybe think 'is my comment adding anything?', before clicking that Submit button.


I'll paraphrase your comment: "Do some unnecessary work, work that I never do myself, while I sit back here and carry on with my scattershot and scatterbrain comments, ok?"

You did say you were 32, correct?


Prove me wrong...quantify, show data


See above.


I thought every year was a new challenge for each team and each driver since F1 rules change each year and cars are redesigned. Apparently, Lewis thinks I'm wrong.

As a McLaren fan it's sad to see Lewis go. It's okay. My family and I will be rooting for Perez. What about Jenson, you may ask? Someone please ask Jenson to 'put some fire in his belly' and we will root for him!


You can't put fire into anyone's belly - you either got it or you don't !


Ironic really how Lauda was calling for Lewis to be banned last year and Fittipaldi also joined in on that.

He's the fastest, but Alonso is the best. Even Lauda has said that earlier this season.

Then again, when you're one of the board you'll use whatever bull****required to get the man on board.

Personally, I cant wait to see Rosbergs response.

His father Keke, advised him not to go to Mclaren in 2009 because of Hamilton's relationship with the team and his speed.


I guess he should be the only one exempted from receiving a Rosberg chop. Or maybe not.


I agree its very ironic, but everyone has criticised Lewis in the past - even Whitmarsh who currently has a certain amount of egg on his face for letting Lewis go.

I dont agree that Alonso is the best, for the simple reason that he always requires number one status.

Lewis requires and expects only equal status, and he has a team that is as ambituous and hungry for success as he is.

Good start.


Could it just be that Hamilton wants to be considered one of the all-time greats...

...and to do that he has to go to a team and help it reach the top...

...as opposed to the team helping him?

I realize to many people that may sound like a small difference. Be we are not F1 drivers -- who from birth want to be the greatest drivers of their generation. These people long for the ultimate test of their skills. More than wins, they want victories that matter to them.

Alonso was a champion before Ferrari, but is there any doubt that what he's accomplishing with that team (and might well cap with a WDC this year) is what it cementing his status IN HIS OWN MIND -- where it really counts.

If Lewis Hamilton goes to Mercedes and builds a multiple championship team, that will be the greatest achievement available to him as a driver period. I honestly think, seeing it through his eyes, this move makes perfect sense.

He wants to see, and wants US to see, what he can really do.


>Alonso was a champion before Ferrari, but is there any doubt that what he’s accomplishing with that team... is what it cementing his status IN HIS OWN MIND

Er, so far, he's -only- been a champion before Ferrari. I expect (and hope, personally) that he'll win his third championship this year, but it hasn't happened yet, and I'm completely at a loss as to how you can believe this.

Before joining Ferrari, he had been the then-youngest podium finisher, the then-youngest pole sitter, the then-youngest race winner, the then-youngest champion, and the then-youngest double champion. Since joining Ferrari he has...outperformed a not-great car, destroyed Massa, won some races and narrowly failed to win a championship while driving for F1s historically most successful team. So?

I think what he is perhaps doing in his own mind is re-establishing his self belief, which I think took a big knock at Mclaren, and replacing some earlier superficial arrogance borne of suppressed self-doubt with a more mature and deep rooted form of confidence. But unless you're his mate, we're both speculating wildly. All we know for sure is that he's achieved nothing on track since 2007 which compares on paper with his first stint at Renault. It just doesn't.


I'm sorry but I don't understand this. Last year (2011), Hamilton was supposedly distracted, not in a good family environment, etc, resulting in his 'sketchy' concentration (or lack thereof) leading him to various unnecessary accidents (e.g. Spa). What does McLaren, XIX or anyone else have to do with that? He had a fast car, and this year it's even faster (or at least RBR isn't as fast).

We all thought Button made a mistake going to McLaren from Brawn, and that Hamilton would wipe the floor with him. It didn't really happen. Like others have said, there's little point in building a brand on a driver that isn't winning. Of course Schumacher got a fair few personal contracts before his string of titles at Ferrari, but he already had two titles with Benetton, going to Ferrari on a high. Hamilton won his one championship four years ago... and that's not the same thing.

Plus... are we sure he's faster than Nico?


"Plus… are we sure he’s faster than Nico?" Good one. I am actually waiting to see that play out. I think anyone who says nico is rubbish only based on statistics dont know motorsports. The cars data will speak for the speed and characteristics of each driver. I Personally think Nico would atleast be equal as long as RB provides both with same Machinery.

By the way I am a huge Mclaren fan because of their approach and philosophy to engineering and process. Awesome.they may have been bad with pitstops but currently they are the fastest race after race. How many teams manage such turn around during a season be it with process or the car? I think it is only a matter of time before they figure out the perfect way to convert their often quick cars to WDC's and CC's. Thank god now they have someone alteast commited to work 'with' the team. I think thats the x factor missing for them.

I was also a LH fan up for his raw speed until last year when he himself admitted to being distracted by personal issues. I'm Sorry but that's utterly unprofessional for someone with a job only a privileged few are offered to do every year. The guy can be the greatest provided he gets his head right.


Yes, MSC went on a personal high. He also took the championship winning team of Brawn and Byrne with him.

The other massive advantage he had, was that in 1996 and 1997, it was only Williams that were better than Ferrari. In 1998 and 1999, Mclaren.

In the last 2 or 3 years, you have Ferrari, Red Bull and Mclaren all being serious Championship contenders. Lotus, formally Renault, have pedigree also.

If next year, Ferrari, Mclaren, Red Bull and Lotus keep up their potential, Mercedes has 4 teams to compete against.

I also believe that Hamilton's contemporaries are of a higher quality as opposed to MSC's generation.

Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Raikkonen and Schumacher.

Between 1996 and 2004, only MSC, Hakkinen, Hill and Villeneuve won WDC.

Whatever your personal views, if you weren't in a Newey design back then, you were not competing.

Yes it worked for MSC and Brawn at Ferrari, but the last 3 years have proved that whatever alchemy worked in Maranello, they don't have it any longer.

I honestly thought China was a breakthrough, yet the team has fallen gradually back until they are abusing their tyres like the past 2 years and running at best, as the 5th best team.


Can't really take it against Lewis for jumping ship, even if a couple of years back he said something along the lines of wanting to end his career at McLaren - things and people change. I just hope this decision won't just benefit him commercially/financially but in terms of sporting success/legacy as well. I mean, let's face it: McLaren have not really been the same post-Ron Dennis era. Yes, they're still consistently a top team, but you just get that feeling that something's been missing.

Although it's certainly not all over for them (McLaren). I get this feeling Sergio Perez is an even more inspired choice than it already seems. Perez's signing reminds me of 2002, when the team took a gamble on Kimi Raikkonen to replace 2x-champ Mika Hakkinen. Kimi showed just how talented and quick he is, only to be let down multiple times by uncompetitive/unreliable machinery.

Speaking of Kimi Raikkonen, it looks like he was better off being in the (tight) confines of McLaren since Ferrari seemed to have given him too much freedom. So here's hoping that with Lewis off the Mercedes, Ross Brawn (and Norbert Haug) will provide him with an even stronger sense of discipline and focus to further maximize his talents.


Yes a very gutsy move from Lewis, and I wish him and Mercedes well. As a few have said Lewis's relationship with McLaren has really gone it's course so I agree time for a new challenge. Mercedes aren't in F1 to come second or remain in the midfield, they want to win, and I think we shall see this in what transpires over the next few years. It would be nice if the 2013 car is competitive, but it seems as though there will be an almighty push in 2014. Brawn has now assembled a first class team so it's really a question of watch this space. As to Lewis's remaining 6 races with McLaren I'm sure he will make every effort to win them, but I fear if he is to have any chance of winning the WDC then Vettel and Alonso will have to a few low scoring races or DNF's. It still mathematically possible but the field is so close with any number of drivers potentially being able to win.


Yeah, an Alonso DNF or low-score looks necessary to give Lewis a peek back into the championship. The further we go into the season, the more lower teams will halt developments on this year's car, and so they won't be there to take points positions when/if any frontrunner has an adverse race.

Would seem to me that 3 wins and 5 podiums is the bare minimum Lewis would need to have a chance.


Interesting article by Benson on the BBC featuring some interesting comments by Lauda – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/19776917 (is it ok to post a link?).

On the issue of equality with Rosberg, the BBC’s initial report on the move specifically stated Lewis was assured of No.1 status within the team - This was not a Benson article by the wayy, but rather a "breaking news" item. The info coming out now contradicts that statement.

This deal ws inked between Monza and Singapore, that much is clear, and win or lose, it is the best decision for Lewis. It was bound to happen, and there is no better time than now.

As mentioned before, McLaren have failed to retain all great drivers - Alonso, Kimi, Montoya, Senna, and now Lewis - All left on more or less acrimonious terms. If Shuey had fallen for Big Ron's staid charms, he certainly would not have lasted as long as he did at Ferari.

There is certainly something wrong with McLaren's management style that eventually creates frcatituos relationships with some type of drivers.


Agreed, just add Prost to the list.


You can also add Watson at the end of 1983 for Prost.

Lauda was treated abominably by Dennis, once he announced his retirement after the 1985 Austrian GP ( I wonder if he's got any personal pleasure from stealing Lewis from Mclaren.)

Kovalainen was not exactly over the moon at his treatment by the team.


Hello James, is there any reason my comment is not showing? I included a link to a BBC article by Benson. Is that a mod issue?


No, the comments went to spam, nothing more than that


Martin Whitmarsh lost the fastest guy on the paddock. Its a real shame, I doubt this would have happened under Ron Dennis.

Lewis should really have left after 2009 when the first ominous signs in the relationship became evident. The same thing is now happening to Button but he doesn't yet realise it; Whitmarsh is making the same sort of worrying statements about Perez as he did when Jensen came aboard, it is plain that Perez is Whitmarshes hope for a champion driver, not button.


What a load of rubbish. Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Mika Häkkinen, Fernando Alonsn & Kimi Räikkönen all left when Ron Dennis was running the team. Drivers come and go - very few spend their entire career with one team.


Anyone who thinks Martin whitmarsh has carte Blanche in these negotiations and Ron is utterly uninvolved is seriously mistaking the situation. Ron Dennis is a self admitted workaholic control freak and he's still whitmarsh boss in the corporate structure.

Whitmarsh may be the point man but the mclaren offer is not his to finalize. Ron mentioned money and the limits placed on Lewis offer.

There's a bizarre blame being apportioned on whitmarsh here. Maybe Ron didn't feel like his company should have to fight so hard for his protege? Maybe brawn and the Daimler board are just brilliant negotiators?


I disagree, as stated above this happened many times before under Ron Dennis, the list is really impressive: Prost (1989), Senna (1993), Raikkonen and Montoya (2006) and Alonso (2007).


Let me digress a bit. I'm tired of all the Lewis is the quickest - Alonso is the quickest arguments. Can Bernie not at the end of each season arrange a race to clear our doubts? Say the leading constructor at the end of each season provides the winning car (same conditions) for the first 3 or 5 drivers and whoever wins takes the crown for quickest man. Think it would be a great finale and one for the fans. Might be a money spinner as well. Since the rules would most likely change the following year I don't think any driver would be taking any secrets anywhere.


Everyone would love to see this, but it would be very anti-climatic, bit like the race of champions. Once we know who the fastest is, then what? plus I don't think any one of the top drivers would risk losing their reputation. What happens if they get beat by Timo Glock or Narain K.? There is a certain mystique about not knowing exactly who the fastest driver is. Gives their fans hope.


Think back not that long ago to Jacque Villeneuve, he arrived in F1 in a blaze of glory and won a WDC early in his career.

He then left Williams to develop a team around him and never won another race again....

I am not suggesting Hamilton's career will fall as flat as Villeneuve's - Mercedes are a better bet than BAR Honda - but it could be that Hamilton's best days are now already behind him.


And yet, Villeneuve built up BAR from the remains of Tyrrell, and although not official Honda support in the first year, they soon became the Honda works squad.

Honda previously had dominated F1 between 1986 to 1991, so the reasoning back then was a year to get everything gelled, then push for the championships.

Mercedes bought a championship winning squad, and for various reason, haven't ever got back to the race winning ways.


>Villeneuve built up BAR...

Insofar as there's any credit to be shared around for establishing BAR, I'd be inclined to give most of it to Adrian Reynard rather than Jacques, or Craig Pollock, come to that.

>from the remains of Tyrrell

The new regime trashed Tyrrell, deliberately starved it of budget in its final year, kicked out the top people, and didn't listen to or learn from those that remained. In Tyrrell Racing's final year, they finished 11th and last in the WCC with no points, having scored 2 points the previous year. BAR on other hand finshed their first season...11th and last in the WCC with no points.

>Honda previously had dominated F1...

Not as a constructor they didn't. They just provided the engines. A bit like Mercedes with Mclaren. Odd, that.


No matter how this is weighed up, it looks like Hamilton is probably better off, as the change alone will offers a fresh perspective and new motivation.

However a very big question mark hangs over Mercedes ability to win in F1. I am surprised more isn't being said about Schumacher's decision not to renew his Mercedes contract for next season, which implies he didn't believe the ingredients necessary to win were in place after three years of preparation.

Personally I believe the notion of creating a so called brand Hamilton is complete nonsense. The Schumacher brand if it even exists, is a result of the drivers very significant exploits on track. If Lewis Hamilton earns an on track reputation like Schumacher, then he'll create a brand or image of his own.

However to achieve that level of career success Hamilton will need to work very hard to build a championship winning team. For that's exactly what Michael Schumacher did at Ferrari from 1996 on. He worked very, very hard. From everything I've seen and heard MS was totally dedicated to win in all aspects of his life, there was no pop star life style for Schumacher, rather a very different life dedicated to on track success at all costs. It should also be remembered this work and subsequent success was achieved in an era of more or less unlimited F1 testing.

Hamilton has taken a very big gamble and may have sowed the seeds to begin the end of his F1 career. Time of course will tell, but he needs an awful lot of good luck to come out the right side of this decision. Anyone who thinks otherwise has already bought into brand Hamilton and inhaled a little too deeply.


“It’s difficult to quantity [the negative impact],” - I think he means quantify.


Mark said 'quantify' in the interview.

Colombia Concalvez

It's the best move Lewis could do!, McLaren under Whitmarsh is going to decline. The whole rubbish about Lewis moving to Mercedes-Benz for more money is pure rubbish!, McLaren wanted to pay Lewis even more than Mercedes-Benz so that tells you that their is something wrong. And for these Fake Lewis fans who say that they would not support Lewis anymore please stay AWAY!!


Hello James,

As a free reporter/expert in a free-press world, can you shed some light on what is really the McLaren "Corporate Culture"?

It is no coincidence or not a laughing matter that in the last 15 years they have shed prime assets to "sabbaticals", "Nascar", "Other Teams".. Prime examples are:

- Mika Hakkinen taking a sabbatical in his prime and effectively taking an early retirement

- Montoya being possibly fed up and leaving for NASCAR mid-season

- Adrian Newey leaves for Red Bull

- Pat Fry leaves to Ferrari

- Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso... (imagine both of those geniuses in the 2012 McLaren, I am sure Vettel et cetera would have given up by now)

- Now Hamilton

In the same period I don't recall the team being able to recruit and retain any prime asset with the debatable exception of Jenson Button.

Your comments/analysis would be amazing to read.



From Canada 🙂


I read an interesting article in Car Magazine in which Stephen Bayley visited the Norman Foster-designed McLaren Technology Centre just after it opened. Sir Ron Dennis took Bayley around for the tour and his comments were very revealing.

From the article:

‘I’m pretty pissed-off with this mess,’ says Ron, as we pick our way over some bags surreptitiously hidden by a visiting Italian television crew. Staff are allowed no personal mementoes on desks. Ron tried a total ban on food and drink in the workplace because ‘food contaminates’. There were slight mumbles from the normally docile staff . Water was offered as a concession.

‘Contamination’, with all its psycho-medical associations, is a recurrent theme. ‘I spent many years studying what contaminates buildings,’ he explained. Ron’s special study of passenger lifts showed that conventional – and squeaky – cables bathed in grease attract and accumulate dirt. So McLaren’s lift operates on a vast, noiseless piston – although Ron thought he might have detected a minuscule amount of free play. Unprompted, he told me a childhood experience in Hampton Court Maze had been influential: ‘I had a fear of not knowing what was around the corner’. Hence, transparency becomes a weapon in the never-ending fight against the threat of hidden contamination.

‘Dust’, Ron coincidentally assured me with a victor’s swaggering confidence, ‘can be eliminated.’ I asked wasn’t all this glass and tile in his heaven on earth expensive to clean? Ron did not miss a beat: ‘High capital, low maintenance,’ he averred.

Our PR chaperone said: ‘Let’s go to see the gym!’ We agreed and she suggested warning them of our arrival. Sensing a victim and a possible source of occult contamination, Ron said ‘No! Don’t.’ The gym is empty and immaculate, but Ron on predatory walkabout groaned: ‘This is the messiest part of the building.’ He saw some temporary notices. ‘Those,’ he said ‘have got to go.’ The PR scribbled. A wince of anguish crossed Ron’s unlined, lightly tanned face when he realised the physio had, without authorisation, move a device from its architecturally determined position. At this point something reminded me to mention my old boss Sir Terence Conran and his habit of going through people’s waste paper bins. ‘We don’t have waste paper bins,’ Ron countered, easily establishing a moral and practical superiority over the country’s design godfather.

But if the public face of the McLaren Technology Centre is a Xanadu of hard-edge architectural semantics, the bowels are more revealing still of compelling client psychologies. We went below in a goods lift. Its stainless steel cocoon was dented in a couple of places. ‘This is what happens,’ Ron said ruefully. ‘You get one bonk, you get two, then five. Then nobody cares.’ It seems you then cycle into a fast descending helix to utter depravity. We went through swing doors with kickplates. Ron regards kickplates as defeatist: an invitation for unreflective minions to abuse and contaminate fittings with steel-tipped boots. We visit the computer room. ‘Humans and equipment! We can control the entire building!’"

The portrait painted by Bayley is one of maniacal micro-management on behalf of Dennis at all levels. One where individuality and personality are stamped out to serve the greater good of efficiency and cleanliness for all who serve the empire. I cannot imagine an environment more counter-productive to a racer's mind-set of wanting to win than the sanitized nanny-state Dennis insists all his underlings adhere to in his pursuit of total control.

Personally, I really admire Hamilton's decision to leave. Entitlement is something I've felt to have been Hamilton's greatest flaw, but of course, you need someone to set that expectation in the first place. His petulance and arrogance (too many examples this year) is something that I think stems from too many years of growing up in a house where you can have anything you want but never be number one.

Will Hamilton become a two-time World-Champion at Mercedes? I don't know. What I do think is that it's Hamilton's best opportunity to leave behind the problematic father-figure mentality that's dominated his previous 13 years and become his own man at a team who will be receptive to his input and ideas.


What you've described, of Ron Dennis, is a British Howard Hughes. The man obviously has major OCD/personality disorder issues.



I've always thought Wokin was something like that but it is even much more worse.


Good one, Niner. Very revealing.

I agree that Hamilton had toleave the nest to truly become a man, even if it means not getting the best machinery, he had to go. And because he had to go, it is ultimately a good move for all parties: Hamilton, McLaren, Perez, and probably Mercedes.


Was Montgomery Burns modeled on Ron Dennis?


No, vice versa. Allegedly.


Only time will tell, of course, but here's an interesting counterpoint interview with Bob Varsha -- the F1 'voice' on Speed TV here in the USA: http://formula-one.speedtv.com/article/speed-voice-bob-varsha-talks-about-lewis-hamiltons-move-to-mercedes/

Many views on the situation, eh?


Thanks for the podcast especially the piece on The Prof it gave good insight.

Of course this move is a good move for Hamilton - whether he wins, looses or does average at Mercedes . It's a new challenge with a great future potential and definitely better marketing opportunity for him. But some how I think Mercedes will be strong next year and Lewis is the right ingredient. I think Mclaren will showcase a great talent in Perez but will be fighting to keep up with the other teams. Even with the best car they have struggled because of some internal rubbish in that team- I don't think it's gone and the leadership has not been strong enough.

What I can't wait to see is Jenson being beaten by Perez and even Hamilton in a Mercedes -then the whole world will see what is wrong with that team and why they have struggled.

Tornillo Amarillo

IMO there is not too much risk since after of having an exceptional McLaren, Button and Rosberg are not so far in the standings, really, in fact I think Rosberg did a better campaign than Button in 2012.


James, what I would like to hear about is the real and full reason as to why Lewis released the telemetry sheet.

I feel most of the F1 media wirters who understand the politics of how F1 works, know more than they are

letting on as to what actually went down.

And the reason for them not letting go as to what really happened is that they would be left high and dry in terms

of F1 news gathering, (the fear of media exclusion)

And for that we the general public only get the sensational end of the story, just enough info to heighten our likes, hates and predujices.

I beleive a large factor for Lewis leaving Mclaren was to do with the team underhandness, particularly in the first half of this season

where they were trying to stop him from finishing with more points than Button.

(A legacy of feeling that some team members still held against him over the Ali Gee statement.

Lewis knew he had dropped a major clanger last year and tried this season to make up to the team.

But it seems that the bulk of the them would not, could not forgive.)

As to the that telemetry sheet. Why would Lewis agree to take a Back Wing that slows him down by 0.8sec to the full setup of his teammate on the new wing?

(Hamilton has been out qualifiying Button for the best part all season in Q3 by some 0.5sec.)

So I say again, why would he agree to race with a Back Wing so much slower if it wasn't for the fact he realised he was being stitched up

and to prove his point he produced the telemetry sheet.

(Which on one hand goes to show he had at least one friendly mechanic simplefiying with him and pointed out what was going on, for how eles did he end up with the info?)

Lewis had no choice but to go.

He is British and Button is English.

For those with that view the Ali Gee gaff would never be forgiven.

Hence, the Back Wing stitch up, along with the aledged under fueling of the car.

The mis-information radioed to him on how best to dial in the start-off clutch setting.

Being delayed in the pit by some 12sec. Long enough to let Button make it round to the pit straight so he ended up in front of LH,

Another delay in the pit so he had to wait for cars to pass before he could be released.

Along with the phoney attempt of trying to pull tape off the front inlet brake duct.

Oh and those misalined wheel nuts, how many times did the pit crew ride that pony?

1 bad start, bad pit stop in Australla (bad start due to team giving him wrong cluctlh setting?)

2 bad pit stop in Malaysia (bad pit stop let Alonso out in front)

3 bad pit stops in Bahrain

4 bad pit stops in Canada

5 bad pit stops in Valencia (Maldonaldo and him crashed. DNF for him.)

6 Team did not put enough fuel in tank for Q3 at Spain, sent to back of grid (although he made pole.)

Not the team this time.

Spa (Belgium) in first corner carnage because of Grosjean cutting across into him.

Yet most commentator's at first stated it was Hamalton that crashed into Grosjean. (Mmm, I wonder why that was?)

Similar to what they claimed happened between him and Button last year. When Button put Hamilton into a wall.

For me I believe the man had had enough and the apex to it all was the release of the telemetry sheet.

On the whole a dumb move from him, but a good bit of info for those of us who have a mind to read others behaviour and then ask the question why would they have done X.

Not just take on board what MW the manager/acting PR, diplomat that he is put out, "a collective decision on that side of the garage to go with the old rear wing setup".

And for those who would say Mclaren would not do any of the above, please wander down the lane of spygate and what happened with them and Alonso.

So James how about being brave enough to enlighten us all with the full and real reason why Lewis posted the telemetry sheet!

And if you do the write up, please don't let us have your take or others as to what may or could of happened.

Just the full and real facts.

(Or by doing so would that be to much in a round about way, justifying Lewis behaviour this year for some?)


Are not you over-analyzing things a bit? Getting outqualified by your "less skillful" team mate by a good margin, does not help if you are sitting in salary negotiations with your next employer (making arguments to become the highest earner in F1, some say). XIX were probably consulted before publishing as well. Plan was probably to make HAM look like a victim and get sympathys from fans and media...plan backfired.

Or maybe all you state about the team "sabotaging" for HAM is true - They were maybe trying to get back on him for all the costs they endured in 2011 for replacement parts and whatnot that broke in all crashes and for lost certain CC points that year (note. I am not saying HAM was the cause of the "misshaps" - always some F1 driver, in front of him on track, would foolishly be in his way and not have the ability/skill to get out of there in time. Massa Webber Maldonado Button just to name a few...).


>Plan was probably to make HAM look like a victim and get sympathys from fans and media…

Yes. Based on my own dealings with XIX, it is -possible- that they really believed that that would work, (and thus, pace my argument above, that they had in fact just fallen out of a tree).

But it is really, really unlikely, because they are not actually quite -that- clueless.


I love the reasoning and the way you use the language 🙂


At Last Someone au fully concur with !

Steve Pritchard

Sounds like conspiracy theory, the reality is more likely that Lewis wanted the same superiority that Alonso expected!


The entire telemetry scandal is over blown hype that the media agencies love, but ultimately isn't very meaningful, beyond yet again re-enforcing the fact that Lewis is extremely reactive; though does anyone, besides Lewis, honestly know why, and if it was warranted?


Lewis is reactive and wasn't happy about something, or some things at McLaren; end of story; move on.


>does anyone, besides Lewis, honestly know...if it was warranted?

Yes, we do.

All those of us who haven't just fallen out of a tree know that it. Was. Not. Warranted. Because this is something that you. Just. Do. Not. Do. Ever. Under any circumstances.

To be completely fair and even handed, it's not as bad as trying to blackmail Ron.

But there again, Ron sacked Alonso.



>suggesting anyone who doesn’t know the details must have just ‘fallen outof a tree

I didn't suggest that.

I didn't write that.

I don't believe that.

Look again at what I excerpted. I'm responding to your statement that we don't know if it was -warranted-.

My position is, again, that we -do- know that it was not warranted, just as we know that attempting to blackmail Ron Dennis was not warranted, -even tho'- we (obviously) don't know all the details.

My proposition is that it isn't situational. No knowledge of the details is required to establish that Lewis was bang out of order. You explicitly claim the opposite.

Just IMO, of course, but I'm not sure which I find more surprising; that you seem to think that there could possibly be some justification for Lewis' behaviour, or that you believe I'm somehow in breach of the rules here. Mind you, since you don't appear to actually have read my post, who knows?


Harsh toleman fan, I'm surprised you snuck this by the moderator, suggesting anyone who doesn't know the details must have just 'fallen outof a tree'?; but then again, the moderator is just as likely an Englishman, as you, n'est ce pas?

You presumption that you know the details and ramifications of the telemetry incident belie your credibility.

The telemetry incident was significant, but only like the last nudge pushing a stone down a hill, compared to the gravity of the relationship, as a whole, between McLaren and Hamilton; he was going, by that point it was already inevitable.

After the announcement of Hamilton's move to Mercedes, the telemetry anecdote is utterly irrelevant; he's moved-on, and so should all of the people obsessing about this now irrelevant episode.


Like most bizarre tim foil hatted conspiracy theorists you have a 'theory' that you 'believe' - with no evidence. You then very firmly state that a journalist must know the facts (which obviously coincide with your made up assumptions) and if the journalist doesn't confirm every word of your imaginations the journalist is part of the conspiracy.

You should probably check the definition of facts before you state your made up accusations and try to denigrate a respectable journalist because they haven't published an article saying 'crazy Internet theory guy was right from his bedroom'...


I actually believed some for the conspiracy theories. I think MW does favour JB but no matter what they do to keep him near to Lewis his fans know that in equal machinery and equal team treatment, Lewis blows button into the weeds!


Lots of people keep saying this - but in terms of points and podiums, Lewis has not really blown Button into the weeds in anything other than qualifying pace.

I'm happy to say Lewis is the faster driver than Jenson (it's fairly easy to say that Lewis is perhaps the raciest driver in the whole field for decades) but until there's actually evidence that Lewis has 'destroyed' Button, this is just the usual evidence-free fanboi claims.

If Lewis was so fantastically above Button, having an ineffectual Martin Whitmarsh favouring one man personally over another shouldn't matter in the slightest. The conspiracy would have to be that, despite Ron Dennis' personal preference, the entire design and engineering divisions - including Lewis' own pit crews - got together in a giant conspiracy behind Lewis' back and agreed to screw him over about 10 minutes after they signed Jenson up in late 2009.

This is the problem with being a fanboi - you have to dismiss the actual reality and evidence and go on 'well I feel - therefore my opinion changes reality'.

Hamilton had best DESTROY Nico at mercedes otherwise there will be an entire horde of Lewis fans crying into their shrines. After all Lewis beat Nico back in their early karting careers whilst Jensons karting career was actually more impressive than either.

No, what am I saying - if Lewis is only equal to or beaten by Nico, it will be either a [mod]/german/corporate conspiracy.

I say this all as a Lewis fan by the way. I just think even Lewis would be embarrassed by some of the conspiracy nuts who claim to support him out here in whacko F1 land. 🙂


Hahaha! You've got to be kidding!!!


It would be interresting to hear if Di Resta was considered and if not why. He is probably WDC material (did beat Vettel in F3 back in 2006 in equal cars) given the right package.


He was. He's also being considered by Ferrari, as is Hulkenberg


Ok, thanks!

I read an article about D Coulthard stating "Resta’s nationality actually played against him.". I had thought about it before reading the article and thought it made sense. Really feel sorry for Paul if that was the case, as this was a chanse of a life time (if he does not go red in 2013 that is).


No way Di Resta.


Hi James,

Do you think the Hamilton move had the blessing of Bernie from the very beginning? It's a huge win to have Mercedes now committed to F1 for the long term.

Also what do you think XIX will do for Lewis differently in the future? Will other driver managers see them a big threat to their business?


For sure Bernie would've loved it. A cynic, one who thinks that Bernie could decide WDC's and WCC's at the start of the year, would think that Bernie would guarantee Lewis and Mercedes wins next year.


Theer were three questions there - may I ask which was 'Of course' the answer to?


Was the Singapore helmet change a clue? Rosberg wears yellow also yeah?


Yes, they also wore matching underpants.


Yeah, though it's a lighter, brighter yellow. And he wears the yellow shoes too. I think it should be fairly easy to pick them apart, and there's always the t-bar's if not.


A couple of F1 facts to consider.

Since 1958, only two teams who built road cars before entering F1 have taken titles: Mantra and Renault (both French!)

The only other teams to produce road cars and win titles are Ferrari, Lotus and McLaren. These teams were all F1 teams before producing own-badged road cars.

History suggests that manufacturer teams are not particularly successful.

Personally, I think both Lewis and McLaren are losers over this.


Well, you're only talking the Constructors' title, which didn't exist while Mercedes were racing.

Mercedes won 3 of the six European Championships seasons (or the six that had awarded a title to a winner), and both of the seasons they contested in early F1 (1954 and 1955).


This is true, I was intentionally discounting the years prior to 1958 as this short period was dominated by constructors. Early F1 had few non-manufacturer teams and kind of skews the point that I was making about the under-performance of constructors (not Mercedes in particular).

There have been quite a few manufacturers that have had their own F1 teams and have failed - sometimes spectacularly. Think of the recent failures of Toyota, Honda and Jaguar, all top level brands with huge resources behind them that failed to win big for various reasons - one common one, I feel, is that the teams were run more by committee rather than the dictatorship they really need to be to succeed.

Mercedes today is a different company from Mercedes in the 1950s and I'm not sure they are going to be any different from those teams I've already mentioned. We shall see...


Addendum : "dominated by manufacturers" I meant


After what has been said by a number of f1 people it seems all was not well at Mclaren, Hamilton had to go and I'm glad he has, Mclaren even with the fastest car make many mistakes, that's why they havn't won the titles they should have. It also adds to F1, we now have five top drivers all in different teams, can't wait till Lewis gets his first win in the mercedes


I find it hard to believe Blundell used the word synergy. Are you sure he didn't say "fings wot in all fairness work togevva at the end of the day" ?

Adrian Newey Jnr


A lot of focus has been (rightly) on Hamilton's move. However, no one (of any serious journalistic intent) has written about the background of Sergio's move to McLaren. After all, it was not long ago that people were penciling him in for Massa's seat. This move seems to have been missed by most of the F1 media, being overshaddowed by Hamiton.

Given McLaren had "no plan B" (which I find very hard to believe), Sergio's move was instanteous. Perhaps Hamiton's future had been determined long before and the announcement was only held back until Sergio was locked in? This would explain Lewis's demeanor over the past few races whilst McLaren negotiated with Sergio's management.

This also puts into context Ms Monisha's comments about the future of her Sauber drivers. Could you perhaps interview Ms Monischa from Sauber about it? Perhaps for your next podcast?

Steve Pritchard

An Englishman abroad - I was in napa and saw a Mclaren AMG parked in a winery. The car was almost as sexy as the Cabernet Sauvignon on offer! 🙂

Mclaren are an exclusive brand bar none!


I'm really glad that Lewis has moved on and aiming 'to be a man'. Like DC said "grow up. be a man."

There is no doubt about his talent to wrestle the car for speed. However, he needs to be a lot more complete like Alonso, Vettel, Schumacher, Button, Raikkonen. If he learned such abilities at Merc, there plenty of championship awaits him.

Ross Brawn and Hamilton may create a new empire like the dominant Brawn-Todt-Schumacher era was. Well... probably not as dominant but still it will be something.


Excuse my ignorance, but what's so great about becoming a 'brand'? I thought a driver's goal was to win championships and prove you're the best in the world. Becoming a 'brand' sounds like a rather uninteresting career choice to me.


Uninteresting perhaps, but likely to be very lucrative if successful.


This is my first ever posting after reading JAonF1 for a long time now. So hello James, you have a fantastic site!

I'll start by saying Im an Aussie and naturally I want to see MW win but obviously he's got a massively talented team mate and he's up against it, but he does his country proud.

I get sick all the crap and hype about Hamilton on this site. I feel like I'm on a Lewis Hamilton fan site sometimes. He's a great driver but he's got a lot of work to do to be considered amongst the greats of the sport. Alonso and especially Vettel are in another class to Hamilton in so many ways.

I think he's made a mistake in leaving, but the damage with the McLaren relationship was probably done a year or so back.

If Button is indeed the so called favourite at McLaren nowadays, then that's probably Hamilton's own fault. They've backed him since he was a kid, and they've given him pretty competitive cars for most of his career and he came out of the Alonso thing as their clear Number1. He should have moulded the team around himself, but he's either not smart enough ah lah Alonso/MSch/Senna or followed poor advice or both.

McLaren have no doubt themselves made several mistakes this year which has cost Hamilton, which makes you wonder how committed each individual in the team is to a bloke who didn't perform at 100% the previous year?? These blokes busted their chops preparing the car for much less $$$ and fame while he was off playing with his movie star mates.

Anyway, I think it's a sad day. It would have been good to see Hamilton and McLaren get back to the top together rather than Hamilton flying the German flag in F1 and building his brand.

While Hamilton and his people build up his "brand", Alonso/Vettel and co will be winning WDCs.

The winners out of this are.... XIX, Perez, and its a toss up between Merc/McLaren/Hamilton.


Other winners, Vettel, Alonso.


Thanks for the post. Look forward to reading more!


Personally, I think the big winner is Ross Brawn and Norbet Haugh?,a stay of execution? with MB's new personel including Niki Lauda clearly MB are putting pressure on Brawn and Haugh to perform which they have failed miserably to date, Haugh is an imposter and Brawn has produced another dud.Hamilton will drag them up the grid and Britney will be found wanting. MB won't tolerate being a loser.


'Timing is right' -> Absolutely - for Perez


Some interesting stats for those who say McLaren haven't won a CC in over a decade. I would still say McLaren are a TOP team.

Total wins

1. Ferrari: 219

2. McLaren: 180


?. Mercedes: 10



A lot has been hyped about Lewis's move to Mercedes coinciding with the proposed 1.6L Turbo charged engines from 2014 and Merc supposed to have a head start over others.

However with Bernie still posturing against those V6 and still wanting to continue with the current V8's,how would that play out?


Hi James

Thank you for keeping this item live. It certainly has generated a lot of interest.

The more that I look at it the more I think pretty much everybody is a winner,particularly Lewis and I do not think that 'Brand Lewis' is the prime consideration. Lewis wants to win.

So does McLaren apparently but they have lost the way. The graph speaks for itself. They can win races but not Championships. Lewis wants to do both but particularly the latter. He realises that is what counts to many people.

Ron Dennis appeared to say that it was only individual races that counted in his Monza interview. I could have been mistaken but that is what I took from his interview.

It was the need to win Championships, from Lewis point of view,that provided the tension at Monaco last year. Seb was building a lead while McLaren were playing games in the Pit Lane. I am sure the truth will come out at some point out about what was going on then and susbsequently.* The rest of 2011 provided more evidence of the same incompetence(games).

It is at this point that strong management was required within McLaren. For whatever reason it was absent.

I think the whole thing was summed up for me by the Martin Whitmarsh interview on Friday afternoon on BBC News. I watched it twice to make sure that it was not a figment of my fertile imagination. MW said that Jenson had obliterated, yes obliterated, the opposition in a recent race. I assume that is Spa when Fernado and Lewis were wiped out at the first corner and Seb started tenth, regardless of the wing issue with Lewis. I guess that he was still hurt by losing one of the best drivers in F1.

McLaren have become almost a scene within Little Britain where the computer says 'No'.

For me Damon Hill summed it up when he said that Lewis was managed to within an inch of his life. Fly free Lewis not least for the remainder of 2012.

USA 10 Europe 6 Nothing is impossible!


* Hi James

I apreciate that you try to keep me and other F1 fans in the picture and that you must not compromise your sources.

It would be great to get a further insight into what happened in McLaren in Monaco in 2011 and Spa this year.

Thank for what you have added to my appreciation and enjoyment of F1 over many years.




Apologies for my rant and asumptions above.

Could not say sorry more.



It is clearly James site and for him to set the tone of the site. For the most part I agree with a great deal of what you said.

F1 is weird. The cast of characters and events are almost beyond belief. Bernie, Flavio, Max, Ron, Martin etc. etc. except they are real.

You and I and many others struggle to understand what is going on. It is for me part of the facination of F1 and is one of the facets that make it so interesting.

A young guy comes into the sport almost wins the WDC in his first year, whilst beating a world champion whose is currently championship leader and then goes on to win it in his second year. Since then wins but no strong opportunity to win another WDC.

Alongside that the first pole position in three years for a colleague driver, which led to an eventual win, is hailed as obliterating the opposition. Meanwhile the leading driver is 'allowed' to make a duff decision on a rear wing, which leads him to be half a second slower when on most occasions he has been half a second faster than his team mate.

Made it up? No just McLaren World which I struggle to understand but which makes life so interesting. It could not possibly be accepted as a plot line for a TV series because it is so unbelievable.

Next episode this weekend.




I'm curious, how much do think Button's presence at McLaren led to Lewis leaving? It seems as though he's been unsettled on a number of occasions by him.


To Peter Jones question (sorry, I'm not James). Methinks Button's presence had little, if anything to do with Lewis' departure...a significant observation admittedly imparted from my readings and the optics of an F1 broadcast...ergo, no "insider" stuff here. Lewis will always be a qualifying giant; however, his race craft and tendency for piqueishness make him a less desirable teammate than Jenson. We all hear of Lewis' personal issues throwing off his pace, whatever, last year. I say, get over it son and put on your "big boy" pants! Good on him going to another team - perhaps he'll learn how good he had it at McLaren - and they, in turn, can shed themselves of this diva distraction.



haha - "... I say, get over it son and put on your “big boy” pants!...!

Classic, got a belly laugh from me - and I agree 100%.

If I'm McLaren, and I'm paying a driver £15M per year to drive, I don't wanna hear that he needs more love cause his mum didn't cuddle him enough when he was a baby - get out and do what you're paid to do!

But on another note - I think Button had a LOT to do with Hamilton leaving - but more indirectly than anything.

Button came into Hamilton's house and matched him blow for blow, and has even spanked Hamilton a good few times - something a lot of people didn't expect, and I believe this rattled Hamilton.

Add to that the 'personality' issues Hamilton has, I suggest the team has been growing tired of Hamilton for a while.

Then Button comes in, with one of the best personalities on the grid, with the pace to match - it was quite obvious that the team would warm to him.

After all, they are all adults, and adults want to hang out and work with adults, not children. Children are hard work, especially petulant, bad tempered ones.

Is it any wonder that the team 'favour' Button?

Believe what you like, but know the truth - Button was a BIG reason Hamilton is now with Merc next year.


Well everything showed why lews is going at the end of the year after the gp today there's something going on within he ram when Lewis car stopped on the 20 th lap there was not reaction from the engineers who did not fllnch when his ar. Stopped power failure.thisis very fishy mclaren might have a good name but they have cocked up all year on Lewis. So glades going he has nothing to lose by going to Marc's. Hope all this will come out because I for one will not support f1" how an you be doing the fastest

Ap and be in pole when he just stopped you would have thought his team would have been mortified not o e of them moved a muscle please someone explain to me or have I lost the plot.

Top Tags
SEARCH McLaren Honda
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!