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Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Sep 2012   |  5:50 pm GMT  |  351 comments

The BBC’s Eddie Jordan has broken a story today that Michael Schumacher is set to retire from driving at the end of this season and that Lewis Hamilton is shaping up to replace him.

It was clear from the “Tweetgate” incident that Hamilton and McLaren were not on the same page last weekend, with the driver making public a telemetry set up sheet, to the disappointment of his team mate and team boss, who described it as “an error of judgement”.


Hamilton is said by Jordan to be discussing terms with Mercedes, via his management team led by music impresario Simon Fuller, which doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen; it could be an extreme negotiating tactic to bring McLaren and its sponsors to the table with an improved offer. Mercedes has always been Hamilton’s only real bargaining chip when trying to scare McLaren into paying him more money.

But have they had enough of him and are they willing to let him go? That is one of the key questions here, especially after the weekend.

I have to admit I heard a whisper about this on Monday, but didn’t have any more evidence than a word from an insider, who seemed to have an insight. But this site doesn’t really deal in rumour, unless it is opened up to public debate as this one has now been.

“I believe Hamilton and Mercedes have already agreed personal terms and a deal could be imminent,” Jordan said on the BBC Sport website this afternoon.

A McLaren spokesman commented this evening, “We have been told by Lewis Hamilton’s management team that the story is untrue.”

This is different from McLaren saying that the story is untrue. The nuance between the two is to be noted.

If Hamilton pulls the trigger and leaves the team that raised him as a driver and brought him into F1, it looks as though Force India’s Paul Di Resta is at the front of the queue to replace him.

And what of Schumacher’s role in all of this? The seven times champion has been saying that he will not decide his future until October and if this Hamilton development turns out to be true he will not be pleased that his retirement has been anticipated in this way.

Could there be an ongoing role for Schumacher in the management team at Mercedes or AMG, if that is the brand they choose to run it under? The team which has been assembled around Ross Brawn is interesting in that it features a number of “chiefs” in all the technical areas; design, technical management, research and development and operations. It is a set up that doesn’t necessarily need Brawn to run it in the future, if he sees his own retirement in prospect at some point in the next year or two.

So a role for Schumacher in the management of the team might be the next step. It’s hard to see him moving to Brackley, so the role would not be as hands-on as Brawn has been, but it gives him an ongoing role and a reason to get up in the mornings.

Maybe this is what Bernie Ecclestone meant at the weekend when he said it was sad to lose Schumacher as a driver without him winning a race on his comeback.

Mercedes has had an up-and-down season, indeed the last few years have not met expectations, so if Hamilton does make this move, on the face of it, he is taking a gamble.

But Brawn is on the record as saying that he is confident that the team he has assembled will come good next season, that is what they have been building towards, so they may be about to deliver a car to bear comparison with the 2009 car from that group, which bore Brawn’s name.

More is bound to emerge over the Monza weekend and as Ferrari is not set to make any driver announcements, this story will be at the centre of attention in the F1 paddock.

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1

It’s sad to see Schumi’s career v2 end in a similar fashion to v1 when Ferrari “was looking to the future”. A stint at McLaren would be awesome but I doubt it will happen.

As for Hamilton he is super quick and can race however his little tantrums aren’t impressive to anyone. McLaren has backed him through thick and thin yet he seems to feel he can throw his toys out of the pram Alonso style. A stint at Mercedes will set him straight, Brawn won’t put up with this rubbish behaviour however I do think that Hamilton’s behaviour will change once he is in a different team so Brawn can bring the best out of him. Button will get a wake up call once Perez steps into the McLaren seat.

2

Hello James,

Thank you for your email reply to my recent post. For what it’s worth I think you have thoroughly misinterpreted what I intended to be a positive comment – with hindsight it was worded rather poorly as a result of my attempting to be too brief. I’m therefore grateful to you that you haven’t left it up for similar public misinterpretation.

Sadly my reply to your email bounced, so my apologies for commenting here. I couldn’t really let your email drop without any attempt at an explanation on my part. It is all too easy to jump to conclusions and then pass comment when there is no option to enter in to a dialogue.

Regards, Charles.

3

I think Hamilton is going to wait until the end of the season to make up his mind. If he wins the Drivers World Championship, he will stay. If he doesn’t, it will come down to a number of factors including, McLaren’s position in the Constructors Championship in relation to other teams in discussion with Hamilton, and his position in relation to Button in the Drivers Championship.

I think Hamilton can win this World Championship, and I think with the way McLaren are going at the moment, I can see them taking this form into 2013, and being very hard to stop.

5

Rosberg to Mclaren and Hamilton to Mercedes.

6

I’ve read through the whole thread and really have to wonder if you guys have really short memories.

Kimi spent how many years at Macca and was in more or less the same position Hamilton is in now – and at that time he was the man. That partnership brought some epic drives but bore no fruit.

So why would he go back?

Regards MSC,its time, the current Merc has been designed around him and the team is suffering because of it. Rosberg (most underatted driver on the grid) is falling behind becoming a #2 as merc try to fit the car to him and Schumi is not finishing races the team needs to accept new blood is needed & a new direction.

But its the Redbull team you have to consider in all of this,Vettel changed their fortunes, now everyone speaks of the team as though the team has history never questioning their DNA.

seriously if Coultard & Webber were still the drivers how do you think they would of fared over the past couple of years?

Hamilton to Merc would be a great move for him ( I predicted this some time ago, on this very forum….what you don’t read me….prrrft).

if true or not it really is the best move for him, the brand as the resources to produce a car that can do the bizniz. (and Norbets wanted and admired Lewis for some time).and I believe he & Rosberg would be a quality pairing.

In the past many have argued about loyalty were Hamilton is concerned regards Mclaren, the double standards – Alsonso could use Renault like an ugly girlfriend without question. no one says a word.

I say give Whitemarsh Button.

Eddie Jorden is a god for letting this out the bag if this proves to be true.

Honestly James commenting on tittle tattle sometimes ain’t all bad.

7

Since Lewis Hamilton graduated in f1 2007, we were hoping to see a driver fall into the hallmark of the Late Ayrton Senna. Then again in 2008 as well as till 2010.

Now Lewis maturity is getting worse; Belgium Gp he was a sore looser in displaying telemetry of his and Jensons laps in terms of Downforce levels. Did he think before no. The damage has been done why did he do this? All he had to say wrong set up no worries i will race. He gives up too quickly no aspirations. It will be hard for him to join any new team. Mclaren know this and Lewis will sign with Mclaren after twitter gate. He says his idol is Senna but Senna would never do such rant but simply race. Lewis will need couple of more years before he can find a leading team to accept him in.

8

Take my word, we’ll be laughing out when we see this story after a month.

Lewis leaving McLaren to a team which has won only one race in 3 yrs now?! Really funny.

Except 2016 (when mercedes may not supply engines) I dont see any value in lewis leaving McLaren.. money wont be a criteria.. he wants to win and for getting a better deal, he is just using mercedes.

9

LH should post a photo of telemetry showing his career trajectory since 2008, that’d irritate McLaren! Genuinely wish both parties all the best.

10

I think you could make a decent living betting against everything Eddie Jordan predicts.

11

He scored Schumacher’s return and Heidfield’s mid-seaseon replacement by Senna. I wouldn’t bet against all his guessings.

12

Mercedes could be a sensible move for 2014 onwards. Hamilton could be being very logical and business like and thinking longer term. Mercedes may have offered him not only cash, but the guarantee of an engine that will only be available to one other driver. ( as per the rumour that Mercedes will only supply the works team when the new engine regs come in)

Mclaren will either be a customer team or announce their own engine programme, which will take time to come good. I predict they will announce their own engine plans when they launch the P12 at the end of the month. Lewis to Mercedes could be a strong and logical move, longer term

13

That is an interesting point of view. And I could add the following: Merc might have promised him (in medium to long term) a exclusively dedicated team to develop a suitable car along with a comfy #1 driver seat, much like Ferrari.

Just a thought.

14

I think Eddie came up with the rumor just to make up a story. Journalists should not make up stories like these or say them further just to create some headlines out of nothing.

It makes completely no sense for Hami or Macs to look elsewhere. Hami going there cannot even be used from Hamilton as a negotiation tool because Macs will not believe it. He will be better at Macs and everyone knows it.

Next story please.

15

Is DiResta really rated that highly James? I’d pick Hulkenberg over him.

16

Both are on the radars of top teams.

17

i would be suprised if Lewis went to mercedes..quietly hoping he’ll go to Williams but theres more chance of me driving for them heh. If Lewis does go then, i see Lewis/Mercedes Di Resta/Mclaren Schumacher/Ferrari??

18

Simon Fuller needs a better brand of hair dye.

19

Stories – that’s all it is!

All parties invloved have to much to lose!

Nothing adds up!

20

In my opinion the rumour is quite credible, not just because it is coming from people that in the past were spot on but mainly because of the situation in the pilot market

Michael, is getting quite old. I doubt anyone of us couch observers can imagine the difficulty in driving competitively. He may be still fit but the age factor will reduce his reflexes. Can he stay for one more year? Possibly but why should he? He does not need to prove anything, the only record still missing is to surpass the races done but who cares? He had his fun the last 3 years, he had a nice salary and he has managed to associate with a strong brand from his own country for the rest of his lifetime. Possibilities are many for some kind of involvement with motor racing in the future. Despite liking his current participation in F1 as I am a fan of his, its time to move on

Could he be replaced by Hamilton? Given that the job market is due a nice reshuffle in 2014 probably it would not make sense. He is better off in Mclaren for one more year. The real question is would this be offered to him? Whitmarsh is not stupid he obviously understands the talent of Hamilton and he would prefer to tie him with a long term contract.

Moving to Mercedes would be a good mone in my opinion especially from 2014 onwards. People seem to forget that Mclaren despite its competitive form and its strong history has not really overperformed the other teams for more than 10 years. In my opinion the team is slowly going down in resources and capabilities. I believe that once Mercedes full free themselves from the current relationship with Mclaren (in 2015) the gradual decline will become more rapid and we may see a Mclaren resembling Williams in terms of possible performance.

We will soon find out anyway

21

Jamess ,

Needless to say the prospect of Michael leaving is not heartening, at least not in this manner.

The dissonance of Lewis is quite palpable. But right now this is only going to be conjecture.

Coz if he is leaving Mclaren, and is bound to Mercedes, and if If Michael is not quitting, then the spotlight also gets on to Massa and Rosberg. Massa runs out of contract and Rosberg has a multi year deal, but if massa does not get extended, then the silly season will have a huge new level.

While coz of the merecdes connection, Lewis may be tempted by big bucks, but i just wonder despite the hugely talented team at Mercedes, what is the assurance that they have provided to Lewis for 2013 onwards? or is this professional suicide?

Well we have not heard the last on this one for sure.

Sincerely

SK Anand

22

I really hope this is all a negotiation tactic from Hamilton’s management. Schumacher has been working his ass of at Merc pushing the team foreward. Now it seems the team is finnaly starting to deliver and 2013 can be the fairytale ending to a great carriere of a great legend. These are Schumacher fruits to pick, not Hamilton. If Schumacher quits now it would give the same feeling as in 2006. Leaving his fan’s wondering why…

23

The problem is I think Merc would ideally like to have Schumy and Lewis. Wonder if they regret re-signing Nico?

Shame Schumy cant do one last year at Ferrari to keep the seat warm for Seb

24

Probably there’s a substantial degree of truth in the rumour-mill. NB:

(i) Bernie’s comment (always judicious, if seldom the whole story…)

(ii) Eddie Jordan’s gone public (he might be mad, but he’s got his ear close to the ground and the BBC don’t seem to be reining this one in – rather there has been tacit endorsement)

(iii) James’ whisper

(iv) Hamilton’s comment re *2014*. I just don’t see Hamilton as switched on enough to be looking that far forward off his own bat. It must be a reference to what Mercedes think they can promise with the new engines (it’s true that Mclaren will have a Mercedes engine at least for the first year of the new regs, but the ‘works’ team will nevertheless have an advantage).

(v) It all fits in nicely with Paul Di Resta’s falling out with Anthony Hamilton. One wonders whether the problem was PdR thinks the next Mercedes seat will be his, but AH rather than advancing PdR’s case has somehow advanced HAM’s negotiations. Whether that is the case or not, there’s a clear potential for conflict of interest (or perception of that) vis-a-vis AH if both PdR and HAM are going for the same seat.

(vi) HAM’s twitter antics last weekend become more readily explicable if he feels that he is able to play ‘hardball’ with Mclaren (in his own naive way).

(vii) HAM’s management team are probably more interested/experienced in brand and money than the racing element – why should they worry very much about the likely relative competitiveness if they are on a percentage of a fat 5-year deal? Are they going to spite their own wallets by taking the smaller money that Mclaren will offer.

Probably, nothing is written in stone yet, but it looks like the HAM to Mercedes may be gathering enough momentum to make it difficult to stop. Mclaren will not give HAM the blank cheque he wants and his antics are probably making the prospect of him re-signing with Mclaren less and less. HAM has hardly eclipsed BUT while they have been teammates, and Mclaren will be able to attract a decent driver in the second seat. HAM in a midfield car (if the Merc stays where it is) is likely to be a entertaining train wreck, with moments of brilliance.

The last piece of the jigsaw is MSC. I’d be surprised to see him bow out while he’s on an upward curve, but maybe he’s finally satisfied his racing addiction.

Objectively, I think it’s a bad move for HAM. Mclaren is probably more likely to consistently produce championship winning cars. The HAM-BUT partnership has been remarkably smooth (as such things go). If HAM could just settle a bit, it’s difficult to see a better place for him. Taking the bigger pay cheque is just going to be more of an indulgence to the worse features of HAM’s character.

25

Roger W remembered very well:

viii) Merc did not deny it.

26

My McLaren contacts have feared this since the end of last season, if feared is the right word. It could be a good move on Hamilton’s part – McLaren have been ‘nearly’ men for a few years now and you can be sure Brawn will come good eventually (most likely with the next big regulation change in 2014). It would be very sad to see Michael retire without winning a race in his comeback, though.

As for McLaren, it leaves them in a slightly tricky situation. By now they probably feel that Jenson Button’s performance is a bit too sensitive for them to rely on him as an out-and-out number one, so they need a real race winner in the other car. Di Resta is the obvious choice, but I could also see them tidying up a slightly raw talent like Romain Grosjean. I wouldn’t bet against Perez either, but he appears happy to learn his trade with Sauber for a few years yet.

It’s all speculation at this point, though. Who knows, Robert Kubica could stun everyone and announce he’s fit for 2013. That would blow the driver market wide open!

27

Please please can it be Kimi or Kobayashi to Mclaren deffo not DiResta!

28

If Hamilton moves to Mercedes, that will be a sign that he puts money ahead of performance. What he really wants, I suspect, is a Red Bull…

29

Mercedes have not denied it…

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