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Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Sep 2012   |  11:06 am GMT  |  844 comments

Lewis Hamilton’s demeanour and that of his team after victory in the Italian Grand Prix bore all the hallmarks of a divorce that has already been agreed. Minimal celebrations on the pit wall and beneath the podium, a team photo for appearances’ sake with an implacable looking Hamilton and Ron Dennis declining to join in.

Despite appearances, team boss Martin Whitmarsh said after the race that suggestions that a deal was already done were “fantasy” and insisted that the door is still open if Hamilton wants to stay.

However driver contracts often get signed during race weekends and there were strong indications that the situation may have been closed out before everyone left Monza.

Hamilton looks like he is moving on, perhaps the only way he can become his own man, certainly the only way he and XIX Entertainment can fully cash in on his status, box office power and his image rights. And that is a big part of what this is about. Mercedes is one of the world’s most powerful brands, while McLaren makes F1 cars and small volume sports cars. This deal will take Hamilton’s name and image well beyond the boundaries of F1. If Hamilton did not want this, why would he had signed up with XIX?

Also McLaren drivers have to work within strict guidelines with team sponsors. Mercedes need Hamilton and this deal will give him greater freedom. The suggested deal with Mercedes and its sponsors is very big and so too will be the impact it will make on the competition in F1 over the next three years and the driver market in the nearer term.

Mercedes had to do this, as one of only two “works” teams in F1 they had to get a champion on board, especially with Michael Schumacher winding down towards retirement again. There is risk if they don’t go on to win, but it’s a risk worth taking.

Ron Dennis’ fellow McLaren shareholders were all in Monza this weekend, from Friday onwards; Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman and long time shareholder Mansour Ojjeh could be observed in discussions with Whitmarsh over the next steps in a painful negotiation with a driver whom the team has nurtured since childhood.

Eddie Jordan, apparently prompted by both XIX and Bernie Ecclestone, lobbed the grenade in on Wednesday, saying that Hamilton was on the point of signing for Mercedes. It was a final call to McLaren to improve the deal on offer or lose their man.

But some signs were there from McLaren’s side that there was not only a reluctance to meet the financial terms, but also a weariness with the whole pantomime of ‘Life with Lewis.’ The tweeting of the set up sheet in Spa was a symbolic watershed in a relationship which has veered off track since the wide eyed enthusiasm of 2007.

The biggest problem for McLaren is how to replace Hamilton without losing significant performance. He’s worth £25 million a year because he’s one of the fastest drivers in the world and whoever sits in the car next year is unlikely to be able to match that speed. Whitmarsh said yesterday that he does not have a Plan B.

Paul di Resta senses an opportunity, but will he be able to meet the numbers on the stopwatch that Hamilton does? And will McLaren want both their drivers to be managed by the same person? Di Resta confirmed his deal with Jenson Button’s manager Richard Goddard this weekend, replacing Lewis’ father Anthony, who is suing Di Resta for wrongful dismissal and loss of earnings.

F1 is an incestuous world, with such complex intertwined relationships but there is great goodwill between Goddard and Whitmarsh. Goddard looked very pleased all weekend in sharp contrast to the careworn faces of the McLaren management.

Kimi Raikkonen is the only driver who could get close to Hamilton’s performance – he is only a single point behind him in the championship – but he seems happy at Lotus and he wasn’t terribly happy last time he drove for McLaren. His qualifying pace has yet to be rediscovered but he’s racing very strongly. He would work well with Button and form a strong team, but he’s come back to F1 to enjoy himself and the sponsor commitments would be a huge sticking point. Button would refuse to do more than his fair share for Vodafone, Mobil and the rest to compensate.

Speaking of Vodafone, there have been suggestions that discussions are taking place for Sergio Perez to join the team; Vodafone has been looking for years into expanding its reach in Latin America and particularly Brazil via Perez’ backers Telmex and America Movil. So this could provide a strong business case for a move. However Perez is a Ferrari Academy driver so there are some hurdles there.

There have been suggestions of a trade with Mercedes on Nico Rosberg, with Michael Schumacher staying on to partner Hamilton. But one senses that Mercedes were waiting to see if they could get Hamilton signed before making their next move, and now may start gently leaning on the seven times champion to ease him into retirement.

Hamilton at Mercedes, if and when confirmed, is good news for Bernie Ecclestone, who keeps Mercedes involved and committed, despite some very rocky times between the two parties recently over Mercedes’ share of the sport’s revenues in comparison with Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren. It could be Mercedes’ turn to do some winning in F1.


Ecclestone has got what he wants, but is known to be suspicious of Simon Fuller and XIX Entertainment. Such a group having so much power and control over one of his biggest stars is a situation he will be monitoring carefully.

This looks like the final push for Mercedes – Ross Brawn knows what it takes to win and has followed the tried and tested formula: he has built up his technical team, they have their own engine facilities and a clear plan and now it looks like they have the driver.

All the pieces are in place and Mercedes must deliver the title in the next three years.

Fail with this group and there would be pressure from Daimler shareholders to call time on the F1 adventure.

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1

Wowzer.

Lewis better win a title this year in that case, because my guess is that with Mercedes it will take a min of two years(?). First year to bed down, second year to reach for the prize.

Your thoughts James?

2

I dont get any of it. Do you really think that Lewis's move to Mercedes is going to suddenly bring an abudance of wins?

Lewis does not do well in cars that are not doing well.

As for Ross Brawn knowing how to win Championships? ..... I think someone should remind him of that because I think he has forgotten.

Lewis is heading for the wilderness trust me.

The reason that Mercedes has failed to make an impact during the last three years, has very little to do with driver line-up and far more to do with team infrastructure,something that took Ferrari over 25 odd years to achieve.

Team Brawn was a lucky 'loope' hole W.D.C it will not be repeated.

By the time Mercedes get up to speed, no pun intended both Ferrari, RedBull and Mclaren will be in another realm ...... and Lewis won't be the King of it, maybe the Court Jester but that's about all.

3

the-"Lewis to Mercedes"-story says nothing about what Schumacher plans to do

nor, why Mercedes should replace Schumi (or Rosberg) with Lewis

in fact, the usually extremely well informed "Bild"-Zeitung now tells us that Mercedes are in the middle of negotiations with Schumi

BOTH parties WANT to extend the contract !!!

Schmumi angles for a 1+1 contract, whereby he could unilaterally go for an extra year in 2013

Mercedes want to keep it down to one year only

in this context, Hamilton would be their option B ; talking to him is also a way to keep pressure on Schumi

http://www.bild.de/sport/motorsport/michael-schumacher/pokert-um-einen-neuen-vertrag-26164746.bild.html

4

Don't know why people think McLaren is the best place for him if he wants to win a title. How many Drivers titles have they won since 2000? One. And Constructors? None. No team markets itself better, but in terms of actually bringing home the bacon, sadly, the stats don't lie.

5

Looks like LH won't get his special edition McLaren F1 then, can't win 3 championships if he leaves, but how likely would it have been? Mercedes will bring lotsa bling 🙂

6

I was sure that RD originally promised him the F1 if he won his first season. The deal then mysteriously change to winning 3 championships upon his second successful campaign.

Seems a little disingenuous...

7

Bed down... or have a team injected with a new lease of life unlike any other and have potentially the most-motivated, most-determined-to-prove-a-point driver on the 2013 grid.

Yes, I'm sure there'll be some bedding down, but I don't think you can understate the potentially positive impact of a move like this. With an investment like this, Merc will have an awful lot of motivation and financial investment in doing everything not to fail.

8

Jenson ain't finding it so easy in his second year with McLaren, or third even lol.

With Hamilton moving to Mercedes, this is seriously expose Jenson's abilities in adapting to the car, leading the design front and setting up the car. He won't have the help from one of the fastest guy on the grid anymore. Anyone else bar Kimi joining him, it'd make McLaren weaker. Imagine having two Kovalainens or de la Rosas within one team.

9

Kay,

You are 100% wrong.

Lewis is a much more adaptable driver than JB which is why he can drive around a cars problems much more than JB.

Because of this ability Lewis is not as strong at setting up his car as many of his competitors are...JB included.

JB's dip mid season was due to a change of floor design resulting in uneven front to rear temperature that eventualy even Lewis's supreme talent could not drive around.

JB is a WDC and has many more wins than the other 2 drivers you mentioned. I think your LH bias is resulting in somewhat cloudy vision regarding JB's talent...and this is coming from a LH fan!

10

Hi Matthew,

I'm not saying that JB is 'so good' at setting up his car...I'm just saying that he's better than LH, because LH supreme talent has enabled him to drive round issues rather than fixing them from a mechanical/set-up direction.

JB (& his mechanics) went into a blind alley in his attempt to overcome a problem that LH could just drive round. Due to this, when they changed the floor they defalted to LH's settings for base-line setup.

The reason Brawn went backwards through the year was that they were very short of money...if you remember, the car was very bare!

JB learnt a lot that year about setup from RB who was a driver known for his excellent feedback...and the car still went slower due to lack of development MONEY!

P.S. When JB went to BAR he blew JV out of the water...and eventualy out of the team.

JB is a great driver, I don't think he's as good as Hamilton or Alonso...but he's not that far off!

11

@matthew

It sounds like you have some deep insider knowledge about how McLaren (and the Brackley team) share data between both sides of the garage?

It has nothing to do with Jenson being 'good' or 'bad' at setting up his car - the designers tried something that simply didn't work and both drivers suffered, Hamilton less so because his driving style allows a wider operating platform.

re: Jenson's earlier career - lets look back...

In his first year at Williams, he didn't do too badly - 8th I believe in a championship where points were only offered down to 6th place. Pretty sharp for a rookie, no?

The Benetton years were pretty awful, but then Briatore hated him and we all know how he handled drivers he didn't like.

He came third in the championship in 2004 for BAR, after both the Ferrari drivers effectively dominated it.

Then Honda bought the team, assigned a Japanese designer who only knew how to design motorbikes and results dried up in short order...

Brawn bought the team for £1 but ran out of money around Silverstone, so had to lay off half the staff. Development predictably stalled.

Pretty much none of the problems in Jenson's early career were of his manufacturing - he was just given some dreadful cars and was told to make do.

12

if button is so good at setup,how comes he had to look at all of lewis's data to help him get back on track this season?and how come he struggled big time before he was allowed to look at lewis's data?also,at brawn,they went backwards not forwards in development.and if jenson is so good at development,how comes he was never really looked upon as a great driver earlier in his career?

13

I don't follow this logic at all. Button's second year at McLaren was considered his best season ever by many. He outscored Hamilton and finished second in the WDC behind a dominant Red Bull. This season has been less successful but he's still had two wins and there's a third of the season still to go.

The engineers lead the design of the car, not the drivers, and in any case I've seen no evidence that Hamilton is better at "leading the design front" than any other driver.

Surely Hamilton moving away would make it more likely that McLaren will build a car to suit Button's requirements, not less.

And finally comparing Button to Kovalainen or De La Rosa at McLaren is pretty ridiculous.

14

Given that McLaren apparently already take their development and to some extent set up lead from Jenso already, I don't think they have any problems there.

As for the driver front you're probably right, they will be at least a little weaker in the short term since Lewis is one of the best out there, but who knows in a couple of years.

15

@KRB, Its also well reported that McLaren were running a suspension system that just didn't work with Jensons's driving style, killing his tyres at an alarming rate.

There were other races were the McLaren was just downright slow, like Valenci and Silverstone.

16

Jenson & Lewis fundamentally understand how to drive their cars, not actually design them and modify them.

All a driver can do is advise on what he wants and needs from his car. The engineers and designers are the ones who do the actual work.

All this talk of 'Jenson's blind alley' - he said to his engineering team 'I want the car to behave like this on these tyres' and the people who are paid lots of money to use CAD & CFD tried to make it do that.

The inconsistency of the tyres and the temperature imbalance that the team experienced caused them to try various things, most of which didn't work for Jenson.

17

I hope not ... Jenson had a stretch this year of six races where he only scored 7 points!!! IN A MCLAREN!!! If he had 3-4 mechanical DNF's in there, you could understand it. But he only had one (the puncture in Bahrain while running 7th).

18

I would argue Jenson is better at setting up than Lewis is, at least based on last years results when Button was usually fastest in the race if not quali.

19

Jenson is only good at "setting-up" his team mate for a fall ! Lol & really that's what this all about.

20

Jenson admitted himself earlier this year that he went the wrong way on setup. Remember Canada when Lewis won - think he might have even lapped his team-mate who only managed to beat the hrt's - so yeah overall Jenson is awesome on setup... hmmm

21

Zoltan,

Based on belief or fact?

There were many races last year (particularly towards the end of the year when JBs race pace was superior).

Last year Lewis was burning his tyres out, while Jenson was looking after them. Its the other way around this year. The edgy operating temperatures of the various constructions this year has suited Lewis. JB now has them switched on and is showing similar if not faster race pace.

22

Button was not generally faster in the races last year at all. Lewis was in fact mostly faster in race trim but some of McLaren's bad tyre strategies for Lewis and Lewis not finishing a lot because people crashed into him / or he crashed makes it look that way.

23

What about this year, when Hamilton is usually faster in both?

24

Hamilton hasn't really shown he can develop a car yet either or for that matter a team.

He won the title (Just, from Massa) after Alonso was there the year before to develop the car for him.

So far all I've seen is Hamilton criticising and distancing himself from the team every time a problem comes around. For latest example see twitter episode.

25

So why did it need all mclaren engineers ans every tiny bit of lewis data for Button & McLaren to understand how to switch on the tyres and bring them into the right operation window?

Lewis worked it out, as the engineers- at least on Buttons side had absolutely no clue about it.

Lewis was winning the Canada GP while his team mate was lapped from him , and the engineers around Button did not know why.

Guess who is the driver who is able to set up & "develop" a car better?

26

And look at who's developing the Mercedes that Hamilton's going to be inheriting - Schumacher and Brawn. Then take a look at Mercedes' money and track record in excellence. I'd like to see the odds on him taking the title next year when this deal is announced.

There's not many combinations I'd take over that one going into the new regulations in 2014, either.

27

Alonso and Hamilton both joined McLaren in 2007...

28

Yeah, the change in reg's had NOTHING to do with it. The team that designed the 2007 car designed the 2009 car, and if anything, that 2007 car was the best car that Hamilton has had at McLaren. I guess you guys would say that Kimi had a hand in its development? Alonso has said before that that 2007 was the best car he's had, but that was the last year for traction control, etc.

The 2009 car also would've suffered as McLaren again went deep with development for the 2008 season, drawing resources away from the new car. Just like how the 2011 Ferrari suffered from Ferrari going deep on development in 2010. Where was Alonso's development then???

29

Exactly, Alonso is so good at developing the car he was able to bring 6/10ths a lap speed advantage to McLaren a year after he left the team.

30

"He won the title (Just, from Massa) after Alonso was there the year before to develop the car for him"

Nail on the head Horoldo! Look at the disaster of a car Mclaren produced for 2009- when the car was developed with sole Hamiltons imput.

31

Interesting synopsis. All points suggest that Lewis will be moving and perhaps will be wise to and better off -not just financially either.

I wasnt sure it would be a good move initially but i've come round to it. Plus wehere better to be with new 2014 engines than with a manufacturer?! A definate head start. By then Lewis will also be settled in nicely. It will definately be McLarens loss and i feel that they have mostly edged Lewis out, well Martin has. I wonder who will step in? It might suit Kimi for a year or two whilst they ready someone else? Perhaps I wont order my McLaren clothing just yet. Rocket red wins could be off the swcreens for a while. Will Lewis take the #1 car to Mercedes with him though? That would be a great welcoming present and some comfort for him as he reminisces on the 'good old days'... oh dear.

32

I don't think it's fair to say that MW or McLaren have pushed Lewis away.

Although they have a very 'corporate' image (a legacy of Ron's years at the helm). McLaren seem to me to act like understanding parents with a difficult but talented child.

When JB went to McLaren everyone thought that he'd made a massive error by going into Lewis's house. But JB's relaxed demenour helped him settle into the team & Lewis has obviously been threatened by it.

Since this time I feel it is Lewis himself who has pushed the team away, not Vice Versa.

It was interesting to speak to the McLaren guys at Goodwood this year on the Friday regarding the drivers appearence..."Jenson will be here most of the day...and Lewis is dropping in for an hour..kind of sums them up"

It was delivered with a tone of regret, not malice.

I'm a massive LH fan, I think he's probably got more natural talent than anyone else in the sport..I just feel he's taking his eye of the F1 ball...reminds me of JV going to BAR for a great deal..to go nowhere...and the scary thing is...it's the same team. 🙁

33

Actually JB went to Mclaren and pushed Lewis harder than he has ever been pushed, he beat Lewis last year and it appears Lewis ego didn't take kindly to that - same with the Belgium qualifying, Lewis just has to be first.

The Mclaren love affair is over between the two parties concerned - time to move on and move forward for all.

And who said JB made a mistake in moving to Mclaren - perhaps Lewis made an incorrect assumption on JB's ability to race him?

34

During his stint as a Chicago Bulls player Dennis Rodman had an erratic lifestyle but Phill Jackson (coach) had nothing to worry as long as Rodman performed, actually they feared that they coud piss him off trying to change his off court lifestyle and ending up screwing his performance, actually he was perfectly balanced. Maybe McLaren should let broaden their boundaries…

35

Its not natural talent to drive karts from age 4. Natural talent ala Kimi Raikkonen is evident when he can start car racing to a world champion level at a late age. Lewis is good but no natural.

36

Jenson got hired by Whitmarsh, and I think it was a mistake, lewis proof to be a better driver than Jenson, BUT Whitmarsh is his daddy, and Ron Denis WAS Lewis daddy.

Now the better drivers needs to leave the team, because Whitmarsh made a mistake in hiring Jenson, and of course Lewis is the foster child...

Whitmarsh thinks that a driver is just a driver, wrong theses are different kind of people and need to be handle in a different way, I am a good driver, but I don't get pay millions to drive, and Lewis is a special talent worth millions... when is Mclaren going to find out, that Whitmarsh is the one that needs to go somewhere else, come ON, he will let go of the best driver in the paddoc (Lewis).

I would fired Whitmarsh right away... end of rant.

37

There in lies McLaren's problem, they like 'yes men' drivers like Button, problem is Button will never win you a championship when it's a competitive season, if you have a major advantage over everyone (like Brawn) then he will.

But the team should be fully behind a driver like Lewis, difficult or not he is a driver who will win you a championship when you might not have the fastest car.

I think McLaren have handled Lewis very badly, Lewis is a world class driver, in my opinion only Alonso is on par with him, if not slightly ahead as Fernando is more complete.

Jenson is good but would never have won the title in the circumstances Lewis did and could again in the future.

38

Actually thinking about this, 2014 is unlikely to see much difference engine wise between a factory Merc engine and a customer one.

As the engines are 'locked' from development over the season (other than reliability upgrades), what are the chances of Mercedes making multiple versions of the same engine with different power outputs to sell on to customers? It's easier and cheaper for them to make one version and sell that. That exact scenario is what happened in MotoGP at the start of the 1000cc era, and it's only once development gets moving that the factory boys would benefit - but if you can't develop upgrades then the whole engine advantage is negated? Unless Mercedes don't sell customer engines and lose the funds that they attract?

James - any idea on that theory?

39

I don't think the engines will be locked from development from 2014

40

James, this article certainly gets the tongues wagging.

You make a valid point though. Lewis seemed very despondent after his victory. Almost as if he regrets signing for another team after seeing how fast the McLaren is.

However, during an interview, Lewis does respond to a failed McLaren 1-2, quoting "maybe next year."

He might have been instructed, not to act in an overly excited manner - to help his negotiations. If he seems too happy and eager it would diminish his bargaining power. If so, XIX are really screwing with this boy's head.

If he does move, it will be one of the biggest news story (for F1) to date - possibly for 2012! Wowzer!

41

The engine regulations change in 2014 (as do a few other bits and bobs), McLaren will at that point need to sort out an engine deal. As we all know, Merc make the best F1 engine, and it's no fluke that at the power circuits of Monza and Spa, that it's Merc who've dominanted.

I'd be rather smug if Lewis left McLaren; nothing to do with Lewis, but because I predicted it the morning before EJs comments:

"Lewis’ tweets this weekend were interesting, they felt like the guy was let off the corperate leash, which is a dangerous thing for a professional sports person. Given that I’m wondering if his future was decided pre-Spa and it’s not with McLaren, hence he doesn’t really care about what they think? A drive at Mercedes may make sense given Bernie’s comments about Michael not winning in his second F1 career?

Of course that may just be co-incidence, but then again this is F1, and anything is possible !"

42

McLaren have free customer engines till 2015 as part of the Works breakup agreement.

Whitmarsh has also said that unless something very strange happens, they'll probably stick with Mercedes. They certainly won't be using Ferrari or Renault power units, given their main rivals (SF & RBR) are the respective works teams.

43

I suggest checking Monza's speedtrap numbers of Lotus and RedBull (both having same engine, as we know) - maybe (if you spot that Lotus were fastest and RedBull were slowest if not counting back of the field) that would prove, that engine is only a a part of the F1 car. Also Mercedes proves to be a very fast car with "best engine" just wins nothing.

It's not Indy - engine is not enough. Even in 2014 (with more engine influence and less aerodynamics) engine alone is not going to win a title.

Also I don't get that hype with Mercedes engine for 2014 - it seems that Ferrari, Renault should be terrified because they should already know that Mercedes in 2014 would crush them? Dream on

44

Better check those results again:

Merc engine - 1st

Ferrari engine - 2nd

Ferrari engine - 3rd

Ferrari engine - 4th

Yeah, thats Merc dominating alright.

45

You make a fair point, but you're missing the complication that race pace in F1 is largely dominated by tyre wear. It's qualfication pace that gives you a real indication of engine supremity at the power circuits. Monza, gives the best example of this and we would have seen every Mercedes powered car make the top 10 in qualifying if Hulkenburg hadn't had a car issue.

I'll grant you the Ferrari engine is also good, but it's the Mercedes engine which is widely regarded as the best in the sport still.

46

Merc engine has won last 3 races, the key word there is WIN, and that's with only one McLaren finishing the last two races.

So I'd say yes, dominating.

47

And Ferrari 2 and 3 started 12th and 10th.

48

I would say that Ferrari engines were fast too (Ferrari and Sauber)

49

Ferrari are fast yes however they are a one man team sadly and that means Alonso's teammate will be a "B Spec" driver...

50

Yes, the second best engine on the grid IMO. The Mercedes KERS is the best on the grid as well though, contributing to the whole power package. If you were to put the engines on a dyno I think the Mercedes would win, Ferrari some 10hp back, and Renault even further back (perhaps as much as 20hp down). But that's only my opinion.

51

That should be Sauber and Ferrari

52

Lot of change in 2014, hard to say.

53

James,

What about 2013? Merc might come good, but I wouldn't bet too heavily on that.

If the car is (for example) a solid but distant third, ahead of Lotus again but still some way off Ferrari & Macca, how well do you think that Lewis would handle that? And how do you think Ross & the team would respond to a toy / pram interface failure moment or two?

54

What if both merc and mclaren were rubbish in the next few years?

55

James a couple of things, do you have any insights?

With the twitter fiasco. What was Hamilton trying to prove? I would have thought that the final decision on what wing to run would have been down to him... So what did he have to gain with the twitter thing other than to prove he made the wrong decision?

Do you think Hamilton's partnership with McLaren might have charted a different course if Dennis had stayed in F1? I've always thought the Hamilton/Whitmarsh partnership was a mismatch?

56

I was under the impression the wing decision was a decision from both sides of the garage as a result of the limited running in Belgium - they didn't know what to run with so ran both drivers with different setups.

Maybe it was a bit of a gaff in retrospect as they didn't have time to move Hamilton to Button's setup ahead of qualifying, but it was almost certainly a mutual decision in the team.

Hamilton wasn't told 'you're running Setup A' by Whitmarsh or anything, despite what his shirty demeanour about it may say.

57

There was no fiasco. If you follow Lewis on twitter you'll know he watched The Dictator the night before with his girlfriend NS. The next tweet was 'WTF, Jenson has new wing' etc meant as a humorous play of words from the film which was taken out of context. Finally, the famous pic of the graph plot, he wanted to share insight with his fans to show them behind the scenes and techincal reasons for the difference between his time and Jenson. I was appreciative but perhaps not his better judgement in hindsight.

58

no,he was simply saying,what he was told by his team,didnt match what was on the telemetry.he only chose to go with that wing because of what he was told.i dont think anyone showed him the telemetry until AFTER quali,thats why he was so suprised by what it showed.

59

What if Lewis thinks that McLaren knew which wing was faster and deliberately gave it him? Would they rather Button be top driver? (which would be silly, because he isn't fast enough)

60

I cannot fathom Hamilton’s demeanour after the Italian GP if James’ take on the situation proves to be incorrect. He looked like a man who has just realised the magnitude of the decision he has just taken (not necessarily regret – just sheer realisation).

From Lewis’ point of view it’s a mixed bag and we have to trust in two things. The easy thing to trust in is that he knows what he is doing more than we could ever hope to know. The second, harder thing to believe is that his first priority is still winning races and not simply celebrity. It’s hard to see why he would move to Mercedes if winning is his first priority… Or is it? Staying at McLaren he is guaranteed to win races every year but the championship? I don’t think so.

McLaren hamper their drivers by refusing to put in place team orders where they are clearly called for. F1 is a TEAM sport and I have no idea why we all seem to find this so hard to grasp and slam the teams for using every piece they have on the board to win. There is no question in my mind that Ferrari have it right. Massa let Alonso by at Monza because Alonso is their best chance of winning the wdc. It’s simple isn’t it? If I owned a team I would let the drivers race until half way through and then back one or the other of them – seems fair to me? Want the backing? Outperform your team mate.

Then there is the car, how many time in the last 4 years have McLaren given their drivers the best car in the field? Once, never – depends on your own bias how you answer this.

Also, said it before and say it again despite all the detractors – Hamilton’s insecurities mean that he needs to be overtly loved and his ego means that he needs a certain status in a team (no different from Alonso). Had I invested £50 million in Hamilton like McLaren did I would have ensured I got a return on that investment by flattering him and adoring him all he bloody-well wanted. It’s simple business. Hamilton would have thrived at Ferrari due to the overflowing passion and adoration.

I think McLaren have ‘wasted’ their time with Hamilton both by the way the work and the cars they gave him. While Hamilton has proven himself to be a difficult character: childish, difficult, unfocused and arrogant – but then he is employed to drive a race car not be a saint. McLaren’s relationship with Alonso also ended horribly – is it both the drivers fault really or is it about the way that McLaren go racing that suits the journeymen like Button and Coulthard but does not suit the best of the best?

Still, for fellow Hamilton fans out there (if he moves) it’ll be a merc engine in a merc car with a heads up on 2014 and Brawn at the helm? With McLaren’s track record of constructors and drivers championships over the past decade – is it really such a risk?

61

You raise some interesting points Wayne, but I have to disagree with you.

The Ron Dennis incarnation of McLaren (the Martin Whitmarsh era is really just an extension of this) has a rich history of nurturing and developing talented world champions. Prost, Senna and Hakkinen to name but the three most prominent.

McLaren do enact team orders. They just choose to employ two drivers capable of winning the world championship and then when one has no mathematical chance of winning it, then they play the team orders card. Ferrari do team orders in a different way. They employ only one driver capable of winning the world championship (or capable of scoring wins or podiums in post-accident Felipe Massa) and the on the rare occasions (only two or three times in the last 3 seasons) that driver 2 is ahead of driver 1, they shuffle the cards. You say that Ferrari are maximizing their chance of winning the WDC. I disagree. I believe by having two drivers capable of winning the WDC AND by being able to provide TWO cars capable of winning races, McLaren are maximizing their chance of winning BOTH the WDC and WCC championship. Ferrari are limiting their options especially if the lead car gets caught up in a number of accidents or has a number of mechanical failures in key races or if the lead driver gets injured. You can debate both ways of running a team ad-infinitum and both methods throughout the history of F1 and by both teams. In recent history you could say that McLaren lost the 2007 WDC thanks to their way of running things and Ferrari lost the 1999 WDC thanks to their way. Personally, the McLaren way sits best with my belief and passion of F1, whereas the Ferrari one car team leaves me with a slightly bitter taste in comparison. Formula 1 isn't football or rugby or any of the other ball-based team sports. In those games, you have only two teams and many players on each side. Formula One is the opposite - many teams and only two drivers per team. The mentality of the sport is completely different in my opinion, and whilst you do have two drivers per team, it is much more suited to an individualist approach, provided you don't take out your team-mate. Help them if you can, but not at the sacrifice of your own chance to win the WDC. However, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

About Lewis, I personally don't see how McLaren could have done anymore. It's adoration of Lewis in 2007 in my opinion played a big part in why the McLaren-Alonso relationship soured so quickly. They havn't always provided him with the fastest car and the pit stop issues earlier this season became a bit of a joke, but he has caused himself as many problems. Last seasons continuous accidents involving a number of drivers though most prominently Felipe Massa was ridiculous. He is massively talented, but petulant and childish. Moving to Merecedes may be the making of him, but it is a huge risk. Ironic seeing as sitting in his second place in the WDC with seven races to go after winning two of the last three and with arguably the best car and a team currently on the ascendancy, he certainly has his best chance since 2008 to add a second championship at McLaren.

62

Sebee.

"To put that ahead of drivers championships is extremely reasonable not only for the income, but for the fact that WCC is an asset they get to keep. Is there anything worse than having a driver leave and take the #1 with him? This policy also means they treat drivers equally. So what you Wayne claim is a bad strategy because it goes agains TEAM, is actually exactly the right strategy for the TEAM.

"

See my reply above!

Why do people with this argument simply ignore the fact that the team can have both if the play the team game? the wcc and the wdc are not mutually exclusive for goodness sake! Which order they finish in makes no difference to the constructors. But if they are running one behind the other in the last 1/4 of the race then swap the two about to ensure that you win the WDC as well. Why the hell is this so very difficult to understand?

If you think that team orders have not always been a part of F1 you are incredibly naive. All this 'back in my day garbage' is just that - garbage. Drivers were every bit as fragile then as they are now, and just as prone to fits of rage and petulance. Because that's simply what top sports people are like. Their mindset is a razor's edge, they are focused and driven beyond what you or I understand and this magnifies every manifestation of their personality which in turn magnifies every little obstacle and insecurity.

The fact is that sports psychology now exists and is incredibly important in getting the best from your 50 million investment.

Where. WHERE is the sense in investing 50 million in a driver and then saying not doing everything you can to get the best out of him? Whatever he believes will make him happier and more secure and faster? It is utter insanity to turn around and say you cannot have pink diamond studded jock strap because we don't like pink as a team. Juts like it is insanity to allow one driver to take 25 points that do not help the team win the wdc when they could be given to the other with NO cost to the constructors.

In football players pass the ball sometimes, even if they have a shot at goal. They pass the ball because their TEAMmate has a better shot at the goal. This is how teams all over the planet work. What is this garbage about F1 being different? It's idealistic tosh and totally incompatible with every team's reason for existing.

McLaren constantly say 'we exist to win' not 'we exist to win wccs' - why not win all you can? Quite apart from anything else, team orders are legal in F1 – a legitimate way of benefitting your team. To not take advantage of that is beyond stubborn when you pay 500 million per year to hope to circulate ½ a second faster than the next guy!

63

Wayne,

You mean mathematically no chance to win WDC.

We've bumped ideas last few weeks. And you can't possibly take the road here to claim divine knowledge of.sports figures. Sport psychologists are wrong about these guys.

I know you want to be right, as do I. All I propose to you is the recognition that like most things in life, coins have two sides. And there is no single right way to approach F1. The more I think about it the more I realize that maclaren is in it for the constructors championship first, because they want the prize money. This is why they are okay with treating drivers equally. Ferrari on the other hand are guaranteed large prize money annually in their agreement with Bernie for that reason the focus is strictly on the driver championship. Once you accept the reality you can understand the 2 different approaches

64

Ron Dennis deserves tremendous credit for recognising, twenty or so years ago, that he needed to grow the business or brand in order to bring in sponsors keep the race team strong. You only need to look at Williams to see what would have happened had he not done this.

A corporate structure has built up from this though and I do agree that it helps explain why they seem to struggle with drivers. Steve Cooper (then a journalist, now coincidentally enough a McLaren employee!) made this point best I think when discussing Juan Pablo Montoya back in 2005! He wrote that in McLaren's ideal world the team will build a great car into which the driver will simply go out and do his job - i.e. deliver victory, before thanking team and partners for their contribution. Montoya, at the other end of the extreme, was said to feel the role of the team was to give him the bare bones (the car), from which he improvised a victory!

The reality is, of course, between the two. McLaren may be closer than Montoya, but delicate man-management of the racing driver (a unique breed) is still important and I think at times this has failed them. Tbf, I think Whitmarsh has tried to give Lewis some leeway, but I think his hands are tied to a degree lest it upsets Jenson. A lot of credit has to go to Jenson for this; if Lewis had dominated him then Whitmarsh could maybe have indulged Lewis more, but because the gap has been closer the balancing act of keeping both drivers happy is finer. The team needed to help Lewis through his tough times in 2011, but they could hardly desert Jenson when he was racking up all those points. For all their faults - it's not been an easy task for McLaren.

65

Nick thanks for posting he first rude reply in about 30. Congratulations on that. Others have disagreed, note how they did not feel it necessary to be insulting? There's a lesson to learn there if you can see it.

Your comments demonstrate that you have no concept or clue about how top sportsmen and women work - in any sport.

Also, I would only expect a TEAMmate to pull over for his TEAMmate if he realistically has no chnace of winning. Note the word TEAM here? It's how a lot of sports work.

66

Nick Reply:

September 12th, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Well, at least someone here sees the other side. I'm with you!

Welcome to generation X or Y or whatever the heck 20 somethigns are called today. Cuddled, protected, shaltered.

If I may recall a note I made a while back, about how the previous generation of Prosts, Sennas, Schumis were men, and this generation is mostly kids. They did their own dirty work, and handled their own matters, not cried about it.

I'm also going to repeat a simple truth about McLaren which I think is accurate. They are in it to be profitable. Constructors championship brings big $$$ rewards. To put that ahead of drivers championships is extremely reasonable not only for the income, but for the fact that WCC is an asset they get to keep. Is there anything worse than having a driver leave and take the #1 with him? This policy also means they treat drivers equaly. So what you Wayne claim is a bad strategy because it goes agains TEAM, is actually exactly the right strategy for the TEAM.

McLaren may not deliver the WDC to Lewis this year, but they sure as heck are going to focus on that WCC and get paid well for claiming it. And while there is a PR value in WDC as you say, in McLaren's eyes there is even more value in WCC - becuase it declares them the most successful TEAM on the grid.

67

Some good points, and it's certainly arguably the case that Lewis may feel he hasn't had the emotional support he perhaps needs, like say Alonso at Ferrari has.

However, I disagree he's suffered due to not being made a number 1 driver. If total team orders were in place this year you can argue Hamilton has lost but 10 points, through not being given Button's victory (when he was still in 2nd place) in Melbourne, that's it (forgive me if I'm wrong). But no team would force a driver to give up a victory like that in the first race, not even Ferrari with Massa/Alonso due to the political nightmare. (And Hakkinen/Coulthard was different as it was a driver pact.)

Every team strives to provide - as they should - each driver equal equipment. You mention it's a TEAM sport but as we know, every team cares most about winning the Constructors' Championship first and foremost, and look where Ferrari are with their situation of having a no.2 driver?! Fans care about the Drivers' Championship but not the teams, which is expected. So you can't have a one car team to succeed. It's the drivers responsibility to dominant his team mate to earn the number 1 status.

I don't think Hamilton would ever think his lack of success is due to not being no1; he doesn't worry about Button I'm sure.

Lack of success has been due to McLaren not building a Red Bull-like dominant car, plus Hamilton not currently being a complete enough driver; he is prone to making quite a few mistakes as happened through 2010 and 2011. He has great natural talent but doesn't have Alonso's level of completeness yet. Additionally, McLaren haven't performed particularly great operationally. But is Mercedes massively better on all these fronts? The 09 Brawn car aside (achieved through massive early Honda investment), they haven't performed as well technically as McLaren.

I think it's unfair for others to say McLaren have wasted their opportunity with Hamilton. It's very competitive these days. They've made mistakes and not built a season long dominant car, but that's the way it goes. Hamilton has to take some responsibility has his attitude at times as well, though I appreciate it's been tough with all the scrutiny. Also the press have often being extremely unfair and frequently look for ways to find faults. Ironically though, that is part due to his celebrity draw, yet it appears part of the reason to move to Mercedes is to allow him to expand on his celebrity status! That's not conducive to him having an easier time to focus on racing!

In terms of opportunity for Championship success, I still think it's a mistake leaving a seat like McLaren, but perhaps the change and fresh start is an emotional necessity for Lewis. Like with any job or task in life, you have to have your heart in it and feel emotionally secure to succeed.

68

Wayne

What an absolute load of utter tosh!

You say that drivers like Hamilton and Alonso are the best ever drivers in the world, and get paid a ridiculous amount of money because of that.

Yet you go on to say that they they only thrive if they get their egos stroked and their team mates get told to move over and get out of their way.

They get paid huge amounts of money to do a job - they should bloody well go out and do it!

To sit there and say, 'Gee wiz, thanks for the £50M, but you didn't tell me I was the greatest every single day, you didn't cuddle me like mum used to and you didn't tell Jenson to pull over and let me pass so sorry, I didn't give you £50M worth'.

Are you even serious?

There is no way on this earth ANYONE can be considered the best if their biggest rival (the team mate driving the same equipment) is told to move over and let them pass.

This idea, attitude and practice amazes and disgusts me!

These people aren't children - they are professional sportsmen for crying out loud!

How you mindless Alonso and Hamilton fans can call them the 'Best of the Best' is testament that most of you lot are as lost and deluded as your idols!

69

@JCC

You're talking two distinct questions there - Button won't help Hamilton win the championship, because he can statistically do it himself, but Hamilton was willing to help Button win the race because statistically it was all he could do because of his setup.

If the roles were reversed, they'd say the same thing.

71

Why people think Lewis is all about "celebrity"? Because he dates a popstar? Because he wears "bling" on his ears? Because he's friend of Pharrell Williams and the like?

After all I think he's just a driver who wants to win and wants be paid according to how he and his team values "Lewis Hamilton Brand". Why arrogant? S you think Jenson is arrogant because he says he will not be helping Lewis because he still can win the title? whn the week before qualified 8th Hamilton said he would try help Jenson win the race at Spa?

72

We may also want to tag on here the 40+ points the team cost Hamilton at the start of the season. Must be soul destroying to go away for the winter, come back more grounded and focused and drive the car with a new maturity and then watch the pantomime of constant pit errors etc unfold around you.

During this period Whitmarsh appeared to be totally impotent as a team manager to me.

Funniest thing? The race where they made a huge song and dance about recording the fastest pit stop in history and then cost Hamilton around 4 seconds in his very next stop. Yet they still had the gaul to sing about shaving .2 of a second of the record despite achieving a nett loss on pit stops of around 3.8 seconds for the day!

I know human beings will make mistakes and there is no getting around it (Lewis has made his share for sure) but this period of gaffes was so consistent and sustained as to be almost unheard of, and for me is the reason why Hamilton might just fail to catch Alonso this year. This takes nothing away from Alonso's excellence this season.

73

For those guys taking issue with the team orders thing from the point of view that teams care most about the Constructors....

You may well be right, maybe they do care more about the constructors but you are vastly underestimating the marketing and PR value of having the world champion in their team, on all their merchandise and in all their sponsors' adverts on TV all over the world.

Why on earth not have both championships if you possible can? You are investing 500 million in a team in the hope that it will go 1/2 a second faster than the rest yet throw away WDC's on a bloody principle that the rest of the field quite rightly does not give a jot about?

That way lies utter madness.

74

Hi Wayne

Very well deciphered. Loved the comment. You are bang on the money on this one i think.

Mercedes may actually not be such a risk. Might pan out really well come 2014.

75

Wayne

I agree with every word that you have said in this and later posts.

McLaren have wasted a great opportunity if they let Hamiliton go without realising his full potential.

Ron Dennis looked very one dimensional on Sunday. My one fear is that Mr E is yet again playing power politics with a by product of making Ron Dennis look inadequate.

Certainly I have thought for some time that Martin Whitmarsh's Plan A was to get Lewis out of the team. For an intelligent man he does seem on occasion to be several gears short of a full box. Spa for the second year running he seemed out of his depth. He was right.

Ross Brawn & Norbert Haugh v Ron Dennis & Martin Whitmarsh.

I do hope that Lewis goes to Mercedes.

Siddle

76

Wayne, your description of Hamo is very good but you missed out one other term-- "Spoilt"!

PK.

77

As much as I'd have loved to have seen Hamilton remain at McLaren I'm for one am glad that this saga is appears to be coming to an end. Lewis treated McLaren as his own and in the end had no desire to be a Team player. Had he done so, it would have been easier to make the decision to enforce team orders. Having said all that, I can't help thinking that this is about the money, rather than ambition.

78

Frank Williams said he’d rather win the constructers table because it represents the team. That is where the TEAM sport lies. The drivers have their battle and they should be man enough to do it without help from their team-mate if they want to win with total credibility.

79

Nail on the head there, you speak such sense. Are you on twitter? @villa_dann

80

"To understand McLaren you need to understand that they are driven firstly by winning races. Not by championships. Ron even said this on Sunday. That’s why they still go for the win when the championship is out of reach. Once you understand this it’s easy to see why they don’t entertain team orders. That’s why I think they’re brilliant"

Gareth, your insight into McLaren is most welcome and revealing, thank you. If this is the case it rather suggests that they sacrafice the ambition of their drivers on the alter of their own corporate agenda. And hey, it's thier team so they can have whatever agenda they want but it does not seem fair to all the drivers out there who dream of emulating the greats and their multiple championships. It's championships that drivers dream of - maybe this is why mcLaren have proven to be incompatible with the two best drivers in the world in Alosno and Hamilton.

81

Wheels, thanks for such a great reply.

82

I remember when McLaren were "Team McLaren" and hated it when they changed - for marketing purpo$e$.

Tim

83

Great insight Wayne!

I'll say this--one thing that I've noticed since Lewis Hamilton burst on the Grand Prix scene in 07. That's the lack of overall recognition (both media and F1 fans) given to the, absolutely, awesome pressure that this young man has had to endure, while trying focus on his craft.

I've been following Grand Prix racing for all of four decades, and in my memory I cannot recall a driver who has enjoyed such success, at the same time, being vilified and pressured in the manner Lewis has faced.

On top of that, he has had to live up to the immense expectations of the motor racing fans and media that his talents have dictated.

I recollect that one driver--James Hunt faced something in a similar way to the negative press and animosity, due to his rebellious character and non-conformist behavior, that Hamilton has suffered. However, Hunt's tabloid adversity was a mere drop in the bucket compared to what Lewis deals with....

If I remember correctly, only ex-F1 driver Hans Stuck of Germany commented to the media, back in 07, about the, all-out, pressure assault aspect of Hamilton's instant F1 stardom.

Personally, Wayne, I think that all of the adjectives you use to describe Hamilton's wayward behavior are a direct consequence of the intense stress this young man faces, day in and day out, during the Grand Prix season.

Having to balance his professionalism, his racial identity, the needs of sponsors along with the corporate image, and his world-wide image, would certainly be an immense load for any human being to live up to....

But then, there is also the expectations of Team McLaren and his responsibilities to his employers, add to this his attraction to other F1 team managers, plus the focus obviously needed for his burning desire to be successful, for winning, and being F1 World Champion.

Although, every driver placed on the F1 grid faces most of these these challenges, Lewis has the added burden of his ethnicity, history, and overwhelming talent weighing on him.

In my opinion, that's what sets Lewis Hamilton apart from his other contemporaries in the Grand Prix paddock and, indeed, makes his F1 career that much more burdensome.

84

Regarding track record of constructors and drivers championships over the past decade as you describe McLaren is very poor, but they have won 46 races in this time. If you take as basis since 2010 when Mercedes got Brawn, McLaren has won 16 races till now and Mercedes just 1. Mercedes record is poorer then McLaren about victories. Honda, BMW,Toyota, Porsche among others powerful car makers companies have failed in their task to succeed as brand name in this sport which Ferrari is dominant. We all know Hamilton's abilities with a good car, but we just do not know IF Mercedes will be able to deliver a winner car to Lewis even in three year range. Hamilton needs to decide what he wants to be: A race winner or a pop star and the evidences have shown just one of this options. Good luck Lewis.

85

To understand McLaren you need to understand that they are driven firstly by winning races. Not by championships. Ron even said this on Sunday. That's why they still go for the win when the championship is out of reach. Once you understand this it's easy to see why they don't entertain team orders. That's why I think they're brilliant.

This concept is completely at odds with Ferrari.

86

Wow! What an interesting and well thought out comment, (should be a Jorno). I think at this stage of Hamiltons career a change to Merc will provide the stimulus he needs. His next 5 years are when he will be in his prime and most potent. I think the added experience of helping Merc build a championship car and team, will make them dominant over the next decade.

87

Exactly my thoughts, thanks.

88

Just taking up on the TLC argument once more ... why does McLaren find it difficult to TLC their drivers? The same points that a driver wins goes toward the Constructors Championship so realistically, the team has equal responsibility to work for those points. Why does this team feel that it is all the driver's responsibility and none for the team? Ron Dennis seems to be wired towards putting drivers down - he takes their trophies, denies them personal sponsorship, doesn't prioritise them winning WDCs - hell, it seems like it is policy at McLaren to treat drivers badly!

89

Wayne,

Whilst I can see where you're coming from, I (along with Martin Whitmarsh) think that the way McLaren race is both fair and sporting..and people watch F1 because it is a SPORT!

Allowing both your drivers to race gives their victories a credibility that Ferrari 'A' drivers just don't have (not wishing to take anything away from FA's great driving this season).

It's interesting that Lewis is also against team orders & doesn't want Button to help him...because if he win's the WDC, he'll have earn't it!

For me this is the reason I love McLaren & have little respect for Ferrari.

Coulthard knows that the reason he didn't win a WDC was that he wasn't good enough...the same cannot be said for Ferrari's 'B' drivers.

Sure, when it comes down to the wire & only one driver can win then the 'Team' game can be played...to play it that way from the start of the season, as Ferrari do, in my opinion risks damaging the sport as much as it damages the 'B' drivers!

I do agree with you however that Ferrari would be a great home for Lewis Hamilton...I'm just not sure about Mercedes.

It'll be a sad day if/when he leaves McLaren...but I think they'll fair better than Lewis....certainly in the short term.

90

@Enzo - the Mercedes team are Brackley boys, not Stuttgart boys 😉

91

I don't think Lewis is really a tender loving care type of guy. He looks that way because the media has worked hard to potray him that way. At those moments when people tend to provide a less sensational view of his life, I find him more like Schumacher or Vettel in the sense that he, like them, expects to be given undevided support when he are performing. Frankly there is alot of grey between Ferrari and McLaren for Lewis to drop in comfortably at Mercedes.

Should he leave McLaren or not - well, the alternative could be another 5 years in the same team which is just not realistic. None of the drivers on the grid have spent as much time in the same team as Lewis has spent at McLaren so it should just be natural that a change was inevitable.

92

Fully agree on that

93

Nice one. The part that really caught my eye was the one where you draw parallels between Lewis's and Fernando's relationship with the team. I am not sure whose fault was it in 2007 that made Fernando leave but if Lewis goes to Merc then obviously something is wrong in the way McLaren operate. They don't know what their drivers want.

And we are not even talking about "just" drivers. Its Fernando and Lewis - arguably the best drivers ever to sit in cockpit of an F1 car.

Lewis was never going to miss out on anything. He will win driving for Merc too. I am sure of that. However, it will be fascinating to see how McLaren fare without Lewis.

94

Well said: every point is bang on in my opinion. Except I think Mclaren had the best car when Hamilton got his first championship and I think that this year, Mclaren is currently at the top car-wise after some early jitters (Maybe Ferrari have moved up as well). Mclaren talks about being able to manage drivers well but has that ever really born out (in the public eye at least)?.

96
Antonio Palmiotto

Wait until he finds himself midfield wheel to wheel with maldonado...

97

couldnt have put it better myself, when Mclaren made their bed with Hamilton in 2007 their had a No.1 driver at their disposal for the next 15 years potentially but have squandered his talent.

Not to say Lewis isnt blameless, it will be a shame he if squanders his talent away for iamge rights and $$$$$$'s

98

Disagree that Button is a journeyman. He's a world champion!!!

99

Enzo, it may not come naturally to them! But they may well make the effort to extract the most from their massive investment. All they have to do is what Ferrari do with Alonso - effectively worship him and give him number one status (only at the point where he earns it every year by beating his team mate) when deserved and it's in their interests to do so for the championship - and I reckon he'll repay them with his best form to date.

100

Totally agree with everything u just said, i think u hit the nail on the head totally... 😉

101

Really enjoyed your comment, thanks for that.

But if Lewis moves to Mercedes, do you think it will be "tender love and care" with the Stuttgart boys?

102

Exactly, New engine regs in 2014 is a roll of the dice.

He's got more chance of a championship in 2013 with Mclaren.

He wont go this year.

103

Button may be a world champion, but probably the weakest one on activity. Even Barichello could have won with the Brawn car.And if it s true that Hamilton has been proposed less than his team mate, i can understand why he unhappy at mclaren. i always been a fan of mclaren but to see them loosing the title every year and keeping this absurd policy of team orders is absolut non sens. Do people seriously believe that Red bull didn t favour vettel in order to win the titles. there is plenty of different way of slowing down a car from the pit..everybody agree to say that Alonso is the best driver out there but without team orders he wouldn t stand a chance.so for Hamilton Mercedes still better than mclaren despite the difference of performance, specially if you consider the regulations change and engine fees...

104

@James Clayton: It’s not a case of “go this year or next year” it’s “go now or not at all”.

I think you're on to something here - maybe it's the length of the contracts that's the sticking point. Contract speculation consensus seems to be, 5 years with Mclaren or 3 with Mercedes. Usually last year get out clause for duff performances [on both sides] mitigates these to 4 and 2 years. Four years down the line LH will have served 10 years with Mclaren [in F1]! Where does he go from there?

Also, what are Mclaren likely to produce in the next 2 years. I understand Mclaren run alternate design teams - well - cars from 2009/2011 both struggled [particularly 2009] in the early part of the season. Does that bode well for 2013? I don't know if the design team's the same as 2009/2011 but LH will. 2014 is gonna be a lottery but Ross Brawn have form in these circumstances.

So on balance switching to Mercedes for at least a couple of years is probably a fair risk and he can emerge with an F1 career that has more possibilities or risk the Mclaren option souring ever so slightly year on year if they under perform each others' expectations.

105

Mercedes aren't doing great this year but we have seen what Ross Brawn can do given a year or so of development at the expense of current performance - remember how bad the last Honda was before it became the all-conquering Brawn? RB knew how good the car was going to be out of the box which is why he formed the team - and so did Mercedes who, I suspect, had more than a small part in making that happen.

I wonder if Mercedes are limiting development this year to build a better car for next year, possibly even 2014, and LH knows it. They will HAVE to deliver a championship winning car quickly because if they don't, LH will be remembered as the driver who chased the money not the titles.

106

It'd be crazy to go to Mercedes next year when they're peforming so badly this year. 2014 is anyones guess. So to say the first year to be down and the second year to try and achieve a title is not a great theory.

Especially for someone like Lewis who already feels he's been let down by the machinery.

He'll be at Mclaren next year and the for the foreseable.

107

It's not a case of "go this year or next year" it's "go now or not at all". McLaren aren't going to give Lewis a one year contract, and Mercedees want him next year.

I still see Lewis finishing his career at McLaren. I have a feeling he'll come back to them for a couple of seasons before he retires (providing they remain competitive)

108

For 2014, the Mercedes team sounds like the wisest place to be!

109
Warren Groenewald

McLaren will still have Mercedes engines until 2014 and aero will still play a big part.

There's also no guarentee that Merc will have the best engine then.

110

Reading this, it was only at the end that it sunk in that it wasn't confirmed

111

Why would Hamilton be so glum if he'd just signed a contract with Mercedes? He wouldn't. No, I believe he realized the McLaren doesn't want him. I further believe that no other team is knocking on his door. He wins only when conditions are exactly right for him. That isn't the mark of a true champion.

112

I know, Hamilton is only capable of winning when conditions are exactly right for him, like when he has the fastest car, or when he doesn't have the fastest race car (like Hungary this year), or when it's pouring with rain (like Fuji 2007), or when it's tricky changeable conditions (like Monaco 2008), or when he has to fight through the field with overtaking moves (like Hockenheim 2008), or when it's a slow twisty street circuit (like Singapore 2009) or when it's a low downforce circuit (like Monza) or when it's a circuit that requires commitment and speed through classic sweeping turns (like Spa 2010) or when he's under pressure from his two-time world champion teammate in his debut season (like Indy 2007) or when he's in the heat of a title battle under pressure to perform at the race he pretty much lost the world championship the year before (like China 2008).

He's so one-dimensional.

114

I know, right, ridiculous isn't it. Same old same old from this poster.

115

I agree, if McLaren do not want him, he only has himself to blame. After all, without McLaren investing in him, Hamilton would never have made to Formula One. Hamilton's actions in Spa were deplorable. McLaren owe him nothing!

116

Yes, but without McLaren's initially investment when he was a teenager, he would never have been able to do a deal with Williams. Yes, you could argue that without Hamilton, McLaren would not have won a world championship for over 10 years years. However, it is likely that without Hamilton, Alonso would have won both the 2007 and 2008, as he would have had a dominant role within the team.

117

Hamilton brought McLaren their only world championship in the last 12 years, without him their record over the last decade would look particularly mediocre.

118

Well that's interesting because when McLaren dropped Lewis in 2004 because of a disagreement Williams snatched him up straight away and were to bring Lewis into Formula 1 but McLaren realized their mistake begged him to sign with them instead.

119

He wins only when conditions are exactly right for him?

Are you talking about Jenson Button? You can't be talking about Lewis Hamilton.

If you are then you're pretty much contradicting every statement Fernando Alonso has made with regards to who are the drivers that can make a difference when the chips are down. I'm sure Fernando knows what he is talking about. Even when Lewis was having his very well publicised meltdown last year, he was still winning races. Three in fact.

120

I disagree, stats show that LH out performed JB in most categories in 2011.

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/statistics/2011-f1-statistics/

Unfortunately points are only earned at the finish line but stats will tell you who's a better driver.

121

Many regarded 2011 as Button's best year, and Lewis' worst. Yet both won 3x, and in terms of swashbuckling wins, I think you'd have to score it 2-1 for Lewis (China & Germany for LH vs. Canada for JB). Of course Button scooped up 12 podiums last year, which was very impressive.

122

I didn't realise it was unconfirmed until I read this comment... Perhaps a question mark in the title would be good?

123

He's "set" to move... that's one step after "on your marks" but still one step away from "go" 🙂

125

I agree. James should know better.

126

Turned out right though, didn't it?

127

Well I thought Lewis' comments on the slowing down lap were significant, he thanked the team "for this opportunity". Very unusual language, unless he knows he's leaving. Otherwise he'd thank them for their part in the win.

128

I thought it was significant too. It made me think of so many earlier times when Ron Dennis would reply to accusations of preferring to see one of his drivers win over the other by just saying each driver at McLaren was given the same opportunity to race. Which always seemed to be deliberately missing the point.

Here, I wondered if Hamilton's comment was as significant for what he *didn't* say as for what he did. That he felt the opportunity to drive the car was all he was getting, and nothing in the way of support. There was a similar turn of phrase in the quali press conference:

"I haven't had any distractions this weekend so it's been quite positive. The support from my family and friends, as always, has been incredible,"

Support from family & friends... but from his team? Interesting and kind of sad.

129

Lewis said in an interview (iMO after canada Gp)he always thanks Ron Dennis and the team after every victory for the opportunity they gave him. Maybe we just never heard it before on the radio.It was not the only thing he said at Italy to his crew over the radio, it wa just a part of it.

130

Those were my thoughts also

131

It's very clear all the way through that this is my read on it - of course it hasn't been confirmed!

It actually says "If and when confirmed" at one point.

132

I have to agree with 'Paul', James; the lack of a question mark, at the end of the title, made me start reading this article thinking that the deal HAD been confirmed.

133

I would have gone with "Hamilton LOOKS set to move to Mercedes". When I read the headline I thought it was a news item, and again like others have said it took me until about half way through before I realised it was an opinion.

Great piece, though.

134

I agree. "JA On Why Merc Switch Makes Most Sense For Brand LH" or words to that effect would have been clearer. I shouted it out, only having to backtrack rather sheepishly soon after. The title is misleading. I call linkbait.

135

It almost feels that this story was planted, took on a life of its own, and will eventually force both sides to make it true.

I think it was XIX that dropped the story into Jordan's ear as that benefits them and it benefits Lewis. I bet Lewis didn't know it was coming. I also think McLaren are weary of the constant media furor over Lewis--whether he's leaving, how he's acting, what he's tweeting, how his romantic life is affecting him on track. You can see a certain resignation in them that he's just not worth it, even if he's the fastest guy in an F1 car, full stop.

I'm guessing McLaren will make their final offer to Lewis this week. We'll know by the next race if he goes for it. What a way to leave -- challenging and perhaps even winning the WDC.

136

Very interesting point, quite Machiavellian if it happened that way...story planted by XIX, neither side can blink first & it takes on a life of its own...still more fun to watch the actual driving once the lights go out, though...:)

137

There's always a lot of drama in F1 about stuff like this.

I think they must be used to it by now and even enjoy it.

It'd be pretty immature of any team to just decide a top driver's not worth the hassel.

And there's no such thing as bad publicity.

138

Change the title then!

This article is very misleading. A single line buried 3/4 of the way down is not good enough.

Poor show.

139

No it's not. It's true.

140

It reads really well for me. Brilliant insight as always James.

141

A question mark at the end of the title might assist 🙂

142

And maybe a picture of Hamilton with shifty eyes, so we know he's up to something!

143

I don't think it's a wise move: you can be a worldwide brand as long as you deliver in what you are involved in, and i don't think this hasn't happened at mercedes because of Nico and Michael. McLaren is maybe the most committed and skillful organization when it comes to project and development engineering, albeit the opposite is true regarding political weight. There will always be a McL without LH, i'm not that sure of the opposite.

144

Think of David Beckham going to the US. A backward step for his sporting career, yes, but he opened the door to a whole new career and revenue stream. Even though he's well past his prime the attention he recieves is staggering, and I dare say he earns more now than when he played for Real Madrid or Man Utd.

It's not smart from a sporting perspective for Lewis to go to Mercedes, but from a 'life' perspective? It's a move that has the potential to set up his family for several generations. That's hard to ignore for anyone with a bit of common sense.

145
Antonio Palmiotto

Well, i'd see it differently: what if david beckham had signed for, let's say, rangers glasgow when he was 25? Money would have been ok, but would he have been a global star? Would anyone have called it in the national team? Would he have won any other thing? And would he have gone straight to the history books but for an ill judged move? In my opinion, no.

146

Following the football analogy s'more, Alan Shearer had a chance to go from Southampton to Man Utd, instead of Blackburn. He won with Rovers (and I'm glad such a great player won at least one title), but then went close with Newcastle, but never won the league again. How many winners' medals would he have had with Man Utd?

I say all this as a long-suffering Reds fan.

147

On the face of it a massive backward step for LH but with the ever cooler relationship at McLaren it was always going to be him or MW to leave. In the medium term this may well re-ignite him

148

I'm not sure it's a backward step at all to be honest. McLaren's track record of delivering Drivers and Constructors championships over the past decade is appalling. Yes, staying at McLAren, Lewis was sure to win a race or two each season - but the championship? No.

149

I'd have to say that having considered it I tend to agree with you. For whatever reason he's increasingly marginalised in the team JB's refusal to support his championship fight, MW's coolness towards him all imply the relationship is over. His best chance of future success lies with building a team around him as No1 driver in the same way Alonso has. Financial future of McLaaren is also far from rosey with Vodaphone moving on... imagine if they followed him to mercedes too 😉

150

Wayne, you keep ploughing this line about McLaren not winning Championships, and of course you are right.

But who HAS won championships in that time? Not that many teams... 5 in fact (and thats including the Brawn anomaly), and that is more than in any point in history really.

Working backwards:

Red Bull 2,

Mercedes (as Brawn) 1,

Mclaren 1,

Ferrari 4,

Renault 2.

Extend it to 25 years and its still only 6 teams (add Williams), when way over 30 have competed in that time, for what it is worth Mclaren have won 10 in that time.

All time only 15 teams have won the title, with one team Renault/Benneton having won it under two different names.

I only post all this because it is incredibly rare to be a championship winning team, and Mclaren have produced championship contenders nearly every season in the last 10 years.

2002 - DC 5th

2003 - Kimi 2nd (decided in last race)

2004 - Kimi 7th (one of only two non Ferrari wins that year though)

2005 - Kimi 2nd

2006 - Kimi 5th

2007 - Lewis 2nd, Alonso 3rd (tied 1 point behind, decided in last race) - one could argue Lewis beaching a car in the gravel in the pit entry cost him the title

2008 - Lewis 1st

2009 - Lewis 5th, a dog that Lewis developed for two wins

2010 - Lewis 4th (16 points off the title, having crashed out in Italy and Singapore)

2011 - Button 2nd

Lewis has been incredibly lucky to have the cars he has had!

151

In 2007 he could (arguably should) have won the title in China, but the team has to take some of the blame for leaving him out so long, and at Brazil it was an engine misfire that cost him, that can't be blamed on him.

Yes he could have won the title in 2010, but they weren't really competitive with Red Bull over the course of the season. Vettel would have cantered to the title if unreliability hadn't cost him 3 wins, not to mention all his other errors.

And to say McLaren had a championship contending car in 2011 is just a joke surely...

152

No Wayne it isn't a case of luck in terms of his ability, he is incredibly gifted, that is down to his own hard work as much as his natural talent. However, it is a case of luck in terms of the fact that Dennis picked him up and nurtured him for years, then gave him cars in which he could compete for the Drivers title in all but two years of his F1 career so far. Most F1 drivers rarely get the chance to compete for a title more than once, let alone in two thirds of their seasons in F1, even the best drivers like the great Senna and Prost didn't have cars capable of winning a championship as regularly as Lewis has.

Additionally, i ignore the Constructors titles because you keep saying LEWIS won't win a Championship at Mclaren, i assumed you therefore meant a drivers championship, as Lewis didn't grow up dreaming of winning numerous constructors championships.

You are right in the fact Ferrari outscore Mclaren 4-1 in the last 10 years, 3 of which were at the start of the 10 year period. But that is largely irrelevant in the context of you saying Lewis is better off at Mercedes isn't it??

Additionally Mclaren and Ferrari are consistently the two dominant teams in F1, between them they have won over 50% of the races they have both been entered into. And the fact that both teams have been competitive in the drivers championship in 6 or 7 of the last 10 years (Mclaren 03,05,07,08,10,11?,12), in one of the most unpredictable eras in F1 history, is a credit to them both. Where have the Brackley Mercedes team been in that time??

153

It's not really a case of luck is it? He would not be in a McLaren at all if he were not as good as he is.

Your own stats indicate that Ferrari have outscored McLaren at a rate of 4-1. Additionally you make no mention of constructors titles of which McLaren have managed 0.

154

Lewis has been incredibly lucky to have the cars he has had!

Just to add to this, not only has he been lucky, but he really should have 3 titles to his name now.

In 2010 the Mclaren let him down once (gearbox in Hungary), he had a puncture in Spain and he had 2011 style crashes twice.

In 2007, as a rookie, he beached the car in the gravel when the title was in his hands.

And what exactly have Merc/Brawn/Honda/BAR produced in those 10 years?? A title and a 3rd, both, ironically, for Button.

155

"McLaren’s track record of delivering Drivers and Constructors championships over the past decade is appalling."

The team cannot "deliver championships" no matter how much they want to. The teams' main job is to deliver a package able of winning. The rest is up to the drivers. Mclaren have delivered championship winning packages more than once, since 2007. Hamilton has managed to score once, barely, competing with Massa...

156

Since Hakkinen's world titles, Coulthard, Raikkonen, Montoya, Alonso, Hamilton, Kovalainen and Button have all driven for McLaren. Are you seriously telling me they all "underdelivered"?

When you have had such a string of top level drivers but such a poor return in terms of drivers and constructors titles, I think you have to lay the blame at the door of the team rather than the drivers. If McLaren had been dominating (a la Schumacher) and then Hamilton came in and the team stopped winning, you could make a case for him underperforming. But that's not the case - in fact the opposite is true, Hamilton is the only one to have sealed the deal.

For one of F1s leading teams, McLaren's recent track record at winning titles is very poor. And I'm a McLaren fan...

157

Love the way this totally ignores the years where McLaren started with a car a second off the pace, and when it only because competitive in the latter half of the season, or when it may have been second to a RBR but a full second slower!

Hamilton has indeed made many mistakes, but he has also won many races despite the car he was given. It's generally thought that even in his WDC year the McLaren was slightly slower than the Ferrari on average across the season. What year did McLaren give Lewis the fastest car?

This year? Well maybe, but then they went and cost him 40+ points in operation errors at the start of the season didn't they?

158

2007 and 2008 were the best cars he's driven. But in 2008 the Ferrari was clearly faster (see Kimi's 10 fastest laps set that year in it). Massa was decent back then, and should really have sailed to that title. He had misfortune, mistakes, etc., but even with all that Massa still should've won.

As I say time and time again, since 1986, no driver has won the DWC with their teammate finishing lower than 5th. Kovaleinen was 7th in 2008 when Lewis won. Both Lewis and Fernando have the chance to do that this season.

159

+1. Hamilton has made many mistakes during those few years

160
Warren Groenewald

Not many drivers have had the luxury of race winning cars in every single year of their career so far.

A lack of championships cant all be placed at the door the team - Hamilton might be fast but he has the same win it or bin it attitude that Raikkonen used to have.

161

Raikkonen lost out on world titles in 2003 and 2005 due to mechanical failures, not because he "binned it".

And Hamilton hasn't "binned it" at all this season.

162

Its still a considerably stronger record than the Brackley teams record since they came into existence in '99.

163

@Optimaximal, I suggest you pay closer attention to history yourself. British American Tobaco and it's cohorts bought Tyrrell in 97 and Pollock pretty quickly decided that the only thing he wanted to keep was the entry, creating a new base and recruiting an all new staff. By the time he'd come to realise that the Tyrrell team was actually pretty good, if underfunded, and that he should keep them the majority had already signed on to Honda's development team for '99. Despite being overweight that car was capable of lapping Barcelona as fast as the Benetton or Williams, making it a damn site better than the BAR 001.

My point is that it was a start up operation since they kept nothing of Tyrrell but the automatic entry. Since then as BAR and Honda they've had a history of mismanagement and since becoming Mercedes have dithered about how much they really want to spend. The result of the teams incessant cutbacks and hirings has been 3 poor cars and a team that's only now starting to gel.

164

The 'Brackley team' didn't 'come into existence' in 1999 - I suggest you look up Tyrell in the history books.

The whole reason Mercedes are getting shitty with Bernie about the CA is because Red Bull are getting preferential treatment design changing hands twice in the last decade (Steward->Ford/Jaguar->RBR), yet Mercedes are getting the short shrift on a team that essentially went Tyrell->BAR->Honda->Brawn (out of necessity)->Mercedes.

Yes, more changes of hands and less recent success, but the team have more historical success, coupled with Mercedes long term engine supply involvement and the success that has delivered.

165

If this is true it must have been sold to Lewis on the basis of what Mercedes think they can do with the 2014 engines. I see nothing from the last 2 years that suggests they'll be fighting for the championship before that. Image rights are all well and good but I believe that winning races and championships is still the main motivation for Lewis.

166

Winning is not really that important if you have market gurus on your side.. Look at David Beckham.. The man has $$$$ coming out of his ears but is he really a good footballer. NO.

That may be what Hamilton is striving at too.

167

Beckham won six Premier league titles, the Champions League and La Liga. I'd say he was better than average 🙂

168

He still won them.

169

Err, no. Beckham was part of a TEAM that won said titles.

170

It saddens me that Lewis appears to be making this decision based on how to develop his "brand".

Sports personalities become brands if they're serial winners (Jordan, Woods) or if they look good in their undies (Kournikova, Beckham).

I think Lewis should focus on trying to be the former.

171

Hmm..i think my wife would disagree with you, that Lewis doesn't look good in his undies. 🙂

173

"but is he really a good footballer"

Absolute heresy!

A fatwah upon you! Better start using an alias!

174

I this there was supposed to be a question mark preceding the last NO.

175

When Eddie Jordan said Hamilton to Mercedes everyone said well its Eddie talking, but over the years Bernie has used Eddie for his own help in matters, so I feared Hamilton was on his way, it's a shame that the Hamilton/Mclaren relationship is finished, but it looks like Mercedes is slowly putting a team to compete at the very highest level and everyone knows what Ross Brawn is capable off

Looks like di resta wants to be in a Mclaren with button as he switched to buttons management, however after sundays race it looks like Perez is a future star/world champion and if Mclaren could get him this would surely compensate for losing Hamilton and please Vodafone as James has said, would Ferrari release him, that's another question

176

Hulkenburg/Perez looks faster to me ..if McLaren want the Constructors.

177

IMHO Perez will be dressed in red next year so McLaren need to look somewhere else

178

"Seriously though, if anyone replaces Massa at Ferrari, it’s just going to be a waste of talent, no-one is going to expect a driver to come in as Alonso’s team-mate and get a fair hearing at Ferrari"

Yes, I had heard Narain Karthikeyan is their number one choice 😉

179

Perez to Marrussia? Wow.. That's a rumour I didn't see coming...

Seriously though, if anyone replaces Massa at Ferrari, it's just going to be a waste of talent, no-one is going to expect a driver to come in as Alonso's team-mate and get a fair hearing at Ferrari.. At the moment the best person for that Ferrari seat is Massa, as he can get the points and play tactically, but knows that he won't be near Alonso..

180

Good news for Lewis, for McLaren, for Mercedes and for F1.

Lewis can finally move on from his "parents" and come into his own as a man. He can joins the modern greats in helping the building of a team. This will surely help him.

McLaren can get a fresh start and find a lower-maintenance driver. Lewis is fast for sure, but he also seems to take a lot of energy with his various antics.

Mercedes finally gets a proven benchmark. Michael seems to be rediscovering his form this year, would be cool to see him one more year alongside Hamilton. Will probably be Rosberg lurking Massa-esque around tho.

F1 is better for trades like this. Driver lineups is quite stale with the opportunities for newer drivers to prove themselves fewer and fewer.

Alternatives for McLaren: Kimi. Maybe Massa if they dare, there should still be a fast brazilian in there.

181

Let's see how it develops.

IMHO, building team with lead of Schumacher or Alonso is not the same as building team with Hamilton. Two of them have proved already they can handle bad car, drive it fast. One of them, when he has an average car, usualy is involved with Maldonado and wants to retire after few laps.

Despite great talent of both - Brawn and Hamilton and even all others, I guess we are going to see something like PSG in football - money and good players are not enough to win something. This has been proven in F1 also.

182

I say lets put Barrichello in the second seat with Button. Let us not forget 2009....

183

'Massa and' 'fast Brazilian' parted company within the same sentence 3 years ago.

184

+1

On drivers, I think Hulkenberg as a German might be on McLaren's mind to help keep Mercedes engines as an option into the future.

I wouldn't mind seeing less of McLaren being cast as Team UK too. It doesn't really fit in with the New Zealand heritage of the team, for starters.

I like seeing drivers move between teams too. It shows drivers in a different light. Different aerodynamic philosophies suddenly change the way drivers overtake being one of the more subtle ones.

185

Agree all round, Thomas, well put.

186

Well, it seems to me Lewis is more concerned with being rich that he is a racing driver. It's like his priorities are totally backwards. I get the impression that almost all F1 drivers would be willing to race for free if they had the chance to win, yet Lewis is potentially about to leave a top running to team to a lower team; and for what? Nothing but money and 'branding'? It's not like he's poor at the moment. McLaren have paid him tens of millions of pounds during his time there. If he's strapped for cash these days then maybe he should hire an accountant rather than an entertainment company as a manager.

That said, Mercedes does have so much potential and Lewis will only bring them forwards. It would also be nice to see him and Nico as team mates once again (although I think Nico would jump to McLaren if the opportunity came along, rather than stay with a friend... I would!) 2012 brought Mercedes their first win and I'm sure others are on the way once the factory sort out their car development gremlins. With the 2014 engine regs coming in too, it could be a stroke of genius to move there now. But who knows eh?

PS. Paul Di Resta does not deserve a seat at McLaren yet, he is extremely average in my opinion. He seems no better or worse than Kobayashi or Hulkenberg; the latter I would rate as the best of the three.

187

"I get the impression that almost all F1 drivers would be willing to race for free if they had the chance to win." This is pure sugar-stands, daisies and little boys' smiles fantasy. It's just something that poorer pundits like to wax lyrical about. None of them would do it for free - they'd move on to something else to pay for their private jets and houses in Monaco.

188

Wayne? Seriously?? So the drivers that pay MILLIONS for F1 drives are doing it for what reason exactly?

189

What are you talking about? They do not pay with their own money, huge corporate sponsors pay! AND the drivers till get paid!

190

Jenks, which driver do you know that pays to drive from their own money? I always thought it was their corporate sponsors that paid.

191

No - see Jensen Button's Top Gear interview just before his first race win. He explicitly said that he would trade all the money/glamour/luxury for that one win.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOVxj5yd2aA

192

To be fair, Jenson did pay a huge amount of his own money to get out of his Williams contract. But he was hardly driving for free...

193

It's easy to say you would.

If you really felt that way why not go to whatever team you think will give you the best chance, and offer them a contract where you give back a percentage of your earnings for each win you get?

194

Everyone is different. Money means different things to different people. Maybe I'm being naive, but I believe that many of the drivers in F1 or other categories would trade the lifestyle for the trophies and success.

195

have you seen how much alonso is paid?what about kimi?he was even being paid by ferrari when he wasnt even racing for them anymore.they all want the big money.

196

Also McLaren drivers have to work within strict guidelines with team sponsors.

>> Didn't the Hamilton(s) violated that guideline in Hamilton's second season when the father-son duo signed personal endorsement deal with Adidas? Adidas or their associated brands never featured on McLaren car. But McLaren that was known for its strict guidelines when it comes to managing drivers bent over to accommodate Lewis, and that pretty much set the tone of what was to come for the McLaren-Hamilton relationship.

Anyhow, for the driver who was built in mould of JPM, the acrimonious split reminds me of the split between the British team and its Latin driver in 2006.

At least this one was lucky to be part of the "Dennis Project" which resulted in the 2007-08 wins and title, and which has indirectly helped in securing on to the straw called Mercedes F1. I wish his Latin predecessor had similar team support back in 01-06 to show a title for someone of his immense talent.

197

McLaren for sure is one of the great F1 teams of the paddock. But to me it has always given me the impression that being at McLaren as a driver means rmembering the rules to you to abide by back at school. I'm not going to go into writing about them all, but for me Hamilton's move away from McLaren is by far the best move of his career so far. He should also be grateful to McLaren for how he's become the driver he is. Forgetting that would be disrespectful... But Lewis now needs to become his own man and now show what he's really capable off!

198

" If Hamilton did not want this, why would he had signed up with XIX?"

I'm not sure Lewis knows what he really wants. I suspect he's a bit gullbile and has fallen for Fuller's Jerry Maguire spiel. He split with his father for XIX, and now he's splitting with his surrogate dad, Ron Dennis. He had been doing better till he got involved with XIX in my eyes.

His lifestyle and ambitions for celebrity status appear to be at odds with his success on the track, I'm not all all convinced this move will result in any more WDCs for Lewis. I reckon he's a far better chance of winning 2012's in this year's McLaren than 2013's in next year's Merc.

199

He signed with XIX what? In the middle of last season? Within a few races his results were getting better and he was getting into less incidents. This year he has been right on it.

I'm not saying it's all down to, or even at all related to XIX. But so far we have no real evidence that signing with XIX has been a bad move, either.

200

If true Wow!

We can all see the true talent of Rosberg and see how he rates against Hamilton.

My opinion is Rosberg is overrated.

201
Warren Groenewald

And what if it turns out like the Button / Hamilton pairing?

202

you mean 2-1 after 3 years? In who's favour?

203

+1 on Rosberg lol.

Ain't like his daddy could teach him a few good tricks on how to be fast... 😀

204

I think Keke actually has a reputation of having being very fast.

205

Unlike Lewis' ex-WDC dad....

206

This is very unfortunate for McLaren because they are left without one of the fastest drivers.

Ferrari has Alonso

Red Bull has Vettel

Mercedes has Hamilton

Lotus has Raikkonen

McLaren has Button, but he is not Alonso or Vettel, let's be honest. Buton is not the future of the team, but I might be wrong.

The only real option for McLaren is to snatch Vettel, but he is happy in Red Bull now and is dreaming about Ferrari without Alonso...or to get Kimi, but Kimi will never do it, he loves freedom and this is why he is with Lotus.

So....really, there are no valid options for McLaren in terms of Top drivers.

207

Agree with you.

McLaren is just gonna go downhill from now on with Lewis. Button won't be able to drive fast and dev the car coz the car just won't be right for him. Buckle up and prepare yourselves to see a repeat of 2007-08 but this time in the form of McLaren rather than Honda!

208

LoL, Mclaren downhill? Based on what exactly? Hamilton, was working aside as chief aerodynamicist also?

209

I hope your prepared to eat those words.

210

If Hamilton moves, I hope McLaren signs Kimi.

BG

211

But it would be nice to see Heikki there again

212

Kimi is already in contract with Lotus for 2013 🙂

213
DanWilliams from Aust

In the same statment that Lotus made this week that confirms RAI will be at the team for 2013, they also said that this is F1 and a team and driver should not be forced to be together if one of them does not want to be together...

They also mentioned the contract for 2013 was based on performance, and Kimi had met them all now so I'm assuming that it why he is automatically lockied in for 2013.

I assume that means that there is something in Kimi's contact with Lotus that would give either party an 'out' if either of them wanted it.

215

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Formula_One_season see the list of signed drivers. Unless, of course, that is incorrect too :/

216

...and builds him an over-steery car that Button can't control 😉

217

For some reason I think this is also good news for Alonso this year. McLaren will not be eager to help Hamilton take the #1 to Mercedes.

218

No, I don't think they will either. Whitmarsh probably would continue as was but I get the impression that Dennis can be vindictive and every bit as petulant as Hamilton.

Plus, wouldn't be really awkward come the end of the season to witness the strained celebrations and crocodile smiles.

219

I would suggest this move is more about money than ambition. Realistically only 3 teams are capable of providing a car to win a title, McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari.

Hamiltons demeanor would suggest he wishes he could stay at McLaren, but with XIX involved it would more be about the money than the ambition to win the title, who is actually in charge here, Lewis or his management?

Believe this is a backward step for Lewis and his chance to win title number 2 is now further away.

220

I think the beginning of the end of the Hamilton/Mclaren affair came in 2009 when the team didn't give him a car to defend his title with (Lewis can be quoted saying pretty much the same that year). This wound had vast amounts of salt rubbed into it in 2011 when RBR provided Vettel with the machinery he needed to successfully defend his 2010 WDC. Couple these obvious disappointments with the arrival of Button and the team's focus on getting him integrated into the Mclaren set-up together with Lewis's many problems last season and the writing was almost on the wall. Then, along came 2012 and despite Lewis's apparently new found maturity both on and off the track, the team let him down time after time and may well have cost him 40+ points in the WDC. Result (if these rumours turn out to be true) = divorce. Hamilton just wants to win WDCs, I think that he would consider his career to be a failure if he finished it with only 1 to his name. Money will always play a part in the decisions these F1 drivers make purely because lots of it is on offer but I doubt they would be F1 drivers if winning wasn't their main priority.

Lewis leaving Mclaren was always going to happen one day. Personally, I think that if he does go to Mercedes next season it will do him the world of good. Besides the obvious on track, performance related interest in that move, it will also be very interesting to see how Button copes with a new driver on the other side of the Mclaren garage because they seem to have history in losing focus on the established driver when that happens.

Interesting times indeed.

221

I have to agree with Wayne. I am also very excited about Hamiltons potential move to Merc. I have been telling my wife he should do this since the end of last season. McLaren just do not have the winners killer instinct under Martin Whitmarsh. Hamilton has given them 5 years of his talent and as far as I am concerned at least 2 years were wasted by poor car developement stratergy i.e. designing a new car from scratch instead of morphing the cars that always seemed to come good at the end of the season. Whitmarsh morphs the car design for 2012 and suddenly they have a decent car again but then have operational issues. Hamilton has always had strong ties with MERC and Norbert Haug, who think the world of him. I say go to Merc and help build a dominant team in 2-3 years time MERC will be a force to be reconned with.

222

Have to disagree, Mark, no-one owuld have said RBR or Brawn would have been capable beofre they went out and did it. There is no reason why mercedes are not about to do the same thing.

I'm a Hamilton fan and I'm quite excited about the prospect.

223

I concur Wayne. I have had a sense that Lewis was out of place every since Whitmarsh has become team principal. This became clearer in 2010 when Button joined the team.

His (Whitmarsh) partiality towards Button has gone to the point of posting on blogs about the car problems he is having this year being the reason he is so far behind Lewis. Never seen that from a team principal before. He has never done it for Lewis.

224

Don't get me wrong I would love to see Hamilton get another title but my feeling is this moved would hinder that.

I would agree as far as RBR, but looking at Brawn that was a one off season, RBR are showing a consistent challenge for the title. Brawn blew the competition away in the first half of that season with their car design though as the season wore on teams (inevitably) caught up. Since then they havent really shown any consistancy in challenging for titles, though Rosberg/Schumi have had some good races, I dont see the consistancy needed to get a world title.

I concede that 2014 rule changes may render my views obsolete as who knows what may happen but based on team performances over the past couple seasons I would question the wisdom of this move.

225

+1 Mclaren have mostly had a resoanbly good car, but not often the best. No team WDC proves this, and the only recent drivers championship is - LH.

226

As a Mclaren fan, I'll be glad if he's out.

Too much work to keep him happy, too moody, surely takes it toll on the team.

227

This just does not make sense - as a McLaren fan do you not want to see them win? You'd rather they had a quiet, slower driver?

Just don't take up supporting football - it would never work out for you.

228

Well said! + a few.

I have never understood this pro-Mclaren/anti-Hamilton stance. One seems somewhat out of kilter with the other.

Surely, if you were actually a McLaren fan you'd be begging McLaren to bite their tongue, clench their fists, and generally do anything they could to manage the Hamilton petulance and keep him within the team. You know that the team loses their rag with him from time to time, but as a fan, you want them to suck it up and do whatever is necessary to stay in winning ways, ie. keep him!

He's a proven race winner. He gets the business done. If you can't see that then you've really missed something.

229

@tharris19 2012 is not nearly over. 2011 Button smashed Hamilton.

230

your response fails to take into consideration the other variables involved in winning races, for example the car, pretty important factor

231

Compare him to his team mate in the same car and what do you get.

232

kimi just need his light yet sensitive steering to return to his top form in qualifying~~!! mclaren had spent 5 years developing the suspension setting just for kimi...it will be great to see kimi back to mclaren and finish the unfinish business back then due to engine and car reliability~~~

mclaren + kimi = ultra speed combination !!

233

It was truly enjoyable to watch Raikkonen during his Mclaren days, with his raw visceral pace back in the day. He seems to have lost a bit of that edge though... Especially after he left Mclaren.

Still a very competent racer that I like though, great to see him back in F1.

234

Competent racer? lol

Yeah he is 3rd in the WDC, just one point behind Lewis with a Lotus, without having won a race yet. I'd say that is really, really, really, really competent.

235

@Megan Since you think that isn't good enough, why don't you take over his job then?

I'm sure a nobody on the Internet would be able to do a lot better than the proven world champion himself

236

I keep telling J A. Put him in a Mclaren & we will see who qualifies faster &, we will also see who leads the championship.. I hope he gets a run in a top team or Lotus improves-no one is more deserving of another Championship

237

I think he has matured a lot since his return to F1. Seeing him at Lotus really reminds me why I liked him so much back in the McLaren days. IMO he never really seemed at home in Ferrari overalls.

238

Remind me again how many years Kimi was at Mclaren and how many titles he won?

239

Hal I will remind you he won with Ferrari

240

Im many opinions 2003 & 2005 was has Kimis but for Engine failures etc .So really he is the equivalent of a triple WC

241

Can't you read his post? Unfinished business in Mclaren DUE TO ENGINE AND CAR RELIABILITY. If not for horrible reliability, he would've easily won both '03 and '05 titles.

242

So zero then. Thanks.

Seriously, i know the reasons and my reply was aimed at everyone quick to hail Kimi as the answer. To win a WDC takes a number of things to go right. So while he is one of my favourites - I don't see this as the answer. LH is as capable if not more than KR.

Remember even Kimi is prone to inter-team dynamics - I just do not see how he came to lose to Massa after wining WDC in 2008 (the only I can think of was the news that Alonso was coming unsettled him).

243

Kimi suffered because of Ferrari's politics, there where many things going on there and yet he has never said a bad word about Ferrari or complained about it. He is much more of a team player then people sometimes give him credit for. They where just not a good match, much like Alonso and Mclaren.

In any case Kimi knows Mclaren and they know him, there are a lot of people in Mclaren who really likes Kimi, Withmarsh included.

244

Very interesting read about whole Kimi/Fernando/Ferrari situation.

http://f1bias.com/2012/04/05/truth-about-kimi-ferrari-santander-2008/

245

Remind yourself how many races in that period his cars destroyed themselves through a Grand Prix weekend!

246

I believe that's exactly what mayberth refers to as "unfinished business". Both McLaren and Mercedes have used such language when referring to Kimi and the unreliability of the Merc engine during those years, which meant Kimi lost at least the 2005 title to Alonso.

247

2005 was real bad ... basically spotted Alonso near half-a-season!

248

and 2003...he was 2 points off schumi despite driving a 2002 version 's car!!

249

you should watch back 2002- 2006~~~ why kimi failed to win a title with mclaren??? If you dont know, it means that you're an amateur!!

250

Shah alam - the reason why Kimi is a great driver is because he is a great thinker ! Just ask Martin Whitmarsh and Stephano Dominacali.

251

In 2003 it was so close, I still blame Rubens Barichello/Ferrari for ruining kimi's WDC win as he was taken out in one race by him. if you look at RB at Ferrari all he did is hold the pack up with pace.

All Kimi needed was 3 points from that DNF race and hay presto Kimi would have been a two time champion just as Alonso is.

Like Sterling Moss kimi waited so long to win he became philosophical about wining the WDC.

THOSE WHO SUPPORT KIMI LIKE HIM BECAUSE HE MAY NOT BE A THINKER IN THE COCKPIT OR A POLITICAL PLAYER BUT IN THE SAME CAR AGAINST ANY OTHER DRIVER HE IS THE FASTEST.

I REMEMBER EVEN ALONSO SAYING THAT ABOUT HIM.

252

@hal, I think you will find that kimi not winning titles was because mclaren would always have engine\hydraulic failures, mainly to do with how tight the car was packaged.

Newey was the designer for them during those years 🙂

253

I know. I was stirring a bit. What I don't get is the common belief amongst some posters that Kimi is the silver bullet. During his time he had arguably the best designer in season, in season testing etc yet Kimi did not win.

Losing LH is a blow and I agree Kimi is a good choice but if I was Kimi I would stay at lotus. He seems happy there and the team look to have a good pair of drivers - the fast by inexperienced (relatively) RG with a KE as team lead. If he goes to McLaren he will have to wrestle the team from Button. Something I don't see Kimi is interested in doing.

254

Ask Norbert Haug why Kimi never won with McLaren...

255

All those V10s and V8s that ended in a blazing mess

256

If this does pan out as you think it might then this is good news for McLaren, as you say a large part of the last 5 years have been something of a pantomime, he's a very high maintenance driver, of course he can also be a very high rewards one as well, but it seems to me there have been far to many distractions, far to big an entourage of late, and a lack of the level of self discipline required to be the very best.

I believe that petulance is Lewis Hamiltons default state when things dont go his way, perhaps we'll see how long Mercedes allow the panto to run before they also bring the curtain down, I doubt there'll be calls for an encore.

257

"Mercedes had to do this, as one of only two 'works' teams in F1..."

Aren't Red Bull effectively Renault's 'works' team, or would that be overstating the case?

258

Yes, they aren't owned by a manufacturer, but they get free engines

259

Renault must've loved it when Newey inquired about getting Mercedes engines for RBR, eh?

260

Whoa?! Red Bull gets free engines?

How about Lotus (old Renault team)? Do they get it free or now they gotta pay? That'd surely feel awkward for the guys there.

262

I have thought all year long that Lewis hasn't been happy in McLaren and wants out. I thought though that mark webber would join Ferrari and that Lewis would join red bull. I never could of imagined him joining Mercedes. When webber signed for a year I expected Lewis to do a shorter term deal and keep himself free for a 2014 move with webber possibly retiring and talk of seb moving to the reds. But I think it's a done deal to Mercedes. Sad to see Michael looks like losing out as its clear from spa and monza he still has more than enough to be a f1 driver. And I think hulkenburg has jumped ahead of di resta in the que for a Ferrari or Mercedes drive.

263

If Hamilton wants to think of a bigger picture of just being a top racing driver, then a move to Merc for the reasons said by James has said is must.

But, is Hamilton losing sight of what he is? a Racing Driver?

He seems to be moving to a celeb/singer/super star which is not really what he is or about.

264
Mike from Colombia

I have to say that I think that Jenson Button has not behaved particularly honourably during this episode.

Button is still only an employee, but is acting like management. He should not have chimed in during the twitter saga. I feel that his two pence worth against Lewis Hamilton changed the team dynamics. Yes, people will go on about 2011 and Button outscoring Hamilton during his off year - but the case seems that Button has gone down the tried the tested route of getting ahead internally...suck up to the boss.

There seems to be an air of opportunism and stealth in terms of exploiting the situation to get on board a driver that is in your management company's books. It also seems that there is little point in getting a No. 2 driver for the world's best No. 2 driver.

Whitmarsh seems to have lost his air of authority and it is now impossible to make the Hamilton-McLaren relationship work as a result. The same happened between Dennis and Alonso.

McLaren seem to need a breath of fresh air and change of approach - but more on the management side.

265

Yeah, dunno what Button is trying to accomplish there. I mean, if you are going to come out and say stuff, in total 'Kill the King' fashion, then you better make sure you can finish it off.

I was amazed that Button came out with the "McLaren will be wasting their time asking me to back up Lewis" after Monza. Whoa dude, you drive for the team. If it makes sense for you to move over for Lewis, then tough. If the team can snag the same amount of points, plus get Lewis s'more for the DWC table, then of course you do that!

If Lewis doesn't go, and re-signs with McLaren, then I could see Button being off-loaded at yearend.

266

Yeah if anyone doubted what Jenson has been upto behind the scenes his comments of "being upset" was just as childish as what Lewis did!

it happened all through 2011 also- in some post races he was even heard foul mouthing Lewis- got no more time for the guy. But he is so far up MW arse he's going nowhere.. Good luck to Lewis wherever he goes is better than where he currently is.

267

Very well said. It smells not good if a driver of a certain team criticises his team mate publicly, when even the real team mangement has put it to rest.

Neither is it good a driver pushes for a new tean mmate who himelf has some profit from, as he is involved in the management.

Button is a potical intrigant

268

Are you serious Mike?

remind me who tweeted sensitve telementry data which contained his team mates race settings...

269

So what you're saying is: Button went to "Lewis' team" - where most of us expected him to be decimated by Hamilton; he matched Lewis on points; and he then manoeuvred Hamilton out so that he can be number one?

F1 has always been political and if Jenson has achieved the above he's better than Prost!

270
Mike from Colombia

The fact is that McLaren will still feel that Button is not an adequate No. 1 for them going forward. If he was so, then they would not be in a panic right now.

271

Intra-team struggling and politicking between team-mates is as old as F1. Drivers that always top the lists of best F1 drivers (such as Schumacher and Senna) were past masters at this.

I also can't see how you could construe any action by Jenson this year as being "dishonourable", unless you consider that you may be potentially somewhat biased. (Evinced by the quote "It also seems that there is little point in getting a No. 2 driver for the world’s best No. 2 driver.")

272
Mike from Colombia

Button is a good driver..but he is not great driver. That might be part of the reason why he never seems that bothered by being outqualified or outraced by his team mate.

He is the world's best No. 2 driver...that's why Ferrari wanted him for Alonso

273

Did he take the title of "world's best number 2" by beating Rubens Barrichello?

274

Being a number #1 or #2 is irrelevant to the initial point that he was being disingenuous or disloyal. At no point this season have I seen Jenson talking 'trash', his comment last week about the tweeted lap trace were I think restrained, and apart from that I can't really think of any examples this year that would prove your point.

Regardless, I think this site has been great in keeping out rampant [mod], so perhaps we can all let it remain that way?

275

I agree with Mike actually.

The difference between Button and MSC/Senna are, the latter two do the talking on track. Button? He speaks them out, mostly trash talk as well. That's especially the case this season.

276

As a LH fan, I really hope he knows something we don't, because no matter what you say about McLaren, they are always there or thereabouts, and are a committed F1 team.

Mercedes are, what, 5th fastest? And their future in the sport seems uncertain. If Lewis leaves McLaren now, and in two years they decide not to continue, where next?

Also, if Lewis is looking 'to win', isn't he going to look a bit silly if he leaves after winning the WDC to join a team who are off the pace?

277

I think that (winning the WC this year) would be the perfect outcome for Lewis. A double world champion then moves on to help a currently weaker team flourish. (That sounds familiar...!) and it would somewhat lessen the gamble.

278

It took Schumi 5 more seasons to win again. Don't think Lewis would want the same.

281

Michael Schumacher

282

Damon was forced out.

Schumi did a great job of turning ferrari into winners when everyone said he was nuts leaving benetton to go to ferrari.

I'd like to see if hamilton can do the same with merc, but I doubt it.

283

Nice one. Forgotten about him actually.

Let's hope this isn't the way for LH to end lol, LH too good to end up like how Dhill did.

284

Really hope Schumacher stays. He has been getting up to speed each year. It looks as though now that he's on his way. Gutted.

285

Me too 🙁

If this is all true, I can't see how Schumacher will fit in at all to the current line up but I just don't understand - I'm sure everyone in Mercedes has a lot of respect for Schumacher, so why would they be letting all these things get out without allowing Schumacher to declare his own position first?

I really don't want him to retire yet, I think he can smell a win and it's so close. He is performing in general better than Rosberg now. It seems really unceremonious if they are booting him out right now with all these rumours and then the pressure after that.

286

I haven't being able to work out the dynamics in the Mercedes team. As in is the final decision with RB, Norbert Haug or some suit in charge of Mercedes in Germany. When Michael retired from Ferrari you could tell that the request/order came from Di Montezemelo and he wanted newer blood in sooner rather than later to take over from Michael. As little respect as I have for Hamilton, I genuinely think that he is a good driver however I think that mgt company that he has working for him was such a bad move. His Dad kept him a lot more grounded. With these guys its all about brand Hamilton. Not enough about the team. I don't think that in the long term this is a good move for Mercedes either. How long before he starts acting like a kid if he doesn't get what he wants at Mercedes? I really hope this isn't true. If it is Michael is going to retire. Talk of moves to another team at this stage at his age is ridiculous. I would say that Michael wants one more shot at it and then he will retire....

287

My thoughts exactly. Really couldn't give a crap about Hamilton - he seems more interested in celebrity than actually racing and whatever his beef with McLaren mgt that was such a low thing to do to your engineers to release the telemetry on the cars - show him the door Martin!! More importantly I feel sad for Michael, he came back to win and he has being doing a great job lately if they could just get that car up to form they might possibly mount a decent challenge next season. It would kill me to see Hamilton benefit from these improvements. Really hope this isn't true.....I remain in denial until I get confirmation!!!

288

James I have to agree with nearly everything you say but this is my take on who goes where.

I think Hamilton is especially nark at he isnt seen now as the 'team leader' at Mclaren, they dont seem to have a no1 and no2 driver, all seems far to equal for his liking.

Clearly at Red Bull Vettel is seen as no1, Ferrari its Alonso, Lotus its Kimi, thats why Hamitlon could not and would not move to any of those teams and now at Mclaren it seems to him he is not wanted. Mclaren will NOT attract a so called big name, it will be an up and coming rookie driver or you may find it even to be Massa who ends up there. As for Mercedes, the ideal choice would be Hamilton and Rosberg, grew up karting together, friends, young and both quick

Mercedes is an ideal choice for him, one of the best and most respected team principles around, massive brand and in 2014 I think they will be leading in the new engine production.

As an avid viewer and huge Hamilton fan, himself just like me I suspect has fallen out of affection for Whitmarsh, stratergy, decision making and communication he seems to get wrong most of the time and if Hamilton can forge a relationship with Ross Brawn who I think both have massive mutual respect for each other, I think Mercedes, with brawns knowledge and stratergy and Hamiltons pace, they will become a terrific team

289

I find what you said about 2014 and the prospect of Merc building a class leading engine which may tempt Lewis over there very interesting and relevant.

But what I dont get is when Merc came into F1 with the mind set of becoming a top team WHY ARE THEY STILL PROVIDING MCLAREN WITH ENGINES.

'Force India' and another beck mark team is fine but why don't they now play it political and drop Mclaren.

290

Existing contracts...

291

Does the contract between Merc and Mac extend beyond 2014 is the question?

293

I wouldn't assume Hamilton will be given No. 1 driver status at Mercedes. Rosberg is no slouch, and has been beating Michael on a fairly regular basis. Rosberg also has the advantage of having been at Mercedes for 2 years.

294

Except you don't bring in someone like Lewis for £25m a year to play number 2. There are better alternatives.

You bring him on for the reasons James mentions in his article.

295

Somehow I don't think Ross Brawn will have anywhere near the patience that Whitmarsh has shown with Lewis. Brawn always struck me as a no nonsense type who will kick Lewis' butt if he behaves again like he did at Spa.

296

"Brawn always struck me as a no nonsense type who will kick Lewis’ butt if he behaves again like he did at Spa."

Which is exactly why this relationship might work.

297

Ding, ding, ding. I agree with every word you just typed. I think Lewis is exasperated with Whitmarsh, as am I, and I think he is looking forward to 2014 when Mercedes should have a jump on the other teams as an engine manufacturer. This gives them 2013 to become a team, so that they just have to wrap their heads around the new machinery when it is introduced - not do both at the same time. Granted, this is all still speculation, and neither will surprise me if he decides to stay or move on, but they both make sense to me.

298

McLaren have a contract with Mercedes to be their engine supplier until 2015, taking in the initial V6 turbo season.

300

James,

Michael Schumacher seems to have really got his groove back and is outperforming Nico Rosberg at this point. Are you positive he is going to retire again at the end of this year? You seem so sure about it.

301

I think these developments (if true) are more likely to make Schumacher stay on. I'm not sure someone of his self belief will shy away from a battle with one of the sport's big 3. And Mercedes, of Germany, cannot be seen to sack Michael Schumacher, German hero, against his will: If he wants to stay he can.

Perez has put himself in the perfect position with that Monza drive. He can now say to Ferrari take me next year or I'm off to McLaren. The latter might be a better drive as it isn't team Alonso...

302

And if this move is largely about Marketing (which it seems to be from Hamilton’s side) then surely Merc can spot a huge opportunity – England vs Germany, Old vs Young, Most Exciting driver of the Nineties versus the sensation of the Naughties.

I just hope Schumi isn’t forced to retire from this one as he was in 2006 when he feared Raikkonen in the same team, when the realities are that he would have won at least the 2007 if not the 2008 title.

Rosberg also sounded a lot happier in late 09 when he thought his team-mate would be Button rather than Schumi – I can see him trying to do a bit of maneuvering now to avoid Hamilton being his stable mate.

303

I see this as well, since Rosberg had his win and podium, he hasn't scored a whole lot of points. When the Merc was really good, they only could field one good car at a time and the other one broke down.

In fact, if you look at the season, the later part is quite bad from Rosberg.

Schumacher had 2 points after 7 races. Rosberg 67

Since the last 6 races: Schumacher 41, Rosberg 16.

Also in Q, Schumacher is much closer and often faster. That wasn't the case last year. So why would he quit? He is beating the young gun lately.

304

I hope he's not going. I think Button and Schumacher wouldn't be a bad team?

305

Norbert Haug once said Mclaren tried hiring Schumacher almost every year from 1995 to 2005, so in a way it would be poetic justice if he moves to Mclaren. But i just don't see that happening though. If he retires this year, i'm sure to see him around Mercedes pits once in a while..and in a few years time maybe him and Ross Brawn will do what they had said they'll do post-Ferrari, go fishing together at Rory Byrne's resort in Thailand !

306

Totally agree. Schumi's got his pace back now and would be a shame to lose him at this point. He's the only reason I still watch F1. If he's forced out (again!) I don't think I'd keep watching the series. But if merc drops him, surely he has other options? Mclaren, lotus, or even ferrari.

Not to mention I would never buy a mercedes again for the effrontery. BMWs are much nicer to drive anyway. You don't feel like you're involved with a merc at all, too many computers

307

I fancy the idea of Schumacher to Ferrari for a year to partner Alonso. Hamilton to Mercedes alongside Rosberg. McLaren will have Button, but his teammate is a mystery to me. But if Perez could line-up there or DiResta (Perez looks the more impressive at the moment) Massa may likely fill the void at either Sauber or Force India. In the back of mind though, I think Hulkenburg could be a surprise and great invest for McLaren. That could be a very nice line-up!

308

I really don't get why people go on about Di Resta. Aside from the fact the man is duller than dishwater, I've rarely seen any real spark in him. Yes, he qualified well on the weekend gone, but not that much else that inspires me.

Lewis is moving on to a team of real potential come 2014, all things considered, and freedom from Whitmarsh/McLaren. Mclaren on the other hand, if they do take on Di Resta, will be substituting a delightful lemon sorbet with a stodgy jam sandwich.

309

And more importantly, will Rosberg want to drive in the same team as Hamilton? It was widely reported that he was offered the McLaren drive at the end of ’07 that eventually went to Kovalainen but that his father advised him not to drive in the same team as Lewis, who I understand gave him a thorough spanking when they were karting team-mates.

I think it’s more than possible Schumi could return to Ferrari too, this year his form has been superb, Barcelona aside. If Bernie is really the man pulling the strings then what bigger box office draw could there be than Schumi back in a Ferrari alongside his natural heir Alonso? Anyone who would not love to see Schumi round off his career with a win in a prancing horse doesn’t have a romantic bone in their body!

So is it that unfeasible that the following could happen?

Hamilton to Mercedes

Rosberg to McLaren

Schumacher to Ferrari

As for Hamilton’s team-mate, I’d fancy The Hulk – future world championship material and he doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who would be scared of going toe to toe with one of the best.

310

Yes it could easily be career suicide for a driver like Rosberg, regarded by many as a second-string driver, to go up against Hamilton in the same team. On the other hand perhaps in 3 years' time he'll be pushing Hamilton out of the door!

311

Massa did say if he's pushed out of Ferrari, he'd leave F1 altogether.

312

Like the idea of a bit of a shake up. I completely agree that Hamilton looks like he's on the move. Surely the only possibilities for McLaren are Kimi, Sergio Perez or Rosberg?

313

Rosberg and Kimi are locked in contracts elsewhere, and it's looking like Perez could be moving to Ferrari. I think their best bet would be Heikki.

314

I can't see McLaren going for Heikki, he was too far off Lewis' pace.

315

Agreed, he had his chance and was found wanting. I'd rather they gave it to The Hulk - his pole lap in Brazil 2010 was one of those moments you sit back and think 'The boy's a bit special'. Something that I have never thought when watching Di Resta or Kovalainen.

316

If what you say about Kimi and Perez is true, what about Kamui as a wild card? Or even, dare I say it - Maldonado. Jenson is the safe pair of hands - they need someone with that special touch of craziness and flair. Heikki is just like Button but not quite as good... A one year contract for Schumacher?

317

You guys lack experience if you believe in what you read about contracts. Most contracts have an out clause. And any contract can be renegotiated and be superseded. Eventually everything has a price and money (or threats) can be persuasive. Just look at football