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Hamilton turns back on McLaren and signs for Mercedes
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Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Sep 2012   |  9:52 am GMT  |  946 comments

[Updated] Lewis Hamilton has cut his 14-year umbilical cord to McLaren and announced he will join Mercedes at the end of the season on a three-year deal.

In a huge coup for Mercedes and major shot in the arm for its ambitions of winning consistently in Formula 1 that was predicted by JA on F1 earlier this month, the 2008 world champion will replace Michael Schumacher in the team’s 2013 line-up, reuniting him with his old karting team-mate Nico Rosberg. Sauber’s Sergio Perez will replace Hamilton at McLaren.

Intriguingly, however, there was no mention in the Mercedes press release of what Schumacher will do now, despite an expectation that Hamilton’s arrival would prompt the 43-year-old into permanent retirement.

What there was confirmation of however – and which clearly paved the way for the Hamilton deal – is that Mercedes have committed to F1 and signed the new eight-year Concorde Agreement. Niki Lauda, who is said to have played a key role in convincing Hamilton of the Mercedes ‘project’, has also joined the team’s board of directors as non-executive chairman.

An hour or so earlier McLaren, having to face up to life without the driver they have nurtured since the age of 13 and took all the way to world champion, were the first to confirm news of Hamilton’s departure and duly announced that in his place will come Mexican youngster Perez to partner Jenson Button next season, the team crediting the 22-year-old’s “string of giantkilling performances” for the decision to sign him on a “multi-year deal” from Sauber.

But while Martin Whitmarsh expressed confidence in McLaren’s statement that Perez is “perfectly poised to develop into a world championship challenger”, the stark reality hitting home for the team and its shareholders this morning is that they have just lost a driver who’s a proven champion and 20 time race winner.

“It’s entirely appropriate that I should take this opportunity to pass on our thanks to Lewis Hamilton. He wrote a huge chapter of his life and career with us, and was, and always will be, a fine member of an exclusive club: the McLaren world champions’ club,” Whitmarsh said in McLaren’s statment.

“It goes without saying that we all wish him well for the future, just as it also goes without saying that we hope and believe that Sergio, too, will become a member of that exclusive club before too long.”

It is Mercedes therefore who will certainly feel they have got the better end of the deal, having signed one of the top three stars on the grid and biggest names in world sport. Speaking in the press release issued by this new team, Hamilton admitted it was time for a new challenge and that, cruically, he believes he can win more world championships with his new employer.

“It is now time for me to take on a fresh challenge and I am very excited to begin a new chapter racing for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Mercedes-Benz has such an incredible heritage in motorsport, along with a passion for winning which I share,” Hamilton said.

“Together, we can grow and rise to this new challenge. I believe that I can help steer the Silver Arrows to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning the world championships.”

Team chief Ross Brawn, who has overseen a major restructing at Mercedes to get them in position to win races on a consistent basis over the coming years, is likely to see the arrival of a world champion in his prime as the final piece in a similar jigsaw to which he was first part of at Ferrari with a then much younger Schumacher in the late 1990s.

“The arrival of a driver of Lewis’ calibre is a testament to the standing of Mercedes-Benz in Formula One and I am proud that Lewis shares our vision and ambition for the success of the Silver Arrows,” Brawn said. “I believe that the combination of Lewis and Nico will be the most dynamic and exciting pairing on the grid next year, and I am looking forward to what we can achieve together.

“Over the past three years, we have been putting in place the foundations and building blocks that are needed to compete regularly for the world championship. Behind the scenes, we have assembled a team that is technically stronger, more experienced and better resourced. The potential is now there to match any other team on the grid, which is the minimum standard for a Mercedes-Benz works team. Our task is now to translate that potential into on-track performance for next season and beyond.”

As reported by this website, Hamilton’s decision to end his association with McLaren and jump ship to Mercedes had already appeared made at Monza given the demeanour of both him and the team in their post-race victory celebrations, despite Martin Whitmarsh’s claim that suggestions that a deal between the two parties was already signed as “fantasy”.

Although media reports suggested in the week that McLaren had upped their basic offer to Hamilton to try and get him to stay, the 27-year-old is set to earn more than what was offer at Woking with his earning potential increased by Mercedes giving him more freedom to strike his own personal sponsorship deals and maximise his image rights, a major factor behind his decision to hire XIX Entertainment as his management last year in the first place.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, however, Whitmarsh has said that McLaren’s offer to Hamilton would have made him the highest paid driver in F1.

“We have made a financial offer which is better than anyone in Formula 1, other than himself, receives today, and that is something that I am comfortable with,” he said. “I know we made a very, very big financial offer, bigger than I believe any Formula 1 driver is enjoying today.”

Nonetheless it is believed that with a deal to bring Hamilton to Mercedes was already in place by the end of the Italian GP, Brawn and the Mercedes F1 hierarchy were waiting for the sign-off on their F1 future from the main Mercedes board in Stuttgart before going ahead, which duly arrived on Wednesday.

Indeed 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, confident they will be in a position to take advantage when the new engine regulations come into place in 2014, know they now have to start delivering over the next few seasons.

That will now be without Germany’s star sportsman Schumacher, his departure a relative footnote in Hamilton’s arrival in contrast to the fanfare that greeted his shock decision to come out of retirement in the winter of 2009 to spearhead what he and the team had expected to be a push for the title by now.

“I have had three nice years with the team which unfortunately did not go as well as we all would have wanted on the sporting side,” Schumacher said today. “I wish Lewis well and for the team to achieve the success we worked so hard for in the build-up. I would like to thank the team for their trust and all the guys for their unconditional commitment. I will now concentrate on the next races.“

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1

It’s really a nice and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you just shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

2

the true value of hamilton is the number of responses posted on any article with the name hamilton in it. may be mercedes noticed that. i wonder if hamilton influence the development of the car much.

3

“the true value of Hamilton is the number of responses posted on any article with the name Hamilton in it”.

Well said, period.

We have almost 1,000 comments on this article, and skyf1 had all the front page news talking about Hamilton in some time.

He is the fastest F1 driver after Senna, and the best F1 driver since then. So he suffer the hate of Alonso’s supporters…

First time on a F1 car back in 2007, a two times WC as a team mate, and Hamilton was almost Champion on that year (finished ahead of Alonso, and with many poles).

He is the name of F1 today. Alonso was on F1 before him, and find an article even close to this one about Alonso…

This year the DNF’s that are not driver’s fault are “killing” the championship…

4

only if all the mclaren employees were half as good at theirs jobs as hamilton is, his. but i think dnfs raise strong emotions to the sport too. i can’t wait to witness qualifying.

5

““We have made a financial offer which is better than anyone in Formula 1, other than himself, receives today, and that is something that I am comfortable with,” he said. “I know we made a very, very big financial offer, bigger than I believe any Formula 1 driver is enjoying today.””

Ball locks! MW must have zero idea what Alonso is earning!

6

From some of the posts above, I can only deduce that Mclaren got rid of Hamilton because button provides similar results as Hamilton at a lower price.

7

I think that Lewis has gone and done almost EXACTLY what one Mr. Valentino Rossi did when he defected to Ducati. Consider the evidence:

1) His team asks him to take a pay cut, which rubs him WRONG.

2) He goes to an ostensibly more glamorous and “sexy marketing opportunity” team.

3) He gets paid the moon on a platter.

4) He thinks that the car/bike just needs a bit of adjustment…and HIM piloting it.

5) He wants a less competitive teammate that he feels guaranteed to always beat.

6) He goes to a team that won ONE rather convincing World Championship in the first year of a major change in the specs of the car/bike…but then got caught and surpassed the next year, and every year ever since.

It’s downright SPOOKY how similar their two situations are right now. The major difference will be, I think, that Mercedes won’t flagrantly ignore Hamilton’s input on changes to the car, and that the team will have MUCH MORE funding and manufacturing resources than Ducati did/had.

And Hamilton’s not gonna win another WDC until he goes back to a competitive team in three years time, when his contract with Mercedes expires. He has just let his pride lose three years of his career for him. In fact, it’s time for me to dust off an excellent term that I don’t get to use nearly enough: “hubris”. Hubris is not just pride, but a specific type of pride that causes one act in such a way that brings about their downfall. So…yeah, that’s what Lewis has just exhibited: HUBRIS.

Sad, really.

In fact, come to think of it, Hamilton’s current situation/career move seems also to share a LOT of similarity to Alonso’s move to Renault after his season with the then-rookie Hamilton. And I think that the outcome will be EERILY similar…

8

Proposition (1)

Hamilton is no better a race driver than Button.

Evidence:

(a comparison between HAM and BUT while they were both racing at Maclaren)

HAM BUT

38 Races 38

6 15% Victory 13% 5

2 5% Pole 0% 0

15 39% Podium 50% 19

8 21% FastesLaps 10% 4

31 81% FinInPoints 86% 33

467.00 49% Points 50% 484.00

(Source http://www.4mula1.ro/compare/driver.php?i=1)

Proposition (2)

HAM is massively overrated (at least vis-a-vis BUT)

Evidence –

‘Just under 5,000 votes have been cast in the last 48 hours and Lewis Hamilton is the overwhelming favourite with 41% of the vote.

It’s a tight battle between Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso for second favourite; Schumacher has 20% of the vote, with Alonso on 18%.

Sebastian Vettel on 8% and Jenson Button on 6% are next up, with Mark Webber on 3%.’

(Source JAF1 – 30/1/10)

(of course, neither of them won the championship and HAM marginally outscored BUT in that season, but the actual outcome as compared with the huge disparity between 42% for HAM and 6% for BUT gives a very good measure of how distorted the general fanbase seems to be (with 2011 where BUT outscored HAM only serving to reinforce the point)).

9

What IF, Rosberg and Lewis are evenlly match? Where does that leave for MS?

10

F1 means business and I’m sure every team wants to get hold of the future heros in F1, I think that’s why Mercedes signed HAM.

It’s not that important comparatively, that if Schumi is being forced out. I think every one has his own perception on this matter.

What I dislike to see is people tend to give little credit to this ‘old man’. I’m gutted to see those pundits critizing Schumi whenever they can on live commentaries. It’s always easy to critize people, but can they do any better if they are on the same seat?

He might score only half the points as Rosberg did in the last 3 years and ran into the back of other’s car a few times. But it’s clear that he did better and better in terms of qualifying and race pace gradually in the last 3 years and even achieved a provisional pole in Monaco. For those who think Rosberg is underestimated, what can u say when u see a man who is 20 years older still improve in his performance on track in a higher degree than u do?

I seriously hope Schumi can secure a driving seat for one more year elsewhere in a better team. After that, if the car has a little more reliability and less tire wear, then win 1 or 2 races and go back into retirement. then other old guys can’t say any thing.

Afterall, he’s still the icon in F1!! pls give a little bit more respect

11

I forgot to add that all those involved in f1, from Eccleston to Dennis to Hamilton. I can only hope that with an even playing field, the best of them wins. It was impressive to see Hamilton put his hands behind him as soon as he got out of the car in Singapore. An extremely clever man in my books.

12

Hello James,

Hamilton said he wanted his dad to remain just his dad and not his manager when they went their separate ways. I suspect that breaking away from Mclaren must’ve been a big deal to him. I also remember Hamilton referring to Red Bull as just a soft drinks company when they dominated 2 years ago. I suspect that Hamilton was misunderstood. May be what he meant was that any team could dominate so long as they go about it the right way.

The reasons I watch F1 races are to find out what the results would be and how they come about so I just have to wait to find out if Hamilton made the right move or not.

13

With the over use of aero and under use of mechanical grip, and the worlds dumbest fake racing gadget – DRS – F1 has become a total joke on the racing front.

Any driver in F1 would be wise to forget about the racing and just milk the cash cow dry.

F1 is totally pathetic and unwatachable as is.

14

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

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

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

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

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

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

15

Totally agree with you. Also remember that McLaren had Adrian Newey for 8 years and only won 1 constructors championship. Adrian then leaves McLaren for Red Bull and look what he’s accomplished in such a short time – 2 DCC and 2 CCC. I think there is a flaw with McLaren’s culture and structure – they do not seem to be able to deliver or execute on a consistent basis. I think with Lewis’ departure, and without manufacturer support, McLaren is a team on the decline. I hope they do not end up like Williams.

16

I think hamilton made most of his decisions from the day he entered motor racing with support from his dad so i have every confidence that his mercedes move is another excellent decision by him, just like his excellent decisions of when to start braking, how hard to brake and when to turn his steering wheel as well as when and how to use any of his other controls he has in the cock pit. as se would put it, he is in the driving seat bound for greatness. like it or not, the truth always wins the day.

17

jordan broke the schumacher return with mercedes story too and was 100% then too. montoya understands the politics at mclaren very well and suggested that hamilton left mclaren for any other team if he wanted to enjoy his success in f1. i hope hamilton enjoys his success at mercedes. it’s a shame schumaker couldn’t repeat what he’s accused of doing at ferrari, building a team around himself.

18

Seems like there are a lot of winners from this deal :

Perez : Gets himself into a topteam

Button : Now gets No.1 driver status

McLaren : Can now concentrate on Button plus more income from Telmex

Mercedes : Gets one of the sports’ biggest names for their ads

Rosberg : No change, still has a dud car and a great teammate

Lewis : Gets the extra money

Schumi : Can now be groomed to takeover from Ross

Only loser would appear to be Sauber who lose a talented driver and a sponsor.

James : Is Perez leaving mid-contract? If so, will Sauber be compensated ?

19

Since 2006 McLaren lost Räikkönen, Alonso and Hamilton. It’s fair to say that these three drivers are three of four best in Formula one and the fourth driver is not interested to drive for McLaren?! McLaren should ask them self’s why the best drivers are leaving them?

It might be so that the best thing with McLaren is they drivers, Lauda, Prost, Senna, Häkkinen, Räikkönen, Alonso, Hamilton is impressive list, or should I say “use to be”?

20
Craig in Manila

Agreed with that. Significant staff turnover is usually a good indication that something is very, very wrong…

21

Not sure how McLaren wins here

22
Craig in Manila

Less aggravation. Can now concentrate on one driver and car-set-up instead of sharing the points between two. More income. I acknowledge that they are losing one of the top three/four drivers on the grid… time will tell if they should’ve tried harder to retain him.

Re my question : Is Perez leaving mid-contract ? Will McL have to cough-up to get him ?

23

No, as I understand it PER was free to go

Sauber’s contract was with Slim and Telnex, not PER personally

24

I read about Damon Hill’s opinion on the matter in a separate publication, very insightful. Every great driver has had some falling out with McLaren except for Hakkinen. I am referring to Lauda, Prost, Senna, Raikonnen, & Alonso. Damon makes a great point in that F1 fans follow the driver, and not the team – and I am one of those – unless you are Ferrari. Although I am a McLaren fan because of Senna & Prost, I will follow Hamilton’s pursuits wherever he goes because he is a great driver. I still find it hard to believe that McLaren keeps all drivers trophies – you (as a driver) work hard and risk your life in the pursuit of glory only for the team to keep the trophy. I hate to say this, but its almost like you are in servitude to the team – it is the team that matters most and drivers are just mere tools of the McLaren machinery. If what Damon says is true, its no wonder Lewis was so eager to leave. James, are you aware of any other team in F1, or professional sports for that matter, where the team keeps the trophy of the driver or player?

25

No, but remember the drivers can geta replica from the organisers very easily and they do that

26

Not sure why so many people say its a bad move. Lewis thinks its the right one and I see no reason to question the thinking one of the best drivers in the world.

Of course Lewis might not win from the 1st race but didn’t Fernando put on an amazing show in 2010 in his 1st year so it’s possible and Lewis is also capable of doing that.

McLaren like in 2007 again lost big time. Anyway F1 will be exciting till the likes of Fernando, Lewis and Kimi are driving. It doesn’t matter where.

27

Lewis to Mercedes. Yawn! All this super-team with Ross Brawn stuff is questionable. It may be a cliché, but there is no I in team. At Ferrari it was Todt, Brawn, Byrne, and 400 others, together with lots of collaboration and a highly creative atmosphere. Just as it should be in any high-tech endeavour. I recently spoke to some Italian business acquaintances, who have a factory very near the Ferrari racing dept. They mentioned the family feeling, and the in depth passion for racing and success. They felt it was hard to describe or really understand, unless you were really part of it. I found it interesting that Ron Dennis had the aim of creating an inspiring workplace with the McLaren technology centre. Couple that with Jenson Button trying to create a group feeling on his side of the garage, and you can see where McLaren have been heading. Would love to visit them.

Much more interesting is the part Niki Lauda will play at Mercedes. Known for being rather ‘direct’, I wonder who will be the first victim. James, do you have any news on exactly what his duties will be in the organisation.

28

Two posts and not the finished version I used for submit. There is a section missing, and no MOD indication. What eat my words?

Missing bit follows “Just as it should be in any high-tech endeavour.”- Those who are accusing McLaren of being incapable of giving Lewis a championship winning car and lacking in creativity etc. have to be joking. The McLaren Group have always been on a similar path to that of Ferrari.

29

Lewis to Mercedes. Yawn! All this super-team with Ross Brawn stuff is questionable. It may be a cliché, but there is no I in team. At Ferrari it was Todt, Brawn, Byrne, and 400 others, together with lots of collaboration and a highly creative atmosphere. Just as it should be in any high-tech endeavour. I recently spoke to some Italian business acquaintances, who have a factory very near the Ferrari racing dept. They mentioned the family feeling, and the in depth passion for racing and success. They felt it was hard to describe unless you were really part of it. I found it interesting that Ron Dennis had the aim of creating an inspiring workplace with the McLaren technology centre. Couple that with Jenson Button trying to create a group feeling on his side of the garage, and you can see where McLaren have been heading. Would love to visit them.

Much more interesting is the part Niki Lauda will play at Mercedes. Known for being rather ‘direct’, I wonder who will be the first victim. James, do you have any news on exactly what his duties will be in the organisation.

30

There was a sports commentator a long time ago who said ‘a true champion never leaves the sport at the top of his (or her)game. They have to be kicked out.’ Is this what’s happening to Schumacher? I hope the old war horse still has a surprise or two left for us.

31

Big big big big news.

Great for F1.

32

Its does feel great that Sergio Perez will be with a front running team. He is a fast learner, and will do well instantly hopefully. I felt from last year to this year he has got the will power to succeed. In Malaysia he was driving the wheels of that car, one I haven’t seen since the late Ayrton Senna and with Hamilton in 2008 British GP.

Lewis will once again prove to the world he is number one, by developing and creating this so called winning team. A big risk, but I am glad he has decided to take this decision. Now lets hope he uses both his mentality and talent to bring his new team forward.

James if you remember Damon Hill, with his Williams contract in 1996 for the following year was not renewed. Hill could have chosen Benneton, Mclaren instead he chose Arrows. Reason to use his skills to make the team a winning team and with Tom Wakinshaw’s Jaguar racing legacy and Benneton. He nearly won the Hungry GP…….

Lets hope that both Brawn and Hamilton can create this dream.

Mercedes are going to run that legacy in which Ferrari did in the late 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Mercedes is providing the tools required for Brawn to rustle up something that is going to be huge.

James, do we know if Mercedes has improved their wind tunnel program or will they be using the whole AMG performance arm like in the DTM?

33

Not quite

Hill could have gone to McLaren but they offered a small retainer plus bonuses. He went for a big cheque from Arrows, underwritten by Pedro Diniz’ sponsor funds

34

God, imagine what a reincarnated F1-loving Sigmund Freud could do with all this hyperventilation going on with we F1 fans! Can we survive this?

It’s hard to see where all of this is heading for Lewis. His initial quest for stardom was cruelly dashed with the hard reality of Red Bull’s TINTIN (Vettel) almost fatally shattering the dream, and recovery seems really uncertain.

35

waiting to see how he fares aganist rosberg

36

Im waiting for Rosberg to whip his ass 🙂

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