Hamilton becomes focus of 2013 F1 driver market

2013 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton’s rumoured move to Mercedes could have a seismic effect on the 2013 driver market by opening up a seat at the team with the fastest car in F1 at the moment.

Hamilton to Mercedes?

A contract extension for Lewis Hamilton with McLaren looked like a formality after Mark Webber re-signed for Red Bull in July.

That meant there was no longer any room for him with last year’s world champions. And it seemed unlikely Fernando Alonso would welcome him at Ferrari, despite his protestations to the contrary.

But, despite Hamilton saying he “didn’t see many problems” in arranging a new contract, weeks passed and no new deal was announced. Then last week the BBC ran a story claiming Hamilton was Mercedes-bound for 2013.

McLaren were quick to deny the claim. But Ross Brawn leant legitimacy to the view that Hamilton might join his team when he said that top drivers would be well-advised to align themselves to manufacturer teams in time for the new 2014 engine rules.

Now in his sixth season with McLaren, Hamilton’s relationship with the team appears to have strained, particularly after he posted confidential team information on Twitter during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

And there is the added lure of a more generous deal. Amid doubts over the commitment of their title sponsor, McLaren have signalled Hamilton’s retainer would not be as generously renewed this time.

But there are compelling reasons why Hamilton might not want to leave McLaren: concern over compromising his championship effort with McLaren over the rest of 2012, doubts over Mercedes’ performance (they’ve scored one win in 51 races since returning to the sport) and commitment to F1 (they have not yet agreed terms for the new Concorde Agreement), and loyalty to the team that brought him through the junior ranks, gave him his F1 break and made him a world champion.

For Hamilton to leave McLaren at a time when they have the quickest car in F1 and a genuine shot at the championship would be a major statement about his faith in their ability to remain competitive in the years to come. And it would mark an end to an association which began when a nine-year-old Hamilton first introduced himself to Ron Dennis and declared he would race for his team one day.

But neither of those things means it isn’t going to happen.

Who would leave Mercedes?

Should Hamilton join Mercedes, which of their drivers will make way? On the face of it the decision is obvious: Nico Rosberg signed a “multi-year” deal in November whereas Michael Schumacher’s three-year deal expires at the end of this season.

But contracts in F1 are often made to be broken. And will Schumacher really want to head back into retirement just as he’s finally getting on terms with his team mate? In the last six races he’s out-qualified Rosberg four times and out-raced him five times.

Who would McLaren turn to?

McLaren are clearly the team to beat at the moment having won the last three races. If Hamilton leaves they can go shopping for a replacement pretty much anywhere.

Martin Whitmarsh has said the team don’t have a ‘Plan B’ should they fail to retain Hamilton. But group chairman Ron Dennis recently reiterated the team’s hiring policy as being simply to sign the best two drivers that are available.

McLaren is a team that signs world champions: Niki Lauda, Keke Rosberg, Nigel Mansell, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button. And McLaren is a team that makes world champions: Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen, Lewis Hamilton.

If they can hire another one, they will. But should Hamilton go that would leave only two plausible options.

An early attempt by Dennis to sign Schumacher was caught in this famous video. Almost two decades later, perhaps this could be Dennis’s chance to finally get his man. It would be a hell of a way to put one over Mercedes.

Failing that, Kimi Raikkonen may be susceptible to overtures from his former team as Lotus continue to come frustratingly close to delivering victories. He had talks about returning to them in 2010 after leaving Ferrari.

But there have also been times in McLaren’s history where their driver choice has been more a case of short-term pragmatism. They have been willing to give opportunities to less experienced drivers. And there’s no shortage of promising talent in the field McLaren could give a dream chance to.

Either Force India driver could fit the bill and McLaren have a connection with the team through their technical supply deal. Sergio Perez and – his recent indiscretion notwithstanding – Romain Grosjean have also impressed, scoring a trio of podiums each this year.

Will Ferrari retain Massa?

Ferrari’s option on Felipe Massa’s services has expired and hasn’t been taken up.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t. Massa’s performances have modestly improved of late with fifth and fourth place finishes in the last two races, albeit aided by a much-improved F2012.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo reiterated today that he believes Sergio Perez is not experienced enough to drive for them yet, despite Perez beating both his drivers on Sunday.

Perez, a Ferrari development driver, is in a similar situation to Massa six years ago. Massa was promoted to Ferrari’s race team in 2006 after three years racing for Sauber and one year spent testing for Ferrari.

While Alonso leads the drivers’ points, Ferrari lie third in the constructors’ championship. With each passing season Massa’s points shortfall compared to his team mate has grown.

Massa is costing Ferrari points, places and, ultimately, millions in lost prize money. That situation is one that even a team as rich as Ferrari cannot tolerate indefinitely.

Other potential moves

Charles Pic is in contention for a seat at Sauber next year according to a recent report in Autosport magazine.

Pic has made an encouraging start to his first F1 season with Marussia, out-qualifying team mate Timo Glock four times and finishing ahead of him in three of the eight races where both were classified.

2013 F1 drivers and teams

The 2013 F1 driver line-up will be updated here as new deals are announced. Here’s the state of play at the moment:

2013 F1 season

Browse all 2013 F1 season articles

Images © McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Lotus F1 Team/LAT, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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205 comments on “Hamilton becomes focus of 2013 F1 driver market”

  1. The first two paragraphs need proof reading.

    1. I agree with this one. Less words per sentence, please. :)

    2. @keithcollantine Oops, I meant the first 2 paragraphs under the ‘Hamilton to Mercedes?’ header. It is the second of those that particularly has a couple of typos.

    3. @matt90 I’ve corrected the error.

      1. That meant there was no longer any room for with last year’s world champions.

        There is still either an extraneous ‘for’, or the word ‘him’ should follow it.

        1. Wow – talk about pedantic. And by that I mean “overly concerned w/ minute details or formalisms.”

  2. FWIW, James Allen’s guess is that Hamilton will replace Schumacher at Mercedes. Schumacher then becomes a brand ambassador for Mercedes post-retirement. I reckon he may have some sort of role in the F1 team, though.

    Adam Cooper tweeted just now:
    “Interesting that M Schumacher has gone to watch the Mercedes update (whoops, rookie driver!) test. I think he’s still motivated…”

    1. I really hope that all this speculation is wrong :o(
      I’m a McLaren fan and a Hamilton fan – it will be fair easier if they stay together!
      Sod the money and tantrums – they should consider the fans views

      1. I agree that F1 should consider the fans’ views in a lot of things. This isn’t one of them, though. :)

      2. F1 has been historically very ignorant of the fans, because fandom doesn’t fill the coffers.

        Its a sport where the teams have historically made very little direct money from the fans, unless you specifically saved all your pennies and actually bought a Mercedes or Ferrari by virtue of McLaren/Ferrari track success.

        I guess the trend buckers in this regard are Renault (cheaper cars) and Red Bull (£1 cans of drink).

        1. Every penny spent in any sport (indirectly) comes from the fans. Who buys tickets? Who watches television? Who is exposed to all the sponsorship?

          1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
            12th September 2012, 17:16

            You’re right, but the tickets aren’t sold in a way you say: “My ticket goes for driver “John Q”. And I think fans will never have a totally direct connection with the contracts in any sport. For example you may wonder why Hamilton wants a wealthier contract at any other team if he is SOOO RICH!!! Well it’s human nature right? A sportsman doesn’t say: i’ll have less fans” just “i’ll get more bills”

          2. @necrodethmortem,

            Me thinks the guy meant that F1, despite raking in money mainly due to fans( indirectly thru TV and stuff ), never seem to care enough for a more ‘fans-on’ approach….like caring enough to ensure that Hamilton does not leave Mclaren, because even if they(f1/mclaren) did, it would in no way ensure any more of their mclaren roadcar sales than by not retaining Hamilton.

            You point is valid, nevertheless.

          3. OmarR-Pepper (@)
            12th September 2012, 17:29

            @necrodethmortem Check this out

        2. F1 has been historically very ignorant of the fans, because fandom doesn’t fill the coffers

          Generalization of a few unnconnected incidents, Don’t you think?

          Ferrari, McLaren and even Merc, have all shelled out big money to hire drivers on such logic as ‘An All Brit team’ or ‘An All German Force’ or even ‘Spanish Red in Ferrari Red’. Surely, the ‘other’ aspects too had been favorable to the teams, yet the above logic were a selling point.

          And a selling point they were, as that is the ( assumed ) generic psyche of f1 fans – to see their country stars in their country brand(team). So, it IS one way of being fan-centric, ain’t it?

          ….AND it did FILL the coffers…apparently! Voda did renew it’s contract in 2010 onboard the ‘An All Brit Team’ bandwagon! Whaddayasay!

      3. I’m like you: a McLaren and a Hamilton fan. If Lewis leaves…I’m not sure which way my loyalty would go, but it would probably stay with McLaren. I have always supported Lewis when everyone else was piling on, but I don’t like disloyalty and he’s been acting badly enough that I’m having trouble justifying it even as a fan.

        1. I am the same, but I think I’ll be comfortable supporting both. McLaren is my favourite team, and would continue to be unless it got a really unappealing driver line-up. But I will also follow drivers, and maybe end up supporting their team by proxy. But perhaps my support of either the team or driver will wane slightly when they are no longer paired, as I became less interested in BAR, who I had also liked, when it became a more corporate Honda, but I still supported Button just as much.

          1. @keithcollantine should run a poll (a)Stay at McLaren (b) Leave to Mercedes

            My vote is (a).

          2. My Vote is “a” as well. :-)

        2. my loyalty is with the driver not the team. i used to support ferrari but when schumy left i rooted for mclaren because lewis was there. if lewis ever switch team to mercedes which i really hope so then i will be supporting mercedes amg petronas next because of the driver..

      4. Talking about fans’ views, should they also take into account, say, my view that Hamilton should definitely move to Mercedes?

        1. I just hope Merc will have enough sense not to hire such a liability.

          1. …or to hire drivers based only on @stjuuv ‘s view

            Then again maybe it could work. Finance a team from premium rate phone poll revenue where the viewers get to vote on crucial decisions (driver contracts, high or low downforce configuration, tyre strategy, team orders).

          2. Oooh. I would love the elimination votings at the end of each month, that would be such a drama.

          3. One point that must be considered is that McLaren are getting sick of his primadonna ways this could mean that they hold secret talks with other drivers, this could mean Hamilton could be left without a top flight drive in 2013, this could do him good and make him reflect on some of his antics.
            To be honest without McLarens backing and help Hamilton might not be where he is today.

            I am not that keen on his I can call the tune attitude these days, I was a fan of Hamilton till some of his underhand tricks came to light over the past few seasons.

            There are a couple of up and comming drivers who would do a great job for McLaren and a year out for Hamilton could make him see that he is not Gods Gift to F1

          4. yeah… who would want the liability of having the best driver in F1?

        2. Good question Steven. I like JCost’s suggestion of a poll to see what most fans would really want? Hamilton at McLaren or at Mercedes?

          Of course, for ratings, sometimes sports (or any entertainment) does better when they have a “bad guy” to root against! Perhaps Lewis could become the new bad guy of Formula 1 LOL

          For me, I’m a still a Lewis fan and hope that he stops with the antics. He seems to be too emotional and flies off the handle without regard for the consequences. Maybe he really does need his father to come back as his manager for adult supervision.

      5. In all of the above I was just sharing my own selfish view that McLaren and Hamilton shouldn’t part ways as I support the two and would prefer to support my favourite driver in my favourite team :)

        I get the “Hammy-haters” he is a bit of a loose cannon with his mouth and tantrums but I like that, it adds some drama to the sport/business.

        As much as I love the speculation about what may or may not happen some elements of F1 are too secretive, technical stuff aside it would be better for us to be able to know about the driver market – in the Football transfer season they quite openly state “Team X are understood to have offered Y amount for player Z”, I think the driver transfers would be a lot more interesting if they were more public.

        For example – if we knew that Mercedes had offered Lewis £60m over 3 years with the freedom to self-promote and keep his trophies etc and then we knew that McLaren had offered £10m a year for X years and he could keep his trophies but not self-promote then we would be in a much better position to understand the inner workings and then see what it was that drove him into making his decision. I’d like to think he’d be where he was most likely to win more rather than being driven purely by ££’s but without knowing the actual offers on the table all we can do is speculate based on rumours and opinions.

        Either way, I hope this gets sorted soon so we can banter about the races, results and who is going to be WDC at the end of the year – as it stands the buzz is around Lewis’ future and not that he is the closest challenger in the (fastest) car that could threaten Alonso’s 3rd WDC

  3. Another great article, really gets you thinking as well. Seems amazing that no one has mentioned Kovalainen to take the step back to the top teams.

    Also, I could be wrong, but the second paragraph doesn’t quite read right. Think Hamiltons name could be missing from the first sentence, “no longer any room for (Hamilton) with last year’s”, but it could just be me.


    1. @trebor27 I think that McLaren might consider hiring Kovalainen again, much water has passed under the bridge since 2009 and Button is likely to be an ‘easier’ team mate than Hamilton was. If Grosjean is now quick in a Lotus (former Renault), why couldn’t Kovalainen be as quick in a McLaren?

      1. I can definitely see Kovalainen returning to McLaren. His Caterham experience hasn’t been what he expected. If you told him two years ago he’d still not have any points at this point in time, I think he’d be very disappointed.

        I think he’d suit Button as a team-mate more than he did Hamilton. Perhaps more evenly matched too.

      2. @trebor27 @girts Though I’d like to see Kovalainen with a quicker team than Caterham, it’s always a bit of a stretch to envisage any driver getting another chance with a team that’s already dropped them once.

        1. @keithcollantine – was it confirmed that McLaren dropped Heikki and signed Jenson before Heikki decided to sign for Caterham (Lotus)?

          1. @ben-n I’m not 100% sure but I think it was pretty obvious anyway. Nobody even mentioned the possibility of McLaren keeping Heikki for 2010, I think there were rumours / talks about Raikkonen, Sutil and Heidfeld being the candidates but never Kovalainen. The official announcement about Button joining McLaren definitely appeared first. I remember taking my McLaren flag off my bedroom’s wall on that day… *sigh*

            Grosjean has rejoined his former team now but the ownership and the management of the team obviously changed in the meantime so that’s probably not a directly comparable situation.

      3. Kovalainen underperformed before. I doubt that McLaren would want to take him on again until he performed well in at least a mid-field car. If he wants to get a top drive anywhere he will probably have to climb the ranks again.

    2. Yeah I don’t think Heikki will end up at McLaren, but Ferrari is a very very big chance. If we presume they’ll drop Massa and (as is a mistake in my book) don’t want Perez yet, Heikki is absolutely textbook perfect.

      Di Resta and Hulkenberg are as inexperienced as Perez in F1 terms, and they’re not gonna go for someone like Schumacher or Raikkonen. Their Ferrari time has both been, the team won’t be willing to spend the money on their retainers or put aside the conflicts that ended both associations, nor will they or Fernando allow such good second drivers who would potentially threaten.

      What they want is someone in that perfect middle ground, not too good or expensive, but not too young and inexperienced/not good enough. Heikki fits that perfectly. He is an experienced and strong driver who would do a better job than Felipe, but he wouldn’t effect the dynamic of Fernando’s team at all, he wouldn’t get near him.

      For the McLaren seat I’m gonna take a stab in the dark and nominate Valtteri Bottas. You heard it here first. :)

      I don’t think he’d be favourite (Di Resta or Hulkenberg are more likely, but ultimately I think Lewis will stay). But he’s deceptively likely, more likely than Kovalainen or Schumacher certainly, and it’s worth the long odds just for the cred if my early prediction comes true. :P

      1. For the McLaren seat I’m gonna take a stab in the dark and nominate Valtteri Bottas

        Toto Wolff specifically said that Bottas to McLaren rumours are complete nonsense. They want to see if they need him at Williams first and they will. Senna’s days are numbered and they know the car is fast. They just need a race winner and Bottas will be just that. Williams know he’s a hot property and won’t give him up (nor his money) so early in his career.

        1. Unless Ron can offer more than the money Valtteri brings, Kimi Raikkonen style. :)

          Don’t think they’d realistically go that out of their way for him though. I certainly hope he ends up in a half decent Williams soon so we can see how good both of them are.

          Imagine if Coughlan can continue to produce this kind of quality car, Bottas turns out as good as he seems, AND Pastor can pull his head in and show the speed he has. Wow what a force.

          1. Assuming Maldonado stays, which will mean that Williams can retain the significant amount of money he brings to the team.

            We all know that raw speed is there from him but his race craft needs substantial development, hopefully Alex Wurz could slap him on the wrist more often.

            To reiterate in regards to money, I sometimes wonder If Maldonado’s sponsorship money is being used to cover up the damages in being lower in the WCC than they should actually be, the latter meaning less income for those who don’t know.

        2. Once upon a time in a blog far far away a humorous column called “the alternative F1” had Ron Dennis saying “To finish first, first you have to be Finnish” I can see Ron returning to a young Finnish driver even if Heiki didn’t quite work out.

      2. @hosford90 Which conflict ended Schumacher’s spell in Ferrari? please enlighten me.

        It looked to me like he decided to leave himself. Ferrari would have kept him for 2007 if he wanted to stay. He left on a high with one of his best drives at Interlagos. And to your point about retainers. Schumacher in Ferrari would be THE story of the year. Advertising and media hype alone would pay for his salary.

      3. would certainly be a better move than Heiki. I dont see how Heiki is textbook perfect for Ferrari. thats dreamland

  4. There’s also Jaime Alguersuari waiting in the wings… I hope to see him back in a team next year.

    1. But where would he fit? Certainly not at the really top teams.

      Perhaps a Sauber, Caterham or Force India is most likely, or a Lotus if one of those seats is vacated.

      I’d say Sauber is favourite for Jaime.

      1. That’s Alguersuari, Pic and even Hamilton for Sauber I’ve heard now!

        Are people thinking Perez ultimately will get the Ferrari seat, or that they’ll drop Kamui?

        Coz I don’t think either is likely.

        1. @hosford90 I wouldn’t bet on anything but I think that Perez will most likely stay with Sauber for another year, while Kobayashi is going to be dropped for Pic, Kovalainen or whoever. Hamilton-to-Sauber is not much more likely than Karthikeyan-to-Ferrari imho.

          1. @girts I have a feeling that Perez will not hang around at Sauber another year. It seems like there are a couple of stronger teams that might pounce on him… and I think Mercedes will be eyeing Perez if Ferrari do not pick him up

        2. If I were the Sauber bosses and had the option to keep both drivers then I would.

          They’ve proved themselves more than competent. But – if one/both of them did move on, I think Alguersuari or Kovalainen would be a good fit.

          1. Kovalainen might just take Koba’s place, if you ask me. It’s the closest Sauber can afford in terms of a race winner, except for Perez.

            They have one of the fastest cars on the grid and, they need someone who can win in that car, alongside Perez (assuming Perez will stay with them for 2013 and move on to Ferrari in 2014).

            Kovalainen is value for money.

          2. I agree that Hamilton to Sauber is no chance.

            I’d keep both too like Ben says. Kobayashi is not bad, he’s just reigned in his previous craziness which unfortunately has the side-effect of less noticeable spectacularness, and he’s suffering against a 5 star top of his game and likely future World Champion team-mate.

            If Sauber can design another good car and step up their own tactical game, with Perez still on board, I can think of few ‘second drivers’ nearly as good as Kobayashi.

            Don’t think Kovalainen will happen, he’ll either stay with Caterham or take a genuine front of the grid offer.

            But you’re so so right, he’s amazing value for money. I can get Montezemolo’s point about Perez, but if they end up keeping Felipe having never seriously looked into grabbing Heikki I’ll be seriously flabbergasted and doubt his astuteness.

          3. Of course, Sauber are a bit of a unknown quantity as it’s pretty clear their performance came from Key’s car design. He hasn’t been there all year – we don’t explicitly know if next years product will be any good.

            Granted, we don’t know if any car is going to be particularly good next year, but Sauber struggled massively on development last year due to financials and are only averaging ‘good’ this year when look at across the whole season (like Renault Lotus, they’ve been as inconsistent as they have been fast due to their tyre handling).

  5. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if Hamilton went to Mercedes – so long Schumacher heads the other way. I have commented on Schumacher coming to McLaren sometime in the future last year, and Keith, if you remember, you brushed this off as far-fetched at best. Now it looks highly plausible.

    IMHO, if Hamilton leaves, it is only because of $$$ and nothing else. Schumacher will find this as a blessing in disguise as he will be able to move to a better team and give the WDC a last hurrah.

    1. Oh ya, as some others have pointed out Hamilton to Mercedes with Schumacher as his team mate will also be mouth-watering. Send Raikkonen as Hamilton’s replacement and I believe we will see the most complete of top teams next year. Finally, replace Massa with Rosberg. Ah, if only this were real!

      1. bravo mate!

  6. A lot of interesting moves yet to come.

    I hadn’t thought about Pic moving, but he has generally compared better to Glock than Di Grassi and D’Ambrosio. It’d be good to see him move through the ranks a bit!

    What I’d like to see is Hamilton swap with Rosberg and have a season battling Schumacher, before Hulkenberg or Di Resta replace Michael for 2014.

  7. The prospect of either MS at Mclaren, or LH v inform MS at Mercedes is mouth watering! I don’t care what they do with Nico too much.

    1. It’d be great to see that happen, but I feel for Michael, it’s either Mercedes or re-retirement… and a very slender possibility to end up at Ferrari for a year.

      I would love to see him carry on.

      1. The idea of Alonso and Schumacher driving together at Ferrari for a season is a pretty mouth watering prospect. The chances of it happening are pretty slim but still. That’d be a record 9 (possibly 10) world championships in one team.

        1. i think that would be a win-win. Just remember the hype when Schumacher announced he would replace Massa after his injury. Ferrari would make tons of money on this and Schumi would finally get a competitive car in his second career. And of course fans would go bonkers.

  8. Schumacher switching over with Hamilton… I completely overlooked that one. Now that would be juicy to say the least!

    1. God damn it! I don’t want to be a Mclaren fan! ARGGGGHHHHHH….

    2. On Spanish media Alonso weighted in on Hamilton to Mercedes thing, he thinks amilton should consider leaving McL because leaving Woking was the best decision of his (Alonso) life…


  9. The thing with the possible Hamilton move, and in particular Ross Brawn’s comments about being aligned to an engine manufacturer, is that to my knowledge Mclaren are set to receive the new turbo V6 made by Mercedes in 2014. It is only after that season that Mclaren will have to decide whether or not to go with another supplier, which judging by the last few weekends seems highly unlikely – Mercedes clear power advantage, and yet more unreliability from Renault.
    What’s most interesting about this situation is Hamilton’s relationship with Mclaren, that is what could make or brake a deal. Brawn has assembled a stellar cast of technical minds at Mercedes, and they are making progress, albeit very slow progress, to a winning team, so it may seem like a plausible option. However, I can’t think that Hamilton’s recent childish behaviour and apparent new found desire to project himself as some kind of ridiculous urban/hip-hop icon is going to endear him to any team. The closest possibly would be Red Bull, who have a younger and cooler image than most in F1. But that option is off the table, and judging by Horner’s comments regarding the telemetry tweet I doubt he would want to have to manage Hamilton either.
    In my opinion Hamilton would be mad to leave Mclaren at the moment. The FIA have cracked down on RBR’s key performance areas because of pressure from Ferrari and Dimontezemolo, and Mclaren have also improved their car design philosophy over a painful few years since 2009. If he wants to win championships he needs to stay put.
    One other factor to consider in this is what if he wins this years WDC, would that give him enough closure to leave Mclaren? Although this scenario is unlikely, as he would need to have signed up somewhere for 2013, sooner than the end of this season.

    1. Hamilton has ups and downs, after a bad race, where he is off the pace and Jenson beats him, there is always rumors about him leaving. But as soon as he wins, like at Monza, he jumps back into Mclarens arms, so I think, if he wins the championship, he’d want to stay.

      But, I think he’s a pretty stupid person outside of a race car, so I suspect he’ll leave the team.

  10. If Schumacher goes to McLaren I will eat my own arms. The only reason he agreed to go to mercedes was because it would mean working with Ross Brawn again. And of course the fact that it would be seen as a German national team. I can’t see any reason why that partnership would come to an end like that just for the sake of putting a better driver into the Mercedes cockpit. Not unless Mercedes had some sort of aversion to selling cars and wanted instead to bolster the sales of BMW and Audi in their domestic market of course!

    One factor which I don’t think has been touched on much is the idea that Schumacher could potentially become a driver mentor to Hamilton. It’s something I think he could really benefit from, and I think Schumacher would be a perfect candidate for it, so long as both were willing to work together. If Schumacher could help Hamilton to iron out the things in his nature which sometimes prevent him from achieving his potential, then he could become a much more formidable driver in the future. Let’s not forget as well that Hamilton does already have something of a relationship with Mercedes, through Norbert Haug. Of course, I still maintain that Hamilton will not win another championship while driving for the Silver Arrows. But it could be a very useful stage in his career, which could allow him to grow and develop as a driver in a way which is simply not going to be possible with McLaren.

    1. Indeed, they set out to be all-German, but Ross Brawn isn’t German, is he? Nor are all the other technical heads in the team. I think they would be happy to open up. Maybe by mutual consent Sch and Ham agree to switch places. It’s a win-win. Btw, Sch is better than that petulant brat of a kid Hamilton. I really liked him, but he’s changed for the worse this year (in terms of character).

      1. hammy changes for the better this year. no baggage as he simply put it..

    2. @mazdachris I totally agree the Schumacher to Mclaren idea has no legs (or arms!) to it at all.
      But I think the idea of Hamilton having Schumacher, or anyone for that matter, as a mentor is very hard to believe. Hamilton has publicly called Schumacher a ‘dirty driver’ amongst other things in the press and on team radio at race weekends. With this in mind, and his normal level of self confidence, I couldn’t see the mentor relationship working at all.

      1. I think things said in the heat of the moment can’t be taken as a person’s opinion in the cold light of day. As someone pointed out on another topic, Alonso has lashed out against Ferrari’s tactics in the past, and yet their relationship now seems to be one of the most loved-up on the grid.

        Of course, it would take willing capitulation from both parties. I can see that Schumacher could fall into the role of mentor very naturally. His success speaks for itself, and when it comes to the mind-management challenges of winning multiple titles, there can be few still involved in the sport who would be better placed to comment. I would imagine there would be a lot of mutual respect between Hamilton and Schumacher. I’d liken it (if you’re at all interested in snooker) to Ronnie O’Sullivan taking on Ray Reardon as a coach, and the success that has unlocked from him. He’s a similarly impulsive character to Hamilton, and I think that it’s one area where he’s weak. Schumacher would be brilliantly placed to help him work on that, and would probably be able to reach Hamilton on a level that few others could.

    3. Yeah I can’t see it happening either. I mean McLaren would have two very mature drivers, one of which would be very close to retirement, like it or not. I think they’d be better off trying to get one of the younger ones, I can’t see Kimi returning there either…

  11. I think that Hamilton’s expected move to Mercedes makes more sense than it seems at the first sight.

    Hamilton’s only goal can be to win more world championships. It is true that McLaren have been building winning cars for umpteen years and that Mercedes are yet to do that. However, the past and the current successes never guarantee a victorious future. Ferrari failed to win a DWC for 21 consecutive years. Talking about McLaren, they have won 0 constructors’ titles and 1 drivers’ title over the last 10 years. Moreover, that title was won by no other than Hamilton himself, by the tiniest margin possible.

    In terms of competitiveness, Mercedes cannot guarantee much for Lewis but the chances are good. The completely new technical regulations, which are going to be implemented in 2014, should increase the optimism.

    Of course, Lewis has been having a very long relationship with McLaren, which used to very strong but these things change. Schumacher left Benetton after winning two titles, Alonso did the same with Renault and Vettel will one day leave Red Bull, too. After all, a driver’s relationship with his team is one between an employee and his employer, not exactly a marriage (and marriages often get divorced, too).

    The love between Hamilton and McLaren, if you call it like that, seems to be dead. It’s time to move on and I believe that the combination of Lewis and Mercedes means that exciting times await both them and us, the fans.

    1. Could you please PM me next weeks lotto numbers? Many thanks :)

      1. @mattb @girts was thinking exactly the same ;)

  12. Hm,

    Any news on how Heikki and Caterham are coming along with their negotiations? It seems Petrov wil probably not be kept on (remember him saying the Russian funds have ran out?). I can imagine they are waiting to see what McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Sauber do though.

    Interesting note, if Schumi stays at Mercedes, and the sign Hamilton, where does Rosberg go? Could Ferrari pick him up? Would McLaren?
    And what about Boullier saying there could be a Dutch driver in F1 next year? Who. And where (provided Lotus continue with Kimi and RoGro itself).

    Its so much fun to speculate :-)

    1. I think Heikki might as well stay at Caterham, unless he gets a call from Ron Dennis. Cterham have been making progress, it’s just that it isn’t visible this year as the field has bunched up at the front. He’s been there 3 years, another will not hurt him. Rosberg to Ferrari seems like a viable option to be. Raikkonen takes Hamilton’s place at McLaren. Sweet dreaming…

    2. @bascb, I missed Bouillier saying there would be a Dutch driver in F1 next year, but did he specifically mean racing, or as the reserve driver (of course, there is already a Dutch reserve driver in Van der Garde).

      1. but did he specifically mean racing

        Haha.. it would rather funny if he didn’t…

    3. I expect that Dutch driver to be Robin Frijns then.

    4. Yeah Frijns is quality, but it’s probably Giedo most likely. If Kovalainen and/or Petrov go the new driver would almost definitely be Van Der Garde (if they want money, experience and solid but not amazing quality) or Rossi (if they want to really take the risk and develop a properly great young talent from the ground up).

      Who knows, maybe Heikki goes to Ferrari/Lotus (very possible) AND Petrov is dropped (less likely but still possible, especially now his money has dried up).

      Van Der Garde and Rossi next year anyone? :)

  13. Massas performance at Spa and Monza were good, however Spa and Monza are the two lowest downforce tracks of the year, where, (to be kind of sarcastic) so long as your DRS and KERs work and you’ve got decent gearing you can’t go wrong.

    Lets not forget the Force India cars had relatively great results between them at Spa and Monza in 2009, these races are not necessarily a barometer for how well a driver is doing in the season in general.

  14. Still, I’m not convinced he’s going anywhere at the moment. It makes no sense to leave McLaren, as it’s a race-winning car whereas the Mercedes AMG isn’t. However, I think we all expect Mercedes to do better every year with the incredible lineup of people Brawn attracted… I’m hoping the move happens because more changes might follow after!

    1. I understand Hamilton desperately wants to win another worldchampionship, but leaving McLaren won’t help I’m afraid. From 2007 to now, McLaren have had the fastest or second fastest car – exept for 2009. It may sound a little harsh, but they lost most titles because of bad driving, not because a lack of speed. Even in 2008 Hamilton managed to nearly throw it all away in the final race. So in fact he himself is the problem, not the car.

      So I think switching to Mercedes won’t help him at all. First of all they have to sort out their tyre-wear problems. I think Mercedes are thinking too much in terms of drag reduction (double DRS) instead of generating downforce. They are still not fast enough to trouble the top teams and I think Hamilton will become increasingly more frustrated, as he showed last year.

      If Hamilton leaves McLaren, they need to find a driver who fits in the team. I think Raikkonen is very happy at Lotus, he’s driving better than ever before. Schumacher will probably retire, so he and Hamilton won’t swap. Some possible candidates: Perez (if he’s not signed for Ferrari), Di Resta (he’s probably the right character for McLaren), Hülkenberg, Alguersuari or indeed Kovalainen (I hope he won’t be a number two driver again). Very interesting!

      1. It may sound a little harsh, but they lost most titles because of bad driving, not because a lack of speed.

        I think that is a little unfair. In 2010 over the entire season I believe they tended to have the 3rd fastest car, and Hamilton did a great deal with it. In 2011 they didn’t have a hope at the championship due to Vettel’s great driving and the Red Bull- Hamilton may have driven poorly at times, but that wasn’t what prevented them from winning. And I’m not sure you can acuse poor driving of being the factor behind losing in 2007 either really.

        I do agree though that McLaren is such a consitently top 2 or 3 team that leaving- this year anyway- is foolish. Perhaps he wanted a 1 year deal before the regulation change, but McLaren wouldn’t have it.

  15. If McLaren lose/let go of Hamilton, then they should go after Perez. If Ferrari don’t want him, then that’s their loss and McLaren’s gain. McLaren might be a team that signs World Champions, but I think Sergio Perez can be World Champion.

    As for the Massa situation, Ferrari should have gotten rid of him years ago. They’ve dallied for too long, and have watched powerlessly as their rivals have won the title time and time again. But based on Stefano Domenicali’s comments, I think Ferrari have every intention of keeping Massa next year, and are laying the groundwork for an announcement – Massa’s re-signing – that no-one is expecting (and that few will welcome).

    Finally, I think a change of scenery will be good for Lewis Hamilton. We saw this when Button moved to McLaren in 2010, where he went from being someone people thought had lucked into a good car because he had nowhere else to go, to being the only team-mate of Hamilton’s to beat him (and the last person most people believed could do it). I think a change of team could be just as good for Hamilton as it was for Button.

    As for who I would like to see on the grid, Kevin Korjus and Felix Serralles both catch my eye. They’re both young, both fast, and while Korjus in particular is having a difficult season (it would not surprise me in the least to learn that Tech-1 has been encouraged to support Jules Bianchi this year), I think both can make it in Formula 1. I also wonder what Mercedes have in store for Robert Wickens and Roberto Merhi. Both were very good in the junior categories, both unfairly missed our on Formula 1, and both are currently being wasted in Mercedes’ DTM campaign. Wickens in particular is being ‘mentored’ by Michael Schumacher, so I would nor be surprised to see him in a Bottas-like role in 2013 and racing in 2014.

    1. I actually agree RE: Massa. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him re-signed. As you mention, I certainly wouldn’t welcome it and i’m sure not many others will!

      Korjus, Serralles, Bianchi, Wickens and Bottas are all hot prospects, but I can’t see more than 2 of them on the grid next year… even then with the lower profile teams.

      1. I also have high hopes for Tio Ellinas and Rio Haryanto. Maybe with Marussia in 2014.

        1. If Pic/Glock moves on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Haryanto with Marussia as soon as next year. Although perhaps he needs another year lower Formula experience before making the step.

          1. I could bet the last cent I own on the fact that Glock will retire after this season. He looks more fed up with Marussia than Hamilton looked with McLaren last weekend and his contract is up. I don’t see anyone else willing to pick him up either so it’s the end of his career, I’m afraid.

            Also, based on Marussia’s history with their no.2 drivers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them drop Pic as well at the end of 2012. So @prisoner-monkeys has a point and what he said there might happen even sooner than 2014.

          2. I’ve heard that Marussia are actually pretty happy with Pic. I would not be surprised to see Glock leave and Pic stay.

            I’ve also heard that Max Chilton has up to fifty million Euros to offer the team if they take him. At the end of the last year, I thought Chilton was someone in the mould of Deletraz – living beyond his means because he had more money than talent. But have Carlin really upped their game this season, and he’s now fifth in the GP2 championship, so maybe he could do it.

      2. Yeah I don’t realistically see any of them but Bottas in a race seat next year. No clue where Bottas might be, could be Williams if they drop Bruno, a smaller team, or even McLaren!

        But unless Bianchi can pull a coup and score the vacant Force India seat there may very likely be if Paul or Nico end up in a Ferrari/McLaren/Mercedes, I can’t see any of the others getting higher than a Friday seat.

    2. I agree McLaren should sign Perez if Hamilton leaves. He’ll outperform Button, which is what they will need. I also think Perez is too good for Ferrari right now, i.e. too much of a potential threat to Alonso. Which is why Massa willl stay, he’s now at just the right Goldilocks level not too slow and not to quick. Hamilton and Mercedes looks a good combination, providing Schumacher lingering around isn’t an issue (I can’t see him given Hamilton sufficient space) while Ross Brawn’s comment about joining a manufacturer team has a ring of plausibility to it.

      1. Im not sure how good Perez actually is,his quali performances have been less than stellar and sans the Sauber’s tyre management capabilities or the top 10 tyre rule,he proabably wouldnt have been able to get even half of the points he has got thus far. Not to mention some rather silly errors,such as the crash in Monaco.

        1. unfortunately in F1, the “grain of salt” don’t work :-)
          He has improved significantly in his second year.

          1. So says the 2012 Pirellis. Kobayashi has beaten him 8-5 in quali thus far and he is no Alonso.

    3. Yeah I tend to think Massa is gonna stay too, based on the Perez situation. We know they want him, but don’t think he’s ready. So 2013 is clearly a sacrifice basically. They’re willing to just put up with Felipe for a single year then take Perez for 2014. It’s far cheaper and far less effort to keep Felipe than to go to all the effort of someone new just to throw them away after a year.

    4. I agree with you about McLaren going for Perez if Hamilton leaves.

      In fact, my money says that if Hamilton leaves McLaren, Williams will sign Bottas and Ferrari will sign Perez, just to avoid losing their oh-so-promising talents to McLaren in the next few years. Then again, I think they’ll probably do that anyways.

  16. I think the person who will benefit the most from Lewis leaving McLaren has to be JB. Assuming McLaren don’t sign another world champion as his team-mate – Kimi or MSC – then Jenson will surely get the no.1 status. With that he can have the car built around him and we know how quick he is when the car has a set-up that suits him! He will be a real title contender in a very quick car.

    Jenson and Lewis might well have a good working relationship, but they drive completely differently so the car is never going to suit either of them perfectly. I think they are actually slowing each other down in the long run, and therefore drivers and constructors points as well.

    Mercedes will get a new star driver, Lewis will get a huge paycheck and can get a fresh start, McLaren don’t have to spend so much on their drivers and, most importantly, JB can fight on his own for another championship!

    1. I agree to a degree with you, however Mclaren will have already started on next years car. So if Lewis did leave, after all his input, I feel that Jenson wont really benefit next year, but only in 2014, perhaps, if his contract extension is applied.

    2. But if the car fails to perform as intended – e.g. due to unknown tyre wear/management – is it really prudent to rest all their hopes on a driver who was pretty much no-where for a good chunk of this season?

      1. I guess not, if his loss of form this year is anything serious to go by. I would add though, that his loss of form might not have been so severe if the McLaren car was as quick as it is now or at the start of the season. Also for the rest of the season he has been driving at or near the front of the field, so we’re not exactly talking about Felipe Massa here.

        Having said that in Canada Lewis won and lapped Jenson in the process, so you may be right

  17. I’m struggling to see the advantage of being in “a manufacturer team”. Ross Brawn’s team had more success as a customer… Will the new turbo engines no longer be “frozen”? Will McLaren be at a disadvantage as a Mercedes customer – stuck with older engines and fewer updates?

    Even if that happened, it shouldn’t be like the early 90s when only one team had the outstanding engine, such as the Honda or Renault. Even if one engine is stronger than the others, there’ll still be three or four teams using it.

  18. Senna for the seat anyone…

    1. Assuming the Williams line-up is Maldonado/Bottas… which I think we can, i’m struggling to see Senna fit anywhere. I’d imagine he wouldn’t want to return to a backmarker, so that’s HRT and Marussia out.

      Caterham will probably want to aim a bit higher than Senna (with no disrespect intended!).

      Toro Rosso, Red Bull, Lotus and the top teams are all sorted or are looking at the real big boys.

      Sauber and Force India will be looking to pick up the pieces from the top teams after their musical chairs has finished.

    2. No. Senna doesn’t deserve to be in Formula 1. He’s too slow, too inconsistent, and Williams already have enough liabilities in Pastor Maldonado. The sooner they drop Senna, the better for all involved.

      1. Unfortunately I agree with you. I’m hopelessly nostalgic and was hoping he’d do well in the Williams. I could make excuses for him, but the fact is that he is just not good enough.

      2. @prisoner-monkeys My opinion on Senna is not as scathing as yours but I also believe that he does not really belong to F1.

        I think this is one of the cases where we, fans, sometimes mix likeability with performance. Senna is a nice, good-looking guy with a famous surname and it’s true that he could have had more luck in his career so far but nothing has ever suggested that he’s a better driver than, let’s say, d’Ambrosio or Chandhok.

      3. Inconsistent? Senna seems to be consistently qualifying reasonably well and appears to be consistently scoring points, unlike his liability of a team mate. Senna is more deserving of a seat in F1 based on capability than Maldonado

        1. Yeah…he’s scoring one point at a time in a car that is easily race-winning material. If that isn’t underperforming, I don’t know what is.

          1. If it was race winning material, it would be doing just that.

          2. @jamesf1 – have you forgotten Barcelona, only a few months ago?

          3. @ben-n No, I have not. Have you missed the 12 other races we’ve had this year?

        2. Senna has been consistently going out in Q2, whilst Maldonado has been making Q3 more often than not. Maldonado has the pace needed to get the results Williams deserve, Senna doesn’t, even if he doesn’t crash the car as much.

        3. Yeah I don’t think he’s inconsistent, he’s just consistently too slow.

      4. No. Senna doesn’t deserve to be in Formula 1. He’s too slow, too inconsistent, and Williams already have enough liabilities in Pastor Maldonado. The sooner they drop Senna, the better for all involved.

        I know there are some Senna supporters here (and i feel for you), but i have to agree with this comment.

    3. If someone (anyone) gives Senna a FOURTH chance in F1, I’m gonna stop watching…

  19. I hope he leaves, because I don’t think he and Whitmarsh get along. I believe their relationship has poisoned the entire McLaren team. Neither need the other for future success so divorce and go your separate way. I don’t see any healing behavior on either party’s part so why stick with all this drama. At some point this get’s sickening.
    They (McLaren and Hamilton) are professional enough and have a shared interest in making this a successful year on the track so get on with it. However, next year pursue your goals with different partners.
    Personally I am tired of this soap opera.

  20. I just hope something happens. This is the third year where the 4 biggest teams have the same driver line-ups. If it happens again, the midfield talents will stay where they are, and there’ll pretty much be no rookies entering F1.

    As I’ve said many times before, F1 should only have drivers capable of fighting for the world championship and young talents on their way to becoming capable of that. That’s why I think Massa, possibly Kobayashi, possibly Senna, Petrov and Karthikeyan need to go.

    That would free up the Ferrari seat as well as allow some young drivers to debut and some to return (Alguersuari).

    I really hope we get to see Perez, Hulkenberg or di Resta tested against a world champion (Alonso or Button), as well as the likes of Bianchi, Bottas, Bird, Wickens and Frijns get a chance in Formula 1.

    1. @Enigma Agreed! I think there should even be an official rule, which would say that, if a driver cannot score a certain proportion (50%?) of his team mate’s points over a certain period of time (2 years?), then he, as a minimum, must not stay with the same team.

      1. I dont, and this idea wouldnt work. Money talks.

      2. Making rules which dictate how teams run their driver line ups is asking for trouble.

        I remember John Surtees saying that there should be a promotion and relegation system with the drivers in F1 where the top GP2 drivers in one year, automatically get F1 seats the following year. But this just wouldn’t work, sometimes there would be years (such as this year) where none of the GP2 drivers deserve a seat in F1.

  21. So can someone explain, how in the world Montezemolo can say The guy just beat both of his drivers, in his home track, with his engine, is not as good as Massa to sit in his car, which by te way he selected and will leave Ferrari without being WDC.
    Sour grapes all the way, he is so sure all people can’t wait to go in Ferrari, Vettel is quickly falling of Alonso grace so ….

    Perez will be WDC with or without him, but then he maybe just patting on the back Massa for being a good dog or simply sign up Hamilton already.

    1. Forgot to say he also may not want to bother Sauber customer now that VW shopping for 2014 V6

    2. It’s simple actually. Montezemolo is a colossal blowhard, and nothing he says can be taken too seriously. In fact, the more he says something the less likely it is to be true. He probably even thinks he’s quite clever…

      I am almost sure that Ferrari will be hiring Perez for next year. He is handily outscoring Massa in a smaller team with a slower car. Im not buying that he “isnt experienced enough”. Experienced enough for what? To play a support role to Fernando Alonso? Please. They dont need Perez to be championship material, they just need him to be an apprentice to Alonso until at least 2016, a role for which Perez is more than qualified. On top of that, isnt he part of their driver development program, thereby offering them a validation of said program? If Ferrari does not sign him, they are fools.

  22. People ridicule me for this, and he’s often overlooked, but I think Heiki Kovalainen going back to Mclaren would be a sensible move on both parts. He’s worked with the team before, knows their style and much of their staff. THe team know him, how he works and likes the car.

    Heikki has recieved a lot of praise from commentators during the last three seasons where he’s driven a shoddy Team Lotus/Caterham around the circuits, not really put a foot wrong, not upset others or the team. For the most part, he has been consistently the highest finisher amongst the three new teams. I feel it’s a good chance to get him back up to the sharp end of the grid. He was put into a dog of a Renault in 2007, switched to Mclaren in 2008 where the team was in a bit of disarray following the Spygate saga and the exit of Alonso. He then had to put up with one of Mclaren’s worst cars in 2009, before being told his contract was up (fair enough) and wont be taken back on for 2010.

    This is a golden opportunity for Mclaren IMO.

    Failing that, doing a swap with Mercedes for Rosberg or Schumacher wouldnt be a bad call for Mclaren, should Lewis be heading to Brackley.

    With regards to Massa, I’ve felt that this season was his last chance. Three seasons of being outperformed on the trott after his accident, and several more before his accident (2008 being an exception) has really hurt Ferrari. Massa has been there for a very long time now. Ferrari need to look to the future. Perez is the only logical choice here. He’s proven Montezemelo wrong. Perez is quick, has great mind management and a young, focus individual. An excellent partner for Alonso.

    Failing that, if Ferrari want to nurture Perez a little longer, I wonder if a certain MSC would bow out with the team that made the man…

    1. It would seem to me that Kovalainen to Ferrari is the more ‘sensible move’. But either way, he needs to be in a better team and I believe 2013 will be the year where he gets there. The man deserves it.

    2. @jamesf1, Kovalainen’s time at McLaren remains a bit of a mystery to me. Occasionally he would be on the pace of Hamilton, especially in qualifying, but his race performances were too often lacklustre. I’m sure there are numerous examples, but one that spring to my mind was Monza 2009. Hamilton was on pole but he was fuelled light and would need to make two stops, but Kovailanen was fuelled for one stop and was an impressive fourth, ahead of both Brawns in fifth and sixth (who finished 1 and 2). It all went wrong for Kovailanen on the first lap as he dropped quite a few places, and in the race he never made up any ground, finishing one minute behind the leaders (and was therefore also almost a minute behind Hamilton, before the latter famously binned it on the last lap).

      In interviews, Kovailanen gave the impression that he now knows what went wrong in those McLaren days, but I never learned what except that McLaren was pushing him to make many hours in the simulator in order to improve his performance (as Williams did with Nakano that same year). The question will be whether McLaren is also convinced that he sorted out the issues he had in 2008 and 2009. I’m not sure what his three years at Caterham prove. He was consistently fastest of the newcomers, but he was also in the fastest car of the newcomers, driving against an uncomfortable Trulli first, and now Petrov. Note that in the no-mans land at the back of the field he is driving around in, there is a lot less pressure to perform than at McLaren, at the front and fighting for championships.

      Ron Dennis said that McLaren would always try to get the two best available drivers, and I think they would first try to get a promising youngster (Perez, Hulkenberg, Rosberg) or an established champion (Kimi) before going for a guy they know is good, but not that good.

    3. @adrianmorse Nakano? That’s a blast from the mediocrities of Formula one past, I guess you mean Nakajima :)

      Personally I can’t see Hamilton leaving Mclaren just yet (cue an announcement saying he’s already signed) but if he does leave I wouldn’t pick Kovalainen. The guy is as a likeable as they come but in my mind he’s another Fisichella or Frentzen, brilliant in a mediocre car but hasn’t got what it takes to be championship material. Perez is an infinitely more exciting choice. A move to Ferrari for Heikki would however make perfect sense in my opinion, Ferrari want someone quicker than Massa for the constructors, but not so quick they challenge Alonso, Heikki would seem to fit the bill.

      If Ferrari don’t want Perez Mclaren should make every effort to sign him, if not then I would go after Hulkenberg as he is really getting on top of the job now he’s settled into the team.

    4. Heiki Kovalainen going back to Mclaren would be a sensible move on both parts.

      Perhaps it would. But I personally don’t think it’s gonna happen. Ron Dennis doesn’t strike me as a person who likes to go backwards, and frankly he (meaning the entire McLaren team/company) is in a position to pick and choose any driver he wants. And I have to say, there are better options available.

      1. I dont think Ron has much input on driver selection nowadays. I’ll bet he has a say or an opinion on it, but as Team Principal, I think it’s down to Martin Whitmarsh now.

        1. I beg to differ

  23. Massa WILL be dropped and the end of this year. Reason: Massa has not delivered enough points for the constructors championship. I like the guy but he’s had more chances than any F1 driver would get to improve.

  24. I’ve read all the comments, and agreed and disagreed with many of the points. Here’s my take on things…

    I believe that McLaren are fed up with Lewis. It’s been said here, elsewhere and for a long time that Lewis is a bit of a spoiled brat that didn’t deserve to be put into a McLaren at such a young age, but he brought home a championship within two years (and almost won it on his maiden year). As a team mate to Button (who has to be the paddocks’ coolest, calmest guy) he looks very good, but makes his mistakes, and I believe that had Button not had such bad luck he would have beaten Lewis last year, and would be doing a lot better this year. Let’s remember that Button’s shortcomings were related to operational, setup and weather/tyres, whereas Lewis has crashed and made severe mistakes that Button just has not. When was the last time Button crashed into someone (memory says overtaking the backmarker Kartikeyan earlier this year, but i could be wrong). This is very different to the kind of accident that Lewis gets involved with, which usually sees him throw his steering wheel out the car and then go on to speak badly of the team etc etc.

    I think McLaren should get rid of him. Bring in someone else, and like the others in this thread, I think the top choices are (in order):

    1 Kovaleined
    2 Di Resta
    3 Michael Schumacher

    Now Schumacher coming to McLaren would be just awesome, but I doubt it would be for more than a season. Kovaleinen likewise, I imagine Whitmarsh would put some sort of “75% of what Button gets or your out” clause, and finally Di Resta, which would be the all british line up they have now, and I’m sure that Button and Paul would get on famously. I’d even go to say that Di Resta is a younger version of Button, smooth, calm, always positive and very quick in the right car. Are their driving styles similar? if they are then its a no brainer surely…

    1. whereas Lewis has crashed and made severe mistakes that Button just has not. When was the last time Button crashed into someone (memory says overtaking the backmarker Kartikeyan earlier this year, but i could be wrong).

      Indeed Button has crashed into somebody this year, whereas Hamilton has not. Unless you wish to blame Hamilton for the fact that Maldonado and Grosjean ran into him (and were subsequently penalized). I think you think McLaren should let Hamilton go because you don’t like Hamilton.

    2. You absolutely make me laugh with that comment of yours. Agree with AdrianMorse all the way. Keep on hating and your bud will keep on losing to Lewis as well.

    3. What happens when Di Resta start beating up on Button? And you know it will happen. Until McLaren makes the perfect car for Jenson he is a scrub. He does not have the talent to drive a car with too many faults to it’s limit.

      1. arguably so. But either way (and I accept your comments, that actually this year, Lewis has made fewer mistakes) I still agree with a few here that Lewis will probably go at the end of the year.

        Button has indeed had his chances, but even if he isn’t as good as Lewis, Kimi, Alonso, Schumi, Vettel and perhaps even Webber, along the lines of this discussion, if I were to choose to step into the boots of any of these guys, I’d choose Button, cos he has the right position, enough speed, and the right team to take him to the end of his career with his head held high. None of those other than Webber have made it to that point in their career (except webber doesn’t have a WDC yet

    4. When was the last time Button crashed into someone (memory says overtaking the backmarker Kartikeyan earlier this year, but i could be wrong).

      Button hit Kovalianen while racing for position in Monaco, then claimed on the radio that the mighty Caterham car pushed him off.

  25. This is so exciting. So much can happen.

    1. It’s exciting to think about and much can happen. I’d love to see a proper shakeup of the drivers, it’s been too stagnant at the top for too long!
      Unfortunately I think not much will change. I think Hamilton and his agents may be flirting seriously with Mercedes with no intention of signing, in order to force McLaren into a better deal. McLaren just have to call his bluff, or accede to his demands and Hamilton stays. Either way Hamilton in my view will stay with the team for a long, long time to come.

      1. As long as Whitmarsh is there, I doubt it.

        1. I don’t think Martin Whitmarsh is the biggest thing stopping Hamilton signing a new contract.

  26. I’m happy for any change in the top teams. The stability has gone on for quite long – and I miss some shakeup!

    Personally I’d still like to see Vettel in a McLaren – as my favorite driver and my favorite team, the two are a match made in heaven for me. Ferrari or Mercedes would do nicely too though :P

  27. One thing I haven’t seen many comments on is the role of Martin Whitmarsh in the negotiations with Hamilton’s management. In the post-race interview that Ron Dennis gave at Monza, he said something like: “the board has a position, the shareholders have a position, and it’s Martin’s job to get what we want”. Could that position be that they want Hamilton to stay, and Whitmarsh’s job is on the line if he makes a mess of the negotiations?

    1. Board : He stays
      Share Holders : half price

  28. I think it has to be noted that a lot of what will happen before 2013 is massively dictated by various happenings in 2014 – the engine switch, possible return of Kubica, the probable retirement of Schumacher, the possible retirement of Webber. That’s a lot of potential movement in the top teams, and I think that will no doubt come into play during current discussions. It’s fascinating!

    1. I think Kubica will find it very difficult to come back to F1. He kept Renault/Lotus in the dark and his injuries are preventing him from driving without pain in a monocoque of an open-seater. Also, so much has happened in the sport since then on top of all the new potential coming through.

      However, that’s not to say I wouldnt welcome his return. It could happen…

  29. My expectation concerning Schumi in 2013: no longer in F1, though not entirely shure of it.
    My ridiculously strong desire concering schumi in 2013: still racing, at eiter Merc, McLaren or any front-running team. I want to see him win (at least) just once more before he goes.

    As for the rest…i’m quite curious about who Ferrari will enlist to replace Massa.

  30. Hamillton is going to stay. Let’s remember that the only reason that the speculation is fevered is because Eddie Jordan started a rumor. Eddie Jordan is not a reliable source on anything, and exists to attract attention to himself. All of the arm-chair psychology about people’s “body language” and whether they jumped high enough on a podium is of no moment.

    Notwithstanding Hamilton’s counter-productive swearing that he just loves McLaren and wants to stay, his managers are earning money to be diligent and to get the best deal. In this scenario where McLaren have announced that Hamilton is getting a pay-cut, XIX have extra incentive to beat the bushes for more money and to demonstrate that they didn’t sell client cheaply.

    For Hamilton it is undertandably galling that he is being asked to take a pay cut when he as the top of his game, beating his teammate like a rug, and now 2nd in the WDC he should be leading if not for team screw-ups. There is the economic reality issue but the money in JB’s contract, or going to the shareholders, is real money too. Furthermore, what econmic reality exactly—have the oil reserves in Bahrain been downgraded?

    It has to be more galling because Dennis has been piling pressure on Hamilton in the process. It has to sting to hear the man who invested in you personally for a decade basically telling you that you are just not worth that much.

    So XIX is being diligent—for their client and in favor of their commission. What will they find? Ferrari don’t want him for various reasons, and don’t need him. Ferrari only needs one good driver, it’s how they roll. Lotus is situated right now, and not flush with cash anyway. Mercedes have infinite deutsche marks, and MSC a question mark. Webber has just booked with RBR and Vettel is not going anywhere while Newey is there. Sauber and FI might be worth a thought-exercise, but they can’t afford Hamilton anyway, if money is the issue.

    So what we have is a potential to replace Schumacher, and some kind of deal with Lotus. I’m sure Brawn would happily boot Schumacher to get Hamilton. But Brawn has continuously failed to deliver a good car, and they can’t blame the drivers, who are obviously stellar. I’m sure Stuttgart is going to be skeptical that spending a mint on Hamilton is the solution to Brawn’s failures—I’m sure they heard the same when Rosberg’s contract was put on the table. For his part Hamilton should learn from Alonso, who left McLaren in a huff and ended up in the back for two years. Lotus may be on the rise, sort of. But they are likely not in a position to take a big hit to buy out one of their current drivers AND pay Hamilton’s freight. They could go looking for capital to do a deal to swap Kimi to McLaren, but that’s a big ask in this climate.

    So Mercedes is the only real scenario. Brawn may be waving around big rolls of cash, but the people paying the bills have reason to balk. And Hamilton and XIX know that the “brand” will not benefit from two years of riding in the peleton.

    Therefore, he’s staying put.

    1. I think Hamilton is going to stay too. He´s so good and McLaren can´t replace him.
      As Alonso said today: Hamilton is the “only” driver that can win a race without the best car. Other drivers can´t

    2. I stopped reading after:

      Let’s remember that the only reason that the speculation is fevered is because Eddie Jordan started a rumor.

      That is not the only reason. No one really takes Eddie seriously. He is a bit like Montezemolo. He says a lot of things, and sometimes he gets some of them right (depending on where he got the information from). But, the main contribution that triggered this debate is the recent words and subsequent reactions of Dennis, Whitmarsh and Hamilton.

    3. Eddie didnt start the ball rolling, he was fed the information by Simon Fuller of XIX and another insider (See James Allen’s article on this).

      All Eddie did, in typical Eddie fashion was fuel the fire which had only just been kindled.

  31. McLaren and Hamilton remind me of a married couple that fell in love as teenagers and now take eachother for granted, and the resentment is building. McLaren needs to recognize that Hamilton is their most plausible championship chance. Hamilton needs to recognize that McLaren is his most plausible championship chance.

    But right now, they’re both being idiots. McLaren should have swallowed their pride and offered him what he wants. Hamilton should have swallowed his pride and taken the offers they’ve already presented to him. The fact that the two parties havent reached an agreement by now leads one to believe that their priorities lie in areas other than winning races and championships.

    I think that, like the resentful husband and wife, McLaren and Hamilton could use some time apart, in order to recognize what a good thing they had.

    1. McLaren needs to recognize that Hamilton is their most plausible championship chance.

      But McLaren don’t think like that. And they never have for any driver. Sure they recognise talent. But they equally recognise that their driver success is only possible because of their team. To McLaren, drivers are replaceable assets employed (payed) to do a job. I know it sounds somewhat bad, but that is how it is with Ron Dennis and he doesn’t hide it.

      1. But after Australia, Withmarsh was saying Button could win the drivers championship. He didn’t say both drivers could win the championship, or Mclaren could win lots of races. So what I believe is that a teams objective is only dependent on who is at the helm of affairs at any given time.
        If Mclaren are interested in the constructors’, they can’t win it without the drivers scoring points.

    2. Spot on! They’ll realize sooner than later as to what they have lost out on. But this current team principal and the management team as a whole makes me laugh. Not as professional as they seem from the outside with their fancy factory and offices. Being just a corporate and not a racing team that complements each other (driver and the team) is never going to win you much glory.

      1. +1

      2. +1
        Whitmarsh is very cold and distant.

  32. I don’t know but i’m kinda surprised to see only few people saying about Raikkonen….its no secret Witmarsh really respects and praises Kimi…and lewis leaving Mclaren is only going to make way for Kimi…thats is why there’s no confirmation of Kimi being with Lotus yet…he’s waiting for Hamilton’s confirmation..

    1. He have contract until the end of next year and a stake in Lotus F1 Team. We don’t know anything about performance clauses of course, which he presumably exceeded by now.

      Unless Button will take all McLaren PR work on him self, I see Kimi quitting F1 again before he goes back to McLaren do that “nonsense”.

  33. If Mclaren does want a WCC and Hamilton does leave, Raikkonen is their only choice, he is a world champion and consistent, otherwise i dont see Mclaren winning the WCC in the near future i think a button and raikkonen pairing would go down well, if raikkonen wants another world championship then mclaren is his place, he wont win a wdc with lotus harsh but true

    1. Unfortunately the acrid smell of hastily burnt bridges follows Raikkonen around the paddock like a brown stripe on his overalls.

      Anyway I can’t see Raikkonen wanting to go back there. he’s too fond of having long hair and wearing hats which are too big for him. Both of which are a real no-no if you’re driving for Team Sensible.

      1. Mclaren need him, but he wont go back. apparently hes ‘locked’ into a 2013 contract with lotus now

  34. If Lewis wants to win this years WDC and potentially one more next year, then he should be staying at McLaren. If Lewis wants to win multiple WDCs and not just have a chance at it but actually dominate the way his talent and skills permit, then he must move on. Why? Because he needs to be at his happy place and I just don’t see it at McLaren. The team and the company behaves just like how their latest road car behaves on the road. Disciplined, Smart, technically outstanding yet falling short of true brilliance and actual passion on the road.

    Lewis needs a team wrapped around his success on the track. He needs a leader to show him exactly what he has to do to win multiple titles. With Rosberg at Merc or even Schumi and also good reliability, Lewis can even win a WCC for the team. Rosberg and Schumacher are top drivers, maybe not the best but they are nearly there. He needs a change in scenario and he needs a fresh mind. He needs someone like Ross Brawn to keep him focussed on whats at stake once he hits the track. Lewis’ character is flawed just like many other racing greats and that’s the only reason he needs a father figure even though he is old enough to be on his own.

    He isn’t matured enough to survive with actual success in the cruel world of Formula 1. Surely, people will feel betrayed and McLaren along with Ron will have a bitter taste about this but he left the team on one team principal’s hand who genuinely and openly favours a driver he has brought on from another team (Jenson Button).

    1. Would you care to elaborate how a car can have “actual passion on the road”?

      1. I am not sure what you drive but if you have ever driven a Ferrari and for comparisons sake, the latest 458, you’ll definitely feel how it embraces the road and fights you and every single move you make. I haven’t driven the MP4-12C yet, been on it though and it was fast but all I hear from the drivers feedback, its boring. Lacks a clear personality.

        Saying things like, McLaren is all about winning races and not mentioning “winning the championship” a single time in that interview Sky took of Ron, I have to say that’s exactly whats lacking at McLaren. It looks like they don’t necessarily care much about the true passion of racing. It’s way too technical.

      2. Humour him for a second…surely you get what he’s trying to say?

        1. @electrolite, I’m not really sure I get the concept of passion in a car at all. I’ve heard it mentioned often enough, but I think it’s all nonsense. If the MP4-12C had a Ferrari badge on it I’m sure people would say it had loads of passion. Likewise, a McLaren 458 would be thought dull. It’s all down to the image of the company, I think.

          But there’s nothing wrong with McLaren’s attitude. Ron Dennis has as much passion for his work as is humanly possible, if you ask me. It’s just that his passion manifests itself in perfectionism and attention to detail rather than producing ridiculous cars that will only be fully exploited by 1% of their owners 1% of the time yet are somehow more exciting for it.

  35. Funny how every year we talk about the silly season starts earlier and earlier but this time it’s actually quite late!

    For what it’s worth, I see Rosberg going to McLaren and Hamilton going to Merc (on a two year deal, in case a seat at Red Bull becomes free at some point and Merc aren’t very quick in 2014 after all).

    Schumi stays in the other Merc seat for one more year, and Perez joins Ferrari (Luca was basically having us all on).

    If all this comes true, I will refer you all back to this comment!!!

    1. This is exactly how I see it as well.

      Red Bull: Vettel / Webber
      Ferrari: Alonso / Perez
      McLaren: Button / Rosberg
      Lotus: Raikkonen / Grosjean
      Mercedes: Hamilton / Schumacher

      Now, someone tell me that wouldn’t be a brilliant line-up for the top 5 teams…

      Add a more level-headed Maldonado / Bottas at Williams and Kovalainen / Alguersuari at Sauber and it really won’t matter what the other 5 teams are doing imho…

      1. Going to +1 that.

      2. +2
        One exception
        McLaren: Rosberg/Button.

        1. britanny on top of button?

          1. I wish I could delete this comment before Keith gives me a e-hammer

          2. I wish you could edit it so you could spell Britney correctly.

          3. Yes, why not? That has been his position with Hamilton over the last three years.
            But it really does not matter because he will be Whitmarsh’s boy regardless.

  36. Hamilton should not be afraid of comprimising his 2012 chances of he announces a move to Mercedes. For sure Mc Laren, and mr Dennis, will treat him as Fairly as they did with Alonso in 2007, so perhaps Keith might consider re visiting that part of the article :-)

  37. All I can say is that loyalty works both ways.
    Where is Mclaren’s loyalty.
    Mclaren has aligned their future with Button and have shown it.
    There is no longer a loyalty factor, he has been made to look like an outsider, long before the tweet.
    Spa was just the last straw of a breakdown of trust in the team.
    All we hear is rear wing, but I believe it goes beyond that.
    Information was not shared, therein lies the root cause of the tweet.

    1. wow, interesting point.
      A lot people may have overlooked what that tweet was about, in rush to just criticize Lewis, but he’s no fool, there’s most probably more to that tweet than has been explored so far.

    2. When it happened last week, it was easy to notice the complacency in the garages about getting the new wing to work with his vehicle. But noh, everyone here claimed it was just some delusional conspiracy.

      And at Monza, HAM improvement was the slowest I ever saw as if he was alone just dealing with it. So whatever ppl that use to work with him, they are not there now.

  38. I think a Button/Raikkonen pairing at McLaren would work. Raikkonen was never one for politics or conversation, just driving. I could see that working! The problem with Hamilton now is that he has gone too long without a championship and has now got itchy feet. We must remember that when he became champion four years ago he was only in his second season and the world was his oyster. The press were suggesting that he would be a multiple champion and he would dominate and that for varying reasons has not happened.
    On top of that, he has a team mate in Jenson Button who has not been as ‘easy’ to beat as many assumed back in 2010. And worse than that, he has become popular at McLaren and that in itself is a problem. But in all honesty, five years is an eternity in F1 and for me the time is right for a change at McLaren.
    If rumours are to be believed that Mercedes are considering jacking it in then Hamilton’s signing could prove vital for the teams future, and I for one do not want to see another F1 team go down the pan. Whatever happens it is going to be exciting, and its only fair that at some stage another driver should be given a shot at McLaren as they are one of the best teams.

  39. Well as per my perception, I think that Hamilton may move to Mercedes. Another big transfer will be Kimi to Ferrari and Massa probably driving for Sauber while Sergio moves to Lotus. 2012 season may also be the final one for the seven time world champion. For the smaller teams, some alterations and they will enhance the mid-field battle(hopefully). All in all a 2013 will be a better prospect!

  40. Or maybe Sergio may move to Mc Laren as Ron Dennis is always searching for a driver with speed and intellect(hope Sergio has those attributes) and Paul Di Resta moving to Lotus. Robert Kubica comes back in F1( prob. with Force India), the rest remains the same as posted earlier.

  41. I cant see how another team other than mclaren will tolerate antics of hamilton. Not all teams have a babysitter (withmarsh) in charge .

    1. :D, No-one is more babysat than Alonso at Ferrari right now.

      1. I agree! Alonso is the biggest baby F1 has seen since Montoya!

        1. All the top drivers are loved by their teams and if you call them babysitting them, you can. vettle is Red Bulls’ beloved and so is Button. Lewis once was and Alonso is Ferrari and why should not they be. vettel won 2 championshiips, Alonso is on the verge of winning one of the most competitive champioships. They all deserve this

  42. The push MC i s making this year will def. cause setbacks in the next season. And I don’t think HAM & BUT both now old drivers will tolerate such reverse gears in their fortunes. So I can see why next season is not something to look forward to including the potential loss of their main sponsors.

  43. I think it would be great if Hamilton moved to Mercedes. Him and Schumacher would make an awesome team in my opinion. We might even see better races coming out of Mercedes with such strong team.
    I’m not surprised in the least bit about Massa possibly leaving Ferrari. He’s always seemed to stand in the shadow of his teammate whether its Schumi, Raikkonen, or Alonso.

    1. Massa wasnt in the shadow of Kimi in 2008. On te contrary, Kimi was in Massa’s shadow

  44. You are all saying that Ferrai would not want to sign Parez yet coz he is deemed too inexperienced. But what about the possibility that he himself does not want to join Ferrari becasue Alonso is there and he will eat him alive. I guess noone who wants to be a world champion would join Ferrai coz Alonso is the beloved there.

  45. go to mercedes lewis!

  46. anyone seen the new mobil 1 commercial with lewis hamilton and tony stewart? lewis gives his car away to a fan. i dont wanna sound like a conspiracy theorist but doesn’t this seem a little bit of a give away to him moving teams? haha i know it’s a stupid idea but let me know if you agree.

  47. In an alternate universe…

    Vettel to Ferrari
    Hamilton to Mercedes
    Schumacher to Redbull
    Raikkonen to McLaren
    Massa and Kubica to Lotus.

    Only the first two are even realistic or ever likely to happen, but it sure would make for some fireworks.

  48. Hamilton should move to merc, maclaren should give timo glock a run, and ferrari will probably bring in fisichella for a season. I think the tiffosi would probably like to see an experienced italian in a ferrari. And to be fair to him if he had the pre season in the car he would probably at least equil massas achievements.

  49. Based on what I have seen, read and heard, this is what I foresee:

    1) Hamilton to Mercedes —-> Schumi retires —-> Kimi to McLaren


    If you read the article above, looks like Hamilton wants to go for the big bucks. He wants trophies. helmets and what not for himself. That happens to be against the tradition with McLaren. HAM also thanks his team for the ‘opportunity’ to win with them on the team radio in Italy. His subdued body language during post race celebration suggests a lot. Actions sometimes speak louder than words.

    McLaren will want a world champion to replace HAM, 2 options, Kimi or Schumi, really hard to see Schumi moving to McLaren, and Ron Dennis is aware of the speed Kimi brings.

    2) Hamilton stays at McLaren —> Schumi gets a 1 yr contract at Mercedes —> Kimi to Ferrari —> Kov/Massa to Lotus


    Stefano Domenicialli’s reckons RAI is a dangerous competitor to Fernando. I bet Alonso thinks he can beat RAI. But RAI has been traditionally strong in Spa, Suzuka, Malaysia, Hungary, Silverstone, Monaco and Germany. Together they will certainly make a formidable driver pairing, bring home plenty of points and should be a fascinating contest to watch.

  50. Schumacher to McLaren? Wow. Never thought of that one and I was totally unaware of that video. That would be amazing. I see no reason for Schumacher to hang up his boots just yet so why the heck not.

  51. Kimi to Mclaren is better than Kimi to lotus or ferrari, ferrari will treat him as a number 2 driver which he isnt and lotus wont give him a car capable of winning races

  52. Here’s one from left field…. Senna to McLaren… Could be a sponsor’s dream – though this Senna hasn’t delivered the goods yet. But in all seriousness, it’ll be good to see Kimi back at McLaren.

  53. I think F1 needs . . .
    . . . two or three of the more senior drivers to retire at the end of the season so that aspiring new drivers can actually get a seat somewhere. The new intake might only last one season, but there will be more hopefuls behind them.
    The F1 field looks a bit constipated at the moment.

    1. +1

      Massa, schumacher and button would be my 3.

      1. actually, webber before button, forgot about him, havent seen that much of him recently.

        But if those 4 retired, things could be a lot more interesting.

  54. raikkonen and kovalinen would make a dream team at lotus! if they made a car that is fast enough to win that is

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