Champions disagree over Hamilton’s Mercedes switch

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Three-times champion Niki Lauda says he understands Lewis Hamilton’s desire to change teams but fellow thrice-champion Jackie Stewart says he would not have made the same move.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Lewis Hamilton needed a new challenge, says Mercedes’s Niki Lauda (The Guardian)

“I understand him because if you drive six years for same the team and for the same people you get used to each other. It works for him because he won one championship and he is winning races, but nevertheless a new challenge with new people … you learn different things and different approaches – it’s something that for a competitive guy like Lewis was very interesting.”

Sir Jackie Stewart: Lewis Hamilton is a Merc berk (Daily Star)

“McLaren have the resources, the money, the long-term commitment and huge experience. If I were Lewis I would have stayed with them. He would not be where he is today without them – and there is a degree of loyalty which you should always have.”

Is this the final lap for Nurburgring? (The Independent)

“Concern for the Nurburgring’s future is not limited to the locals. In motoring history, this is a place of international importance, scene of some of the most historic Formula One races.”

Prost tests modern Red Bull F1 car (Autosport)

“I’ve had many opportunities with other teams in the past and I never wanted to do it. But recently I thought maybe it would not be too bad to know what modern Formula 1 is like.”

Kimi can be champion – Grosjean (ESPN)

“We were very evenly matched on pace but he is fighting to be world champion, and has a very good chance of achieving that. He is still a very, very good driver.”

McLaren still backing Lewis (Sky)

“We have a competitive car at the minute and we have six races left. We can win all of those six races and in my view we can win the championship. So starting next week in Japan we will be focussing on that.”

Bianchi wins at Paul Ricard and is back in the lead (Ferrari)

“Jules Bianchi’s pursuit of the top slot in the World Series 3.5 was given a boost today when he took a great win in the second race at Paul Ricard. This result, along with a fourth place in Race 1 sees the Frenchman leap to the top of the leaderboard, five points ahead of second placed Robin Frijns.”


Comment of the day

Bernie Ecclestone expects the 2014 engine change to be scrapped but @Bosyber isn’t so sure it will be:

It is not as if changing plans (delaying?) now would be cheaper, the engines are already designed and on the test banks since at least a month we have heard.

If they scrap them now the engine guys have spent a lot of the required money already, and for nothing. They will ask for compensation, or just change plans to leave (Renault if they can’t get the smaller turbo they really want?)

From the forum

Happy birthday!

No F1 Fanatic birthdays today.

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

After 108 laps of Watkins Glen Jim Clark came home first to win the United States Grand Prix 45 years ago today.

The only other driver on the lead lap was team mate Graham Hill, making it a one-two finish for Lotus. Denny Hulme moved closer to clinching the title with third place.

Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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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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124 comments on “Champions disagree over Hamilton’s Mercedes switch”

  1. ‘On this day feature is my favourite part of this, I think. That was amazing footage.

    I just wish that with this new podium format, they’d brought the old laurel wreaths back too. Or is that a little too much prestige next to £2000 watches being handed out by a marketing stooge like boiled sweets?

    1. Loved the press conferences when Alonso was at McLaren & he refused to wear all the crap they tried to hand him. Lewis was sitting with the bright white jacket with all the sponsors pointing forward & saying everything they told him to (Vodafone-McLaren-Mercedes etc.) while Alonso was slouched in his chair wearing his dirty grey race suit. Brilliant

    2. This makes me so excited for the 49 coming out on iRacing soon! And oh man, the SOUND…

    3. That was a great little montage indeed. I loved seeing Amon spin and then a guy just leaps onto the track and throws sand (or whatever) on the track, different times I guess. Alse nice spin from the Honda driver

      1. They throw cement dust on the track to absorb oil spills.

    4. The old laurel wreaths were taken out in the 1980s after complaints by… sponsors, of course. (Surprise, surprise!) They complained that the laurels blocked the sponsor patches on the drivers’ overalls.

      1. They should have put the sponsor logos in a different place

      2. @journeyer Thank you. Nice bit of trivia that I didn’t know. It’s something that I never thought about until now.
        They still keep other podium rituals going though. It was Dan Gurney who started the champagne spraying on the podium in 1967 after winning Le Mans.

    5. A laurel wreath and a quick snog from a grid girl? Sounds good to me.

  2. Martin Whitmarsh has told Sky Sports that McLaren will continue to support Lewis Hamilton’s title bid

    I didn’t know how much of a comedian Martin Whitmarsh was

    McLaren Team Principal says he trusts the 27-year-old not to share confidential information with the Silver Arrows

    he means via Twitter

    Seriously Keith what can stop him from sharing confidential data with Mercedes, is there any clause or something like that in his contract or it’s just a gentleman agreement ????
    Let’s suppose that he will share those information with Mercedes, what can Mclaren do if they can prove that,,,,

    1. McLaren want to win the WDC just as much as Lewis. They’re not gonna shoot themselves in the foot by neglecting Hamilton.

      Still, I do wonder about the non-sharing of information part. I know many technical people have a ‘gardening period’ where they’re employed and are left to sit around before they jump ship so they don’t bring the latest information or ideas with them. I think a lot of information must be covered by non-disclosure clauses in contracts also. Anybody know what the situation with Hamilton would be?

    2. I didn’t know how much of a comedian Martin Whitmarsh was

      Why wouldn’t McLaren support Hamilton’s title bid? As punishment for leaving? That makes no sense – even though Hamilton would be carrying the number one on a Mercedes next year, history would remember it as a title won in a McLaren, because the title would be credited to McLaren, not Mercedes.

      Seriously Keith what can stop him from sharing confidential data with Mercedes, is there any clause or something like that in his contract or it’s just a gentleman agreement ????

      It’s not really an issue. All of the teams will be working on their 2013 cars by now, and the Mercedes will be done once Hamilton formally joins them. They won’t be able to simply take what Hamilton knows, bolt it onto the car and expect it to work for them as well as it does on the McLaren. Mercedes will have to direct resources away from their own development, adapt it to fit their car, extensively test it, and then use it. Just look at what Lotus are doing with the double-DRS – Mercedes first used it in Australia in March, but it’s now October and Lotus will only be ready to race it in Japan next week. And Lotus are the only team developing it; the others don’t think the system is worth the extended, expensive development window. Mercedes may be faced with a similar problem in adapting anything Hamilton could give them.

      Not that he would know much. Now that he has committed to another team, McLaren will likely take pains to limit what Hamilton knows about the MP/4-28. Hamilton won’t protest being cut out of the loop, because he knows he gave up that right when he signed for Mercedes.

      1. @prisoner-monkeys
        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve understood that Lotus’ and Mercedes’ double DRS devices are two completely different systems. For instance, Mercedes’ double DRS requires using DRS, whereas Lotus’ double DRS system is passive and works all the time.

        Also, Lotus said already before Spa that they wouldn’t use their double DRS before Suzuka anyway, because it gives little advantage in Spa, Monza and Singapore.

        1. @hotbottoms – That’s correct, however, the difference comes from the way the regulations are enforced. The FIA mandates that the safety cell of each car is homologated, and once it is approved, the teams cannot change it without special permission, which is only granted to improve safety. Mercedes’ double-DRS system uses channels that run through the safety cell to direct air through the car and over the front wing. Because of the rules preventing changes to the safety cell, Lotus could not copy it directly. They had to come up with their own system, which is what I mean when I say Mercedes would have to adapt any ideas Hamilton brought to them.

    3. You have to ask yourself what information Lewis could give Mercedes that Mercedes would not already be aware of. It’s not like Lewis has a set of blueprints in his pocket.

      1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
        1st October 2012, 2:36

        He could take photos of intimate parts of the car and pass them on to Mercedes.

        1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
          1st October 2012, 3:03

          Like what the top snappers already photograph everything on the outside and as much as they can on the inside of an f1 car whilst they are being put together on race weekends. Plus mercedes make the engine and gear box that mclaren use. I don’t see what else mercedes could want apart from maybe mclarens baffle design.

        2. That would be clearly a case of espionage though @tmcs88, something its unlikely Hamilton would go for (esp. after the experience of 2007 Spygate!) and its even more unlikely Mercedes would be in for that.

          But the real argument is what @hohum writes, there’s not that much that Hamilton can tell Mercedes they would not be aware of anyhow. Not to mention that the cars are all well in development by now, probably too much to go for anything but a really amazing idea.

        3. Given his past, he’s more likely to post them to Twitter than give them to Ross Brawn…

          1. As a big Lewis fan, I wish I could say I resent that, but it’s true…and funny. :-)

      2. He could give his new engineers ideas, that’s all they need. Just like Pedro told Sauber about the F-Duct.

      3. Perhaps Lewis can explain to Mercedes how McLaren has learned to use its tyres; probably he knows other details about how the car works, and the engineers at Mercedes could get some inspiration from that.

        As for Martin Whitmarsh trusting Lewis not to tell anything, I don’t expect to Hamilton to call up Ross Brawn late Sunday afternoon in Brazil, and say:” Listen, Ross, I have some interesting things I think you’d like to hear.” On the other hand, during winter testing in 2013, when they’re trying to move the car forward together, you can’t expect Hamilton to excuse himself by saying: “Sorry guys, I know how to get better consistency out of the tyres, but I’m not allowed to tell you”.

        In the end, though, even if Hamilton would go to Mercedes now and told them everything he knew, I don’t think he has that much to tell, unless McLaren are engineering some revolutionary “K-duct” concept, as @spinmastermic mentioned De La Rosa shared with Sauber (did he really?)

        1. Firstly, the cars are apples & oranges – you can’t apply what you’ve learnt from one to another.

          Secondly, I’m pretty sure Hamilton just drives the cars. I doubt he has any in-depth knowledge of *how* McLaren suddenly improved the car for Germany, beyond the obvious bodywork tweaks. He can talk to the engineers and discuss how to improve it, but I doubt he’d know a CFD suite from a wind-tunnel beyond the obvious.

          Finally, Pirelli will probably slightly alter the compounds again, both to respond to the criticism of the narrow operating temperatures and to defeat most of the learning the teams have done.

          1. My point exactly. I’d be wary of what Aldo Costa, Newey et al. could bring but seriously, no driver can bring much in depth in the technical cutting edge aspect. They may have an impact on organisation, strategy maybe, but as to bringing information a top engineer doesn’t already know, I’d doubt it very much.

          2. Secondly, I’m pretty sure Hamilton just drives the cars. I doubt he has any in-depth knowledge of *how* McLaren suddenly improved the car for Germany, beyond the obvious bodywork tweaks. He can talk to the engineers and discuss how to improve it, but I doubt he’d know a CFD suite from a wind-tunnel beyond the obvious.

            That ^

          3. Its really hard to tell, how much a driver can actually “take with him” in that sense, although some of the things you can see at Ferrari now, and indeed the things we know McLarens drivers and engineers were curious about from Ferrari show that it can sometimes be little things still having a significant impact.

            That said, the fact that Mercedes has been McLarens partner for years and Haug a team insider too, mean there won’t be that much things at McLaren that would surprise the team (Oh, you know how to seriously bungle pitstops, now that is interesting! Technical issues ending promising weekends, nah we are good at those ourselves, ….)

          4. LOL@bascb, that’s a good way to put it :)

      4. McLaren kept the J-Dampers secret for years. Until a McLaren mechanic moved to Renault with the plans and the Renault designers did not read the plans, yet suddenly came up with the same idea.

        Or when a Honda mechanic moved to Toyota and then Toyota also had a double diffuser at the start of the 2009 season.

        It’s probably mostly the mechanics who would have detailed knowledge, but if Hamilton would simply know of a device like the J-damper or double diffuser, he could easily convey that info.

        There is probably a lot more that we don’t know and the drivers do.

        Although if Hamilton would have learned of a brilliant idea coming at McLaren he’d probably be quite weary. They have been saying this to him every season and every time it’s been pretty much a dud.

    4. The two big precedents I can think of are both motorcycle ones: Degner and Valentino Rossi. Ernst Degner left the hardships of East Germany (and racing with MZ) and after a little while found himself in Japan, working for Suzuki. Aside from the espionage of getting over the East German border in the boot of a car, he also took everything he knew about two-stroke expansion chambers and so on. But he only took ideas, stored in his head: no technical documents.

      Valentino Rossi left Honda for Yamaha and again, didn’t take any blueprints with him, but helped transfer the professional working practices of the Honda team to Yamaha, to make the outfit more efficient and competitive.

      The point is that there’s plenty that Hamilton could potentially take with him that will make a difference, that only an insider would know. Big ideas (like Ernst Degner’s) won’t be ever so useful next year as the car will already be well into development, but the simpler things (“Oh, you do that, do you? At McLaren, we always did this.”) will probably have a more immediate effect. And everyone knows how McLaren have their own ways of doing things.

      1. The thing is though @splittimes that the things you describe can never be left behind, as its part of the person a team is employing.

        And I also think that between teams, with Hamilton going to Mercedes there’s not much inner team operating that their erstwhile owners, longtime engine suppliers will not be familiar with. After all, Haug has been in the teams garages for an even longer time as Hamilton has driven for the team!

      2. @splittimes, in the case of engine development Mercedes already know about their own engine and in the case of Rossi to Honda that is just a later variation on the Schumacher/Brawn move to Ferrari which is also something Mercedes know a bit about already.

    5. What can Lewis Hamilton possibly reveal to Ross Brawn. Very little I suspect. The level of technical knowledge that Lewis has about F1 car design you could write on a fag packet therefore I doubt he will be able to communicate anything about the MP4/28 in sufficient technical detail for it to be remotely useful to Mercedes.

      1. Exactly, Schumi brought already all of that,
        set up and driving evaluation is all really left for driver to do,
        How to make car better at responding at driver skill,
        what is missing, sort of what Button gets accused of overdoing ….

  3. Kimi can be champion – Grosjean (ESPN)

    Raikkonen is one of my favorite drivers, but I’m not exactly overly optimistic about his chances. He’s 45 points behind Alonso and Lotus is falling behind in development.

    1. Does anybody know what is going on with this DRS device Lotus were thinking of using? Surely that would bridge the gap in performance as theres not much in it between the top teams

      1. @glenj They’re meant to be using it this weekend. They didn’t have enough confidence in it at Spa because of the weather and it wasn’t ‘configured’ to work with Monza.

    2. In my opinion, it’s not just development. It seems Lotus has forgotten ‘how to win’. They make a lot of strategy and tactical mistakes, or at least have room for improvement. While Kimi is doing great, he hasn’t has any breathtaking drives, even at circuits we could usually count on him.

      I still hope he can win a race this year and remain in the battle for the WDC, even if only mathematically, as long as possible.

      1. That depends on your definition of “breathtaking” I suppose. Hungary was an amazing drive in the race ( not so much qualifying) where he showed pace beyond what the team expected and moreover, he’d planned it. Of course, 1 race in 14 (2 if you count Bahrain), is less than what you would have expected of him pre-break.

        That article you referenced Keith, isn’t original material, no matter how ESPN presents it. It’s a total copy/paste job of the Lotus pre-Suzuka chat with Grosjean found here:
        That’s not criticism of you; I’m merely pointing out that not everyone is as transparent and magnanimous with providing references as you are and arguably they should be.

        1. Given the apparant effect of time out of the sport, I think Kimi has done brilliantly.

        2. Hungary was the one race where they got everything right, strategy wise, most of the races they lost plenty of points due to that.

      2. I’d say the overtake on Schumacher in Spa was breathtaking. And although Schu is not what he was he’s still great at defensive driving.

        Raikkonen is not what he once was in qualifying but in the race he is quite excellent. 4th best driver on the grid who’s currently 3rd overall.

        Also in a red bull or Mclaren he’d likely still be 3rd but with a win or two and a DNF or two. In a Ferrari he’d be 2nd IMO. Still a great driver, albeit with faults , but still brilliant to watch most times.

        1. I disagree! Given his relentless consistency this season I suspect Kimi could have been on his way to titile no.2 in a slightly stronger car.

        2. Räikkönen has never been excellent qualifier, his strength has always been race pace. Even in 2007 both Massa and McLaren drivers qualified better than him.

          All drivers have their strong and weak spots. You could say that Räikkönen should better up in qualifying, but then again Vettel and Hamilton could be better up on Sundays and so on. After all, it’s the overall performance that matters and drivers can always compensate their weak spots by performing better on other factors.

      3. Considering the circumstances (Lotus’ form last year + 1st comeback year for Raikkonen), I think they have done very well.

        I still have to admit though, they could’ve done slightly better, with wins possible in Valencia, Barcelona, Bahrain etc, with low grid slots and not so perfect race strategies hindering them.

        Nevertheless, I still think they have been improving steadily, having maximised the car’s potential in their weaker tracks like Spa and Monza (due to the apparent lack of straight line speed, as demonstrated by Kimi vs Michael), by earning fairly strong points when possible.

      4. “breathtaking drives” these days seem to be that the racers drop out of Q2 and then mount harder tyres a the start. Then pretty much endure the whole race and pray the strategy works.

    3. It’s just the Lotus hype train. Ironically, if they spent as much time working on their race management as they did on their public relations, then they probably would be winning and not just telling everyone that they can.

    4. I think Kimi has lost a tenth or slightly more.
      In the past, he was reputed as being able to drive the pants out of a car, but lately, and at least over a single lap, Grosjean seems to be getting the better of him, and we have seen 2 occasions where team order has been used to get Kimi ahead of his team mate.
      No doubt he is still very fast, but his extended leave has got him out of synch with his true pace.
      If he can win again, it might do wonders for his confidence.

      1. The single lap pace is down to the car – it’s fairly obvious that, like the Sauber, it has issues raising the temperatures of its tyres. This means they’re almost always stuck in the pack, but have more tyres available and can run them longer – it’s basically been the Lotus/Sauber strategy all year (to try and luck a win etc).

      2. Grojean is no slouch either

      3. Raikkonen always was more of a racer than a qualifier. He usually set the fastest lap during the race. Fastest laps these are more a result of strategy. The driver who puts on softer tyres last gets the fastest lap.

    5. @kingshark – I’m unsure about how realistic his title hopes are now, but the more points he can take of Alonso the better. It might mean that come Brazil we have a championship to be won or lost!

  4. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
    1st October 2012, 2:21

    Sir Jackie Stewart: “He would not be where he is today without them – and there is a degree of loyalty which you should always have.”

    This is the same sentiment that I alluded to with regards to Jenson and Honda/Brawn/Merc, a concept that I now firmly reject. Fact is, loyalty only goes so far and when you consider how short a drivers career is (and just how easily a career can be tragically cut short), the mantra must always be to follow your heart and do what’s right for you. Whether or not your decision is popular is irrelevant, as long as you can look yourself in the mirror each morning and feel a sense of contentment and satisfaction, nothing else matters.

    From what I’ve gleaned from Lewis’s comments and attitude over the past year, this is precisely what he is doing, he is putting his happiness before his popularity.

    1. I believe society has changed somewhat, and I tend to agree @tmcs88 I think that sport has evolved into an aggressively competitive machine, and if you want to win championships you need to make decisions for yourself.

      Although, why on earth leave a team that is at its peak, for a team that is desperately trying to bridge the gap, I will never know. We will see the end result of his decision in the coming years.

      If its a deal based primarily on a cash grab, he won’t succeed, if its a chance to build a team around him and make a good fist of it, then he has a chance.

      1. BrandHamilton
        1st October 2012, 5:34

        My local coffee cafe, a very famous national chain, actually also grows and processes its own coffee plantation, over and above selling coffee(its main USP).

        Sometime back, they started to retail coffee powder/bean on the same brand name as their coffee. Despite being the numero uno in coffee cafe business and immensely popular with coffee drinkers, this cafe chain could not meet even a fraction of it’s projected coffee powder/bean sales.
        WHY??? – Because, each time people noticed the coffee powder pack, they associated it with the brand’s actual coffee(powder+water or powder+milk+water). Strange as it may seem, their survey indicated that people simply loved visiting their cafe and drinking their coffee but were reluctant to buy the same brand’s coffee powder/beans for whatever reasons.

        The moral here is that people psychology mostly, if not always, tends to associate a brand name only with a certain category that the brand name has gotten to be most successful at/with. Mclaren-Hamilton combo has become such a phenomenon, irrespective of how many wc they have won, that a continued mutual relationship will render possibly mclaren and definitely hamilton brand, useless as stand alone, and only relevant together.

        This seems to be exactly what Hamilton’s management, with their exposure to American sports where brand value is the most valued, fears and the number one reason for hamilton’s migration, despite and notwithstanding the fair statement that Mclaren seems to be the best bet for hamilton to win additional wc!

        1. I wouldn’t be surprised that Hamilton’s management are a big reason for the Hamilton switch.

          And your coffee example is interesting, but even if we accept that this brand analogy applies to F1 drivers and teams, there are many companies/brands that expanded into different fields with great success.

          I dont think people will lose interest in either Hamilton or McLaren. For some, this development is rather exciting as it brings some change into the top teams. Back in the day it was much more common for the best drivers to switch teams if they thought that the car would be better. For example Senna trying to go to Williams but blocked by Prost. Both were long time McLaren drivers but knew the Williams would be unbeatable (and it practically was). Loyalty seemed less important for these guys. I cant see the 2013 Merc outpacing the Mclaren but thats another discussion.

    2. He would not be where he is today without them – and there is a degree of loyalty which you should always have.

      Well time will tell. Jackie didn’t stay with BRM. They were a proven championship winning team in F1 and he left them for Matra. Looking back it’s hard to compare BRM to McLaren but they were still a very capable team in their days.
      Jackies move to Matra, was to a team that had at least support from a automotive manufacturer (like Mercedes) rather than BRM that were purely a race team. Maybe someone here can enlighten us on Jackies reason for switching teams? But looking over it, it seems a bit of an unusual comment for him to make. If this was Hamilton jumping to his 3rd or 4th team then maybe I’d agree.
      If Hamilton wins a title or maybe even 2 with Mercedes, it would make his comment seem rather silly as he would have emulated Jackie himself.

      1. I found this part quite a strange comment by Jackie, because Hamilton has been at the team for 6 years, towing the ‘Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ line, so I think that’s quite enough time in terms of team loyalty.

        I think there was a breakdown in trust between MW and LH and when that happens, for the sake of his own happiness I think he needed a change. He’s not going to think, well I’ve fallen out with the team but because I’m loyal I’m going to stick around, quite the opposite might actually be more ‘loyal’. So I think even if Hamilton doesn’t win anything at Merc, Jackie’s comments are probably not ones I’d agree with.

      2. Jackie god love him just likes the sound of his own voice and waffles any old guff to anyone who’ll listen. His eulogy to Syd on the BBC was utter drivle, embarrassing even.

        His battles to improve safety in his younger days whilst highly commendable have given him an expectation to be listened to and he’s more than willing at a moments notice to conjour an opinion on a subject that he had never previously considered.

        I’ve always found him to have an air of conceit which winds me up. His comments about Hamilton should be ignored because they stupid.

        1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
          1st October 2012, 14:47

          “just likes the sound of his own voice and waffles any old guff to anyone who’ll listen.”

          seems familier

          “His eulogy to Syd on the BBC was utter drivle, embarrassing even. ”

          i thought it was nice

          “given him an expectation to be listened to and he’s more than willing at a moments notice to conjour an opinion on a subject that he had never previously considered.”

          sounding terribly familiar now

          “His comments about Hamilton should be ignored because they stupid.”

          Oh i had better delete this reply for the reason stated above then.

    3. @tmcs88 I thought that was a rather silly quote from Stewart to be honest. Loyalty is not a measure of respect and I’m sure Hamilton is very grateful for what McLaren have provided him with. For him to say that Hamilton would not be where is today without McLaren makes it sound like he wouldn’t have got into F1 any other way which I think is a massive oversight from Stewart in that article. I’m not saying he definitely would have done without McLaren, we all know it’s not as simple as just being good at what you do, but for Stewart to say that about a multiple race winner and world champion I think is slightly offensive.

      Also, I don’t like that article because they keep calling him ‘Hammy’. Seriously? Hammy? It makes me want to hit things. My dislike for tabloids continues to grow!

  5. It’s normally the case that I would disregard what comes from Niki Lauda in favour of Jackie Stewart, but I’m much more inclined to agree with Lauda’s assessment in this instance. I think Jackie, like so many of Lewis’ fans at the moment, are judging this move too harshly before we’ve even had a chance to see how it will begin to pan out; what possible merits there may be to his decision in the future. I’m sceptical myself; I’m not totally convinced it was the right thing to if he wants a lot of championship-winning success in the future. In regards to him, as a person, it’s obviously the right choice. Change is just necessary for one to develop and grow sometimes. It’s no secret that he was seen as a prodigal son within McLaren; their own personally honed talent, but this has stifled his growth as a racing driver and a man, in addition to that of the team’s usual suffocating approach to how they manage drivers.

    I also feel that loyalty can only go so far — both ways. Has McLaren played a huge part in his successes? Of course, they have. Has he, in return, done his best to deliver for them as often as he can? Yes, he’s always gone out there and raced his heart out. He’s also tried desperately to help them to that elusive Constructor’s Championship — to no avail (unless this year’s is to eventually fall to them). Have they both, though, let each other down from time to time? Yes, in equal measure. Hamilton should be staring at a third title this year, leading the 2012 standings by some margin with that. 2007 was lost either in China — where it’s arguable that was simply the team’s fault (they left him out too long), Hamilton’s (he could have provided stronger opposition to their disastrous decision), or a combination of both — or Interlagos. The car let him down in the end, the gearbox having a sudden attack of gremlins, but with his storming drive back up to seventh following that, when he needed fifth to seal the title, you have to question if his sloppy driving in the opening laps ruined his chances more than he’d care to admit. Without that, would he have managed the coveted fifth place and been the champion in his first year?

    I don’t know. I just think it’s easy to say McLaren will provide him with a suitable challenger more often than not, but you have to seriously question why that having been the case during most of his time there, in combination with his obvious talents, hasn’t delivered more success than they currently have (it’s looking like he’ll end his tenure there still as just a one-time champion). There’s got to be something wrong, so perhaps a change will sort it all out for all considered. It’s not like it can be expected for him to stay there for all his time; in debt to them for all they’ve given him. Nor could they be expected to bend over backwards to retain his services, if it simply wasn’t what he wanted. I don’t feel they owe each other anything. They’ve given it their all. It’s been a bumpy ride. It’s delivered plenty of success. Now it’s over.

    I look forward to seeing what he can deliver in a Mercedes, and the car they, themselves, can deliver for him and Rosberg. I also can’t wait to see if he and McLaren can, in fact, put all this aside and go out there, win all the remaining races and the championship along with it.

    1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
      1st October 2012, 2:47

      It’s normally the case that I would disregard what comes from Niki Lauda in favour of Jackie Stewart, but I’m much more inclined to agree with Lauda’s assessment in this instance.

      Indeed, it’s a little known fact that you should never trust a man who has a women’s name (Jackie and Niki), two first names (John Terry) or is named Bernie Ecclestone.

      1. @tmcs88 I had a small chuckle to myself over that.

      2. And remember that little Bernie is the one who is pulling the rops and in return to keeping the McLaren drivers in the 2007 championship and not decalssify them, McLaren had to agree to lose it at all costs.

        Come 2008 and that same Bernie sees it benefincial to get a certain black driver to win it to bring in the dollars from the black-segment of us, the sheeple. Ever wondered how on Earth caoul both Toyota drives post almost the same exact time for the last lap of the Brazilian GP 2008 while running half a lap away from each other? Who controls the clocks?

        Enjoy the show :)

          1. Out of all the mistakes in that comment, you pick up on the one obvious spelling error.

            Have a look back through the facts in both cases, in 2007 it was the TEAM that was found guilty, not the drivers. In 2008 it was raining while both Toyotas were on dry tyres, of course they’re going to lose a roughly equal amount of time, they were roughly equal drivers with the same car and the same faulty tyres..

          2. @keeleyobsessed

            Out of all the mistakes in that comment, you pick up on the one obvious spelling error.


        1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
          1st October 2012, 11:26

          I think in order for your comment to make any sense, Keith would have to rename this website

          1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
            1st October 2012, 11:43

            I’ll thank you not to give out my e-mail address.

  6. So there still was an ugly nose in that car… even if it was last year’s one.

    1. haha I always wondered how he fit in a helmet xD

      1. I would really like to know the lap times he did

  7. so I guess Hamiltons deal concludes the inclination of Mercedes board to quit F1 as a constructor for the next 3 years o_O

    1. And then what? Lewis back to McLaren? I thought they’re committed at least ’til 2020.

    2. They’ve signed (or at least signed in principle) the CA. Lauda’s ‘job’ was to convince the board of directors to stay. I’m guessing it all hinged on acquiring Hamilton’s services.

  8. I guess its exactly this perception described by Stewart

    “I can’t imagine how he could be more spoiled than being with them.

    “He is a very lucky boy because he has made huge amounts of money and that is largely down to McLaren, not Lewis himself, because they gave him his break and made him the brilliant driver he is.”

    that makes Hamilton want to “leave home” and build his own racing legacy.
    Will he manage? Who knows, but it will be interesting to see.
    Will he grow as a person and driver? Certainly.

    Oh, and having more freedom to do what he wants and get personal sponsors etc. will fit very well with that.

    1. @bascb – I’d say it’s a bit of a double-edged sword, because Mercedes don’t have the same driver endorsement policies as McLaren does. McLaren forbid their drivers from doing personal endorsements; they may only do endorsements for the team’s sponsors. This takes a lot of pressure off the drivers, because it’s all arranged for them; they really just have to show up at the sponsor event. But while Hamilton now has the freedom to chase whatever endorsements he wants, he no longer has the luxury of pre-arranged sponsor commitments. Everything he does has to be done on his own time – and he’s got a history of getting distracted by his off-track adventures. If nothing else, 2013 is really going to be an exercise in maturity for Hamilton.

      1. Instead of McLaren, his management agency now handles those affairs.

    2. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      1st October 2012, 14:54

      I wonder if it could see him move away from f1 and get into music or movies though. Unless it goes very well next year i think he will quickly become distracted and we know what lewis’ favourite distractions are. He has his own recording studio and started work on an album for his personal listening last year i think it was. It would be sad to see him leave f1 early.

      1. Why this looks wrong, from any angle?

      2. Im sure we will soon start seeing the following:
        Lewis presenting an award at an MTV awards somewhere
        Lewis getting his own brand i.e. like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, David Beckham, Manny Pacqiuao
        Lewis appearing in a music video
        Lewis making more guest appearance on American talk shows
        Lewis getting a Gillette Commercial
        Lewis becomes an underwear model

        Lewis will essentially become the highest paid (Salary + Endorsements) F1 driver of all time perhaps? If Im not mistaken his current salary puts him on par with Fernando Alonso, his endorsement contracts will put in a different league?..he could potentially eclipse Tiger Woods.

        I cant confirm the source now, but I remember in the early 2000s, when Schumacher was decimating the grid, there was a year where he earned in excess of 100 million…I believe Lewis can eclipse that..

        1. All very possible, and why not. He’s got what it takes for all those areas.

  9. I wholeheartedly disagree with Sir Jackie. Lewis doesn’t owe McLaren anything. McLaren didn’t “give” Lewis anything. As a child Hamilton had the cojones to walk up to Ron Dennis & express his desire to race for him. He backed up his desire to race with his ability to win. Sponsorship from McLaren was dependent on performance, & he delivered on his end of the bargain. McLaren love to brag about their policy to hire the best available drivers, & the fact that they hired Lewis to partner double world champ Alonso means they had confidence in his ability to be competitive. The fact that he beat Alonso was proof enough that they were correct in their initial assessment of Lewis, & the fact that they offered him a multi-million dollar, multi year contract wasn’t because they had warm, fuzzy feelings for this little lad they’d nurtured. It’s because motor racing teams are in the business of winning races & they knew the little lad could drive the hell out of a race car. That he’s won them multiple races & a driver’s championship for himself, as well as being McLaren’s top points scorer for all but one of his 6 years with them (assuming he stays ahead this season), I’d say job done. He was hired to drive a race car, & he drove that race car very well. McLaren doesn’t own Lewis Hamilton. At what point will this “debt” to McLaren be paid? Who decides the terms? It sickens me that some people seem to share the view that Lewis has just been coasting along on the coattails of team McLaren & should stick with them forever, because apparently they did him a great service by paying him to win in their awesome cars & smile for cameras every other week, & no matter how much he wins & smiles, he’ll never sufficiently repay them for it.

    1. Well said Aldoid, that Jackie sometimes sounds like a retard.

    2. It’s a symptom of the way Formula 1 has tried to deal with Hamilton’s talent that he’s treated in such an infantile way, no other driver receives either as much attention or as much questioning, especially over something that’s entirely commonplace, changing your employers.

      I still think Hamilton has a chance of winning the drivers championship this season, taking McLaren at their word that they will continue to support his bid fully. If so it will be an interesting point to leave, as a double champion with McLaren (and matching Vettel and Alonso, his main rivals as now). But if he does win, McLaren will certainly have even less to complain about.

      And they wouldn’t have lost him had they not initially offered him a pay drop. Simple fact. Any complaints about how things turned out: send them to Dennis, I’m fairly sure that’s where the buck stops.

      1. @aldoid…for the most part I get the sentiment of what you are saying about LH and Mac, but I don’t know if I would go so far as to say Mac didn’t ‘give’ LH anything. I think they gave him an upbringing in the sport and they gave him a job and some of that WAS because they had a warm fuzzy feeling about him. And that’s ok. He also delivered for them…but not always. Last year he admitted that off-track distractions hurt him on some race days, and I thought that must have been a terrible thing for the team and it’s sponsors to hear. All that time and money spent and he squandered it by not being 100% focused. But I think you are right that the line has to be drawn somewhere and I think he doesn’t owe them anything and they don’t owe him anything and I think it is good for LH and good for the sport that he leave the nest and try something new and different. A new challenge and let’s see where he takes it.

        @David BR2…I would like to think it comes down to way more than just money…ie. I would be very surprised if that initial pay drop offer was all LH used to make his decision. And I think there should be no reason to doubt that Mac and LH are as determined as ever to win the WDC this year. Neither Mac nor LH are going to want to harm themselves and their sponsors and the integrity of F1 by throwing in the towel due to this driver change for 2013.

  10. Prost was supposed not to drive an F1 car ever again after Senna’s death. He said he won’t do that as a respect for his ex-teammate… :/

    1. Case can be made though that today’s car are in themselves testaments to Senna’s death’s impact on safety and are a far cry from the F1 cars Prost was racing in. No pilot died racing a F1 car since Senna did and I’d actually go to say that driving one today is indeed an acknowledgement of respect for his former team mate’s death. (far fetched I know, but really, it’s been nearly 20 years now !)

    2. Prost was supposed not to drive an F1 car ever again after Senna’s death.

      Prost said he woudn’t ‘Race’ an F1 car again after Senna’s death, Never said he woudn’t drive one & in fact this isn’t the 1st time he’s driven an F1 car since Senna’s death, He did some testing for McLaren in 1996.

      1. And it looks like he might be doing even more testing in the near future, if true that would be pretty awesome.

        After all Prost was well involved both with Renaults first Turbo and with the turbo engines at McLaren. This also gives a nice que to what Schumacher could do for Mercedes – romp up the testing km in a 2014 testbed car (I would love to see him head a Le Mans effort too, he never finished his sportscar efforts with a real success)

      2. Prost was discussing his comeback with Ferrari one year after Senna’s death

        1. I wonder what would happen if the pit Prost against..say Seb in a simulator?…would Prost be able to match Seb? It would be very interesting…I would really love to see the drivers of yesteryear taking on today’s guys in a controlled environment.

  11. Merc berk

    I think that tells us all we need to know about the Daily Star.

    1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
      1st October 2012, 13:01

      Indeed…I would advise everyone to assume that the entire article is a lie and full of inaccurate quotes until proven otherwise.

      1. @tmcs88 In reply to my comment above, I did consider that. It still wound me up though!

        @estesark Indeed. Awful, awful.

    2. Not to mention at the bottom it has a related link reading ‘LEWIS HAMILTON AND JASON BUTTON PULL ITALIAN JOB’.
      Jason, eh? Good tabloid skills there

  12. Congratulations on the COTD @bosyber. Its something easily overlooked in all the fights between those that say its a good step forward and the people afraid F1 will get dumbed down from “relevance” and cost saving that the real money has already been spent in the last 2 years.

    1. Heh, I only now see it actually @bascb, so thanks! Jay, COTD!! (the tweets above it with pics make is slightly less noticable :)

      Of course, F1 isn’t a stranger to making decisions that don’t match with the reasons given for them, so Bernie could well prove to be right (that money spent isn’t HIS money so why care …).

  13. “and there is a degree of loyalty which you should always have.”

    Says the man who has been ‘ambassador’ for more teams in the past few years than I’ve had hot dinners.

    1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      1st October 2012, 14:58

      let me get you’re a salad man?

      1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
        1st October 2012, 14:58

        guess* :P

  14. I think its all a bit silly. Anyone would think its a Taboo to switch teams. I’m pleased for the lad actually and its not before time. He was the kid that never left home and living by the house rules was grinding him down. Now he’s striking out on his own and I think it will be invigorating for him.

    Also, whilst its not guaranteed, it would not surprise me in the slightest if Ross Brawn, Aldo Costa, Geoff Willis, Bob Bell and chums were preparing to attack 2013 by creating and absolute belter of car.

    You never see them track side which means one thing. They’re all at the design office 7 days a week getting ready for next year.

  15. An interview or article by Prost on the difference between the modern cars and the cars from a 20 years back from a driver’s perspective would be a great read!

    1. +1

      I’d love to know how quick he was too! I know he wasn’t screwing the nuts off the thing but It’d still be interesting to see if he can still summon his racing mojo and get some competitive times on the board at 57.

  16. Greece unblocks 30M for F1 curcuit

    WOW. Cant be an April fools joke. Its October. I mean dont get me wrong, i love F1 but where are their priorities?

    1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
      1st October 2012, 16:49

      That’s Capitalism for ya!

  17. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
    1st October 2012, 16:46

    More former F1 WDC should become test drivers and help current teams to improve and develop their cars. Surely a former WDC (like Villeneuve or Hakkinen) would extract more info from the car and have a better understanding of how to perfect and resolve any flaws they come across?

    Or is it the case that F1 evolves and progresses at such a relentless rate, that the experience that these former greats have is quickly rendered obsolete within a few years of their departure. Either way, I would love to see these guys in modern machines thrashing the hell out of them, and if Schumi can’t get a seat for next year, maybe this could be an option for him.

    1. Putting Villeneuve next to Hakkinen is just wrong imho….

      1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
        2nd October 2012, 15:24

        I quickly realised my mistake just after hitting the “Post Comment” button, but opted not to amend it. You are right though, I wrongly attributed the words “former great” to Villeneuve.

        1. When would these former WDC’s get a chance to test the cars? There’s barely enough testing now for the existing drivers, let alone former ones or new up and comers. Sure their knowledge is vast, but I think even great proven WDC level drivers like MH and JV would need time since even drivers who are out of F1 for just a few years need time to catch up to the evolutions that have gone on. And MS is actually in today’s F1 car and what has he done in 3 years to advance their package? They’re still a distant 5th in the WCC.

          1. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
            2nd October 2012, 18:23

            You’ve identified the issue, there isn’t enough testing. The big problem I have with Formula 1 is the out-of-reach elitist culture that pervades the sport, and the absence of more test sessions only compounds the situation. Increased testing would result in opportunities for young drivers, and you could also include former WDC’s as a crowd pleaser and to add value to the event (or to help attract an audience). You could charge fans a small fee and in return they could witness their favourite WDC’s in modern kit, pulling some serious G-force and as a bonus you could even have autograph, book signing and photo sessions. This would improve the image of the sport whilst simultaneously giving the next generation of driver a well deserved chance to showcase their talent, or lack thereof.

            Although, I do concede that the knowledge and experience former WDC’s have probably wouldn’t be applicable or beneficial to a modern F1 team. I guess I’m approaching the issue through a door marked selfish, as (and I’m sure I’m not the only one) I would love to have the opportunity to see Hakkinen in a MP4-27 Vs Mansell in a Ferrari F2012.

  18. So Nikki Lauda says they’ve got the best driver in F1, really is this the same man who last year was saying that Lewis was a danger on the race track. How people change their minds when it suits them

    1. Probably Lauda saw it back later and realised that it wasn’t Hamilton’s fault that Button put him in the wall.

  19. Call me paranoid, but it was rather conspiracy-like for Bernie to come out with that quote on the same day as Lewis’ signing with Merc, I am going as far as to day that Bernie and the FiA deliberatley wait for Lewis’ decision to see if they can disadvantage him in any way shape or form.

    We know obviously that Mercedes and Ferrari design their own engines so that has given them much of a disadvantage compared to the rest of the field, and we know how much that the FiA and Bernie favour Ferrari so to do this once the engines have already been designed and made is somewhat obvious.

    1. I also assumed that the Merc connection would be a benefit, but these days all engines are the same. There are no “works engines” and “customer engines”, they are all one spec. At least from what I understood, Mercedes, McLaren and Force India all get the exact same spec Merc engine. Same for Ferrari and Renault.

      Obviously the Mercedes engine contract with McLaren runs out after 2014

  20. Lewis Hamilton’s ego is too big to fit on a single McLaren. He always needed two cars just for him, Alonso realized it quickly and left, I’m happy for Button, that’s the best could happen for him, he will finally be part of team instead of Lewis’ circus.

  21. Didn’t read the comments to see if this was pointed out already or not but it was only 2 weeks ago when Bernie said he loved the sound of the Ferrari V6.

    1. Wondered about same thing, might have been a month ago though.

  22. It`s time for Hamilton to move on and take on a challenge. McLaren was always a safe bet as it is one of if not the most consistent team for the last 30 years. They have not won too many championships the last decade, but then again what team except Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull has. These three teams have won 8 of the last 10 seasons. But McLaren has always been in contention except for a couple of bad seasons.

    Hamilton is leaving a top team to join a team aspiring to be a top team. If he and Mercedes can pull it off credit should be given to both parties.

    But if they don`t succeed I suspect Hamilton is in for a rough ride, both with his new team and his ego. McLaren has taken very good care of Hamilton and protected him from a lot of adversity. Probably because he`s been with them for so long and he really was their favourite son of whom much was ecpected. He grew up in that organisation and everyone wished the best for Hamilton.
    When Hamilton arrives at Mercedes now it`s in a totally different context. He`s been drafted in as a proven driver of whom much is expected from the get-go. He will not be their favourite son, he`s a hired driver expected to bring World Championships to Mercedes. He`ll have to bring with him a Schumacher-esque work ethic to boot. If he starts bad-mouthing his team and then go on holiday with his girlfriend I suspect the boffins at Mercedes will have a word or two for him.

    For years now I`ve been told that Hamilton is one of the greatest drivers that ever lived. In my opinion the jury`s still out on that one. Taking into consideration the opportunities he`s been given I think he should have been a three time Champion now if he really was one of the greatest drivers that ever lived. He should have won i 2007, he should have won in 2008 (easy) and he should have won in 2010 when he pretty much crashed himself out of contention while having a pretty decent car at his disposal. I think for instant Vettel, Perez, diResta, Hulkenberg and Rosberg would have won at least one world title if they had been driving for McLaren since 2007.

    To be honest I think Hamilton is very talented, and he could be the best of his generation if he`s able to get it right. I do doubt his work ethic and attention to detail can rival Michael Schumacher, and he really has to show those qualities if Mercedes is struggling in 2013. Otherwise he will not be able to build the team around him that he needs to win WC`s.
    Futhermore I always doubted Hamiltons mental strenght when the pressure is on. He cracked in 2007, he almost cracked in 2008 (was saved by the bell) and came unhinged when he was in with a shot in 2010. Every time Hamilton is in with a chance of winning the Championship either something strange happens or he seems to shut down and barge into somebody. I don`t know why this happens but it seems like his will to win relegates common sense to the back seat from time to time.
    For the last couple of years I think his ego has played a part in this as well. Hamilton`s ego could never really cope with Vettel coming along in that Red Bull. Here`s a younger driver that comes along and wins more races and championships than Hamilton. For a man used to being told by everybody around him that he`s the greatest and most promising ever that must be hard, and it might trigger some desperation on his part.

    I think Hamiltons move to Mercedes might come from some desparation on his part. He wants to be one of the greatest drivers of all time, and to be able to be seen as such he really needs to win several championships soon. But he also needs to beat Vettel, if Vettel is a three time World Champion at this year it will be very difficult for Hamilton to be considered as “the greatest of his generation”. And if Alonso wins his third Championship this year, Hamilton will struggle to match him as well. That`s not what either Hamilton or his fans were expecting back in 2007, of course he feels the pressure..

  23. I see no reason why McLaren would not support Hamilton in his bid to be champion this year, although that bid’s chances of success are slim. The irony here is that, if rumours are to be believed, if McLaren had supported Hamilton more often recently maybe he would not be leaving for pastures new. The bottom line is that only a select few know the real reasons for what has happened, and I doubt that includes Jackie Stewart.

    1. “if rumours are to be believed, if McLaren had supported Hamilton more often recently maybe he would not be leaving for pastures new”

      Can’t help once again pointing out what came out last year…LH admitted that he let off-track distractions hurt his racing on Sundays. I have said it several times since that admission by LH, and will repeat my opinion again…that must have been terrible for the team and it’s sponsors to hear…all that time and money and resources and he was squandering it for reasons that should not have been brought to the race weekend by LH. ie. in terms of your comment I can only think there are two sides to every street and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mac was questioning LH’s dedication to the team going back to last year. In other words, I’m not convinced there has ever been a time when Mac wasn’t supporting LH. It has been up to LH all this time as to what to do with this support.

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