Hamilton: Leaving McLaren “my hardest decision”

F1 Fanatic round-up

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Interlagos, 2012In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton says deciding to leave McLaren is the hardest decision he’s ever made.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Hamilton: It’s the hardest decision I’ve made, but I’m leaving McLaren to grow up (Daily Mail)

“When I arrived in Formula 1 in 2007, I now realise I never really grasped what I was taking on. Ron [Dennis] had told me: “Don’t be surprised if you’re 0.5sec slower than Fernando [Alonso]“, and I just smiled because I knew it wouldn’t be the case. But, even so, that year was very hard, for many reasons.”

The complications of the Formula 1 calendar (Autosport, subscription required)

“TV broadcasters across the world hold 20-race contracts with Formula One Management, while teams are anxious for their slices of the increased revenues promised them by Ecclestone in terms of newly-struck commercial agreements ?ǣ precursors to the yet-to-be-signed 2013-20 Concorde Agreement, the replacement for the recently-expired covenant which binds governing body, CRH, and teams ?ǣ and thus Ecclestone needs to deliver on both content and bottom line.”

“Racing isn?t just a sport, it?s a show.” (Red Bull)

Helmet designer Jens Munser: “Singapore took a long time. We had to work out what LEDs to use, what battery to use. I was worried it might interfere with the radio. I was hoping the battery would last, it?s a long race, nearly two hours. It was amazing when he won the race, he was greeting the fans and the helmet was still flashing. It was a big relief, I was really happy!”

For more on this article by @TommyB89 see this thread in the forum:

Red Bull offers own track for Austrian GP return in 2013 (BBC)

“Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko told an Austrian newspaper: ‘We have made the FIA aware that the Red Bull Ring has a fully updated Formula 1 licence.'”

Boom and bust for F1 weekend (Kxan via Youtube)


Comment of the day

Thanks to everyone who joined in yesterday’s Caption Competition. Do keep your suggestions coming in – in the meantime here’s the pick of the best so far.

I thought Max Jacobson, Electrolite, Scalextric, S.J.M, Mallesh Magdum and Melkurion’s suggestions were among the funniest. But my favourite was this one from FormulaLes:

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Buddh International Circuit, 2012

“I guess I should have chased Dietrich Mateschitz for his autograph when I was ten.”

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to French Steve!

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

Five years ago today Fernando Alonso’s return to Renault was confirmed. He was joined by newcomer Nelson Piquet Jnr:

Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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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  • 77 comments on “Hamilton: Leaving McLaren “my hardest decision””

    1. Interesting reading that article from 4 years ago and seeing people that thought Piquet Jr. could match Alonso. Piquet actually ran Alonso’s 2007 teammate close for the 2006 GP2 title. Now NPJ is seen as a pitiful joke of a driver, which goes to show how much of a different entity F1 is compared to even the best of junior series.

      1. Piquet is considered a joke because of his attitude. We’ve seen drivers who arrive in the sport and develop a reputation as being a bit of a crasher, only to put their heads down and work hard, and be duly rewarded for their efforts. Felipe Massa springs to mind – when he first joined Sauber, he was all over the place. But with a little bit of help, he landed a seat at Ferrari and was a World Championship contender in 2008.

        Piquet, on the other hand, refused to acknowledge that there was a problem with his driving, and blamed anyone and everything that moved. There were flashes of potential – like that podium in Germany – but his selfish reasons for blowing the whistle on the Singapore crash scandal was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    2. I really hope Mercedes can provide Lewis with a car that is at least capable of regular podium opportunities. I was shocked to realise that Lewis has not finished higher than 4th in a drivers championship since his 2008 title year! It’s a shame for him, especially this year, that things couldn’t have been better. But moving on is a good idea; they say to be a great champion you have to win with more than one team, well now’s his chance. Let’s see what happens! Roll on 2013!

      1. Please check the reasons why Hamilton didn’t make it to the Podium when he’s P1 in the qualifying before you say it’s a shame for him.

        1. No idea what you are on about BJ! Getting crashed off from the lead in Brazil and mechanical failures from the lead in Singapore and abu Dhabi… those the reasons you wanted me to provide??

    3. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      10th December 2012, 0:56

      Coca-cola and now Honeywell?

      Whoever is working the sponsorships for Lotus needs a serious raise.

      1. Let’s hope their strategy with regards to distribution of development time through out the season results in at least one car on a front row in Australia!

      2. Whoever is working the sponsorships for Lotus needs a serious raise.
        One would hope so. They’ve obviously lost their backing from Lotus Cars – they “parted ways” with the brand about six months ago – so they need to make up their 2013 budget somehow.

        It doesn’t bode well for the team if they’re only just securing title sponsorship now. They’re said to be getting $30 million from Coca-Cola, and that’s only a fraction of their budget. If they’re getting title sponsorship from Honeywell, they’re obviously getting more – in mid-Decemeber. Their entire development strategy will be based on how much money they have; they can’t start it without knowing what they can spend. Red Bull have almost finished planning their development for their 2013 car, but if Lotus are still working on a title sponsorship deal with Honeywell, then they haven’t started planning their development, and only have about two months until the first test.

        1. Well, it’s still better late than never…

        2. FlyingLobster27
          10th December 2012, 8:14

          To become known as Honeywell F1 Team in 2014? :D

          1. exactly! :p

        3. Generally sponsorship are secured months prior to announcements. It takes around 2 months for the executives all of involved parties to sign off on press releases (speaking from experience). If they want anything changed it can take even longer.

          Letting the public know of things like this is not really a high priority for them at this stage.

      3. Given Lotus’ recently improved consistent, strong performances, it should be natural that they’d be able to start attracting big sponsors now.

        As for development, I don’t see how Lotus should have a major problem. They managed to improve substantially, even without strong financial strength for 2012.

        1. Well, they still failed tremendously in season developing battle. Since Spa, due to the failure of highly anticipated passive DRS, they had gone through a big slump in form.

      4. @braketurnaccelerate

        Whoever is working the sponsorships for Lotus needs a serious raise.

        Perhaps Williams should poach him:


        1. Perhaps Williams already lost him to Lotus:


          1. Ha! Well spotted :-)

      5. I totally agree, Lotus was first ever Formula1 based commercial I have ever seen here in the States. Sure, it was only during USAGP, quickly disappeared, was for mens beauty products and was pretty cheesy, but there was NO other F1 based advertising that I saw, and the Lotus adverts came almost every commercial segement. Somebody at Lotus’ commercial department is really kicking butt.

    4. How genuine could it be? Is it really that difficult when Mercedes is spitting up so much cash? And as everyone has already said, Lewis has his mind on the cash.

      1. And as everyone has already said, Lewis has his mind on the cash.

        Just because people are saying it, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically true.

        1. But even Martin Whitmarsh, a man who knows Lewis probably like no other person in McLaren, has said so.

          1. Whitmarsh isn’t Hamilton. Did it occur to you that maybe he is claiming Hamilton left for the money so that he doesn’t have to admit to the greater evil, that McLaren failed to deliver him a championship with a car that should have won this year?

            Besides, Hamilton himself has said he needed a change of scenery, and that he liked the idea of turning Mercedes around and making them competitive because it was a bigger challenge than simply sitting in a competitive car from the start of the season.

            1. I find it hard to accept that Hamilton went for the challenge of turning around Mercedes and make them competitive, because he has earlier stated that his only goal is to win as many Championships as possible. Well, he’s not gonna do that if he spends another one or maybe two seasons turning around Mercedes, and Vettel & possibly Alonso cruise around in the Red Bull or Ferrari and add to their titles. He started mentioning the lure of a challenge only after rumors about talks with Merc…

              Maybe it was a combination of the extra cash and the additional freedom (personal sponsor, keeping trophies, etc) as well as more confidence in Brawn as a strategist and leader.

        2. ‎@Crucial_Xtreme
          #F1 Lewis Hamilton tells F1 Racing Magazine that McLaren offered him £13.5m per year & Mercedes offered almost £20m per year

          1. Wishing Lewis well, he will be WC again.

      2. It’s not cash, it’s whole experience package. He is definitely going to satisfy his urge to know how it is in a different team, and you never know what will come out of it. Regardless of outcome, it will make him a stronger person.

      3. And as everyone has already said, Lewis has his mind on the cash.

        “Everyone”? Haters aren’t “everyone”. I’m quite surprised that after all the reports about McLaren matching Mercedes’ offer, some of them still say it was about the money…

        1. Exactly @maroonjack it goes to show that people will always believe whatever they want to believe even when faced with hard facts. Hamilton has negotiated an attractive financial package (which McLaren could match), great personal terms and the chance to tap into Brawn, Costa and Bell’s experience and build a championship winning team. That’s why he’s gone and his detractors have to understand that.

          1. Exactly @geemac And it is also as LH has said. He needs to leave the nest to grow up away from ‘home’ and take on this new challenge. I’m convinced that even if Mac had offered him MORE money than Merc, it wouldn’t have mattered. It is about much more than that. And in terms of money, LH knows that with many F1 seasons ahead of him, and very possibly another team or two in his future post-Merc, he’s going to make millions upon millions anyway. Many drivers who are already multi-millionaires would drive for free if they were in a WDC capable car. It was simply time for him to leave the nest and take on a new challenge. I’m sure some will say, assuming that he will be hard pressed to fight for podiums next year, that he made a mistake…many are already saying it, but it is not a mistake. It was necessary. And it is going to be a thrill to watch. He has needed and wanted a new challenge, and he will have it…and we the fans will have something exciting to watch too. His journey.

            1. When I say ‘we the fans’, I mean the fans of F1…I am not necessarily an LH fan myself…I’m indifferent. But that will make it no less fun for me to see how he does with his new challenge. And to see how Mac does without him too. And to see how NR does with LH as his teammate.

    5. Don’t count Mercedes out based off the WO3. The Renault was woeful near the end of the 2011 season, yet look at how the team of Enstone brought it back together in 2012.

      All Mercedes need for next season is a bullet-proof car about as fast as the Lotus. Lewis will do the rest.

      1. davidnotcoulthard
        10th December 2012, 7:12

        That’s easy on the tyres. I think Lewis is better at speeding up a too-conservative car than trying to extend the life of a fast-but-fragile car.

      2. @kingshark

        You say that like it’s such a simple thing to churn out that kind of a car…

        1. For a team like mercedes there’s no reason why they can’t. We have seen their potential several times this year. And whilst Michael suffered from unreliability, Nico had a fairly consistent run.

          1. I think ‘all Mercedes needs’ is the WCC winning car for LH or NR to be WDC. There is no ‘LH will do the rest.’ Statistically every WDC needed the WCC winning car or at least in the odd season a very very close 2nd place car in the WCC. If the car is only as fast relatively as the Lotus was this year, then LH is barely going to fight for wins. Which is what most people expect in his first year at Merc coming off a season where they were a distant 5th in the WCC. If LH walks into a car that is much better than this years was, then it will have been great good fortune on his part and nothing to do with his input.
            And I just can’t see Merc leapfrogging the likes of Adrian Newey’s Red Bulls and the Ferraris and the Macs. Not next year. Maybe 2014 will be different as the field stands a chance of being shaken up a little, and Brawn might end up right in saying that where a driver wants to be in 2014 is with a manufacturer based team.

    6. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      10th December 2012, 3:05

      I don’t see why the fia would deny turkey a race because of a lack of funding and then give a race to the a1 ring when they have an equal lack of funding and several infrastructure problems. If called upon turkey could host a gp tomorrow austria couldn’t.

      1. Red Bull disagree with you. And since they own the circuit and have been funding development in the area, I’d say they have a pretty good idea of what they are talking about.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys
          And it might be in their best interest to promote their own track, by “generating” non-story articles.

          1. That makes no sense. They don’t need to promote the idea of a race when in the same week they are officially recognised as World Champions at the FIA prize-giving gala.

            1. davidnotcoulthard
              10th December 2012, 7:15

              Promoting the drink doesn’t necessarily mean promoting the track, so I’ve got to agree with @bag0

            2. Why would they need to promote the circuit?

            3. Owning a track on which an F1 event is held will mean LOTS and LOTS of signage, and further association of their “fizzy drink” product with the world of extreme sports.

              I always drink redbull because I know it will make me better at everything I do just as it does for F1 drivers sky divers, and whitewater kayakers. /sarcasm…

            4. @javlinsharp

              Owning a track on which an F1 event is held will mean LOTS and LOTS of signage

              They’ll have to pay FOM for it though. They might be able to negotiate a cut in the race hosting fee but CVC will have to get their money from somewhere.

              And you’ve have to say, why buy track signage if the cameras are going to be focussed on their often-race-leading cars so much anyway? That might explain why you rarely see Red Bull signage at tracks.

      2. they have an equal lack of funding

        That remains to be seen. Perhaps Dietrich Mateschitz will pony up the dough the Turkish government says it won’t.

        1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
          10th December 2012, 18:14

          Very true when is the deadline though? I guess it’s already been altered to try and get a 20th race and the teams will need to sign off on their travel plans soon.

    7. For the first time, I am being mentioned in the round-up :)

      1. @malleshmagdum Well that’s definitely overdue :-)

      2. congratulations! well done

    8. Joey Zyla (@)
      10th December 2012, 4:31

      I don’t think we’d see a race at the R**-B***-Ring without an uproar. That just wouldn’t be right. That same company also owns a pair of F1 teams.

      1. @joey-zyla

        That just wouldn’t be right. That same company also owns a pair of F1 teams.


        The track is virtually unchanged from the one F1 last raced on two years before Red Bull entered the sport.

        If Red Bull had built a state-of-the-art Grand Prix facility hidden in a secret bunker which they’d been testing on since 2005 and no one else had seen, you might have a point. But I don’t see how Red Bull owning this circuit makes the slightest bit of difference.

        1. If Red Bull had built a state-of-the-art Grand Prix facility hidden in a secret bunker which they’d been testing on since 2005 and no one else had seen, you might have a point.

          – LOL @keithcollantine, if that would be the case, I would say light it up, and let the teams race there with Mateschitz paying for the fun!

          I am not sure I like the idea of racing there, but on the other hand if there’s someone arranging it, I will certainly have to look at going there, as it’s the closest location to where I live!

      2. I don’t think we’d see a race at the R**-B***-Ring without an uproar. That just wouldn’t be right. That same company also owns a pair of F1 teams

        Yeah, that would be like….testing at a circuit owned by Ferrari. Oh, hang on….

        1. While I don’t agree with the initial posting, I think that is different. The REDBULL-Ring with lots of RedBull signs and writings and color coordination already in place that would promote the name RedBull even if they don’t show up with any of their teams in an event potentially seen by 600 million people is not the same as testing seen by a couple thousand fans in Mugello.
          So if RedBull wants to hod a race there they will indeed have to transfer a load of cash to Bernie and I wouldn’t even mind that too much because I like the track there. On the other hand I kind of dislike the stranglehold RedBull has on almost every sport I am interested in (but thats my personal problem not theirs).

          1. The REDBULL-Ring with lots of RedBull signs and writings and color coordination already in place that would promote the name RedBull…is not the same as testing een by a couple thousand fans in Mugello

            I’m not really sure that this is a problem, even assuming that Allsport Management SA didn’t exercise its usual control over trackside advertising at all F1 races (Monaco excepted). Lots of Red Bull signs are hardly going to make their cars go faster, or their opponents go slower. And if Red Bull gets some advertising from the track they own, and some promotion of their brand, who cares?

            If you prefer examples involving races rather than just testing, what about McLaren (half owned by the Bahrain government) racing at the Bahrain International Circuit (also owned by the Bahrain government)? Why isn’t that also terrible?

            To me, this is just another example of the reflexive criticism of anything associated with Red Bull, because, well it’s just bad if Red Bull do it, never mind the logic or double standards.

            1. I don’t think the cars go faster or have a greater testing effect, I just think the advertising value should be monetarily compensated (and it shouldn’t be the taxpayer doing it for them). The advertising effect of the Bahrain GP for McLaren is unclear to me, the effect of RedBull in my face whenever I look at anything on TV on the other hand is quite clear (even though it seems to me that audiences meanwhile should be properly saturated with that brand, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it, I studied finance and only did the minimum possible in marketing).

        2. …or racing at Fuji or Suzuka.

          Not sure how big their new deal with Lotus is (maybe not the biggest judging by the Honeywell rumours) but it’ll be interesting to see how much promotion Burn are allowed to do at the Red Bull Ring – or any of those f1-sponsoring energy drinks I’ve never heard of. Still waiting to see Irn-Bru on Paul di Resta’s car…

          1. I have watched a few races at the redbullring and I have to say I haven’t really noticed the redbull logo’s I think there maybe 1 overhead banner on the main straight. Obviously they may add more if they are allowed to assuming they do go ahead with a grand prix.

    9. What that news report fails to report is the 3000% increase in ice cream sales thanks to Kimi, and to a lesser extent, Kimi fans.

    10. Honeywell Lotus F1, maybe? Just like Infiniti Red Bull Racing?

    11. Boom and Bust vid is brilliant. I’m really sorry, Gina McClelland of Guero’s Taco Bar, but I think you lost money because your place looks like a dive. I feel bad, but, you know, someone needs to break it to you.

      1. I’m really sorry, Gina McClelland of Guero’s Taco Bar, but I think you lost money because your place looks like a dive.

        And from the sounds of things, the business was one of several in a very localised area that suffered a disappointing intake. This is South Congress Avenue, where Guero’s Taco Bar is located. I don’t know where is is exactly on the street, but the street itself is actually quite removed from the commercial areas of the city (even moreso as you get further south), primarily because it is separated from the Downtown area by the river. The exterior shots in the news report show that it’s in what looks like quite a residential area, too. So Guero’s Taco Bar was probably close enough to the city that they were expecting an upswing in business, but far enough away from it that visitors avoided it.

        But you’re also right in that it looks like a dive. I do love Mexican food, but I’d avoid Guero’s Taco Bar.

      2. I think you lost money because your place looks like a dive

        @splittimes As someone who has been to Austin, can I tell you that it has a fantastic food scene, much of it served out of food trucks and dodgy looking diners. We didn’t get to try Guero’s, but had some great mexican, and I can assure you that the appearance of a place is no guide at all!

        I don’t know where is is exactly on the street, but the street itself is actually quite removed from the commercial areas of the city

        @prisoner-monkeys that part of SoCo is a real food and retail hub. There are plenty of great food outlets in the area, including a food truck park just across and down from Guero’s. I recommend the cupcakes from Hey Cupcake, they are seriously good :-)

        1. I can assure you that the appearance of a place is no guide at all!

          Maybe not, but the number of people in it generally is a guide. The best restaurants tend to be packed; the lesser ones have few patrons. The talk of the city being busy probably made most regular customers avoid the place, and the visitors saw an empty(-ish) restaurant and decided to go somewhere else.

          Nevertheless, this seems to have been a relatively-isolated incident. From the sounds of things, only a handful of venues suffered from less-than-expected turnouts. Perhaps next time, Guero’s should not assume that every business in town is going to receive a capacity crowd on any given night.

        2. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
          10th December 2012, 18:25

          “and I can assure you that the appearance of a place is no guide at all!”

          The food standards agency would disagree.

    12. @keithcollantine It’s actually five years since Alonso was confirmed back at Renault – we’re nearly into 2013…

      1. @alexf1man Changed, thanks.

        1. A bit late, but I came up with another caption: “The one time the McLaren is fast and reliable in all conditions is the one time I’m not there”

    13. I like on that American broadcast they use a 1998 McLaren sponsored by Honda. Then later use a car covered in Toyota logos.

      1. @tommyb89 Nice article on the helmet design stuff. I like his Little Mermaid inspired idea!

    14. Gav (@foxtrotoscar21)
      10th December 2012, 12:18

      Anyone else getting bored of Hamiltons constant “Leaving McLaren was the hardest thing…” “I’m leaving the team I grew up with…” etc? Yes we get it, and yes we ALL make big decisions in our life. How about concentrating on your future at Mercedes instead of dwelling on what is now your past. Yawn. (Sorry – had to get it off my chest!!)

      1. @foxtrotoscar21 I thought the quoted part about Dennis telling him in 2007 to expect Alonso would be faster was more interesting.

        1. Gav (@foxtrotoscar21)
          10th December 2012, 12:28

          Oh indeed that was! Sorry it wasn’t a dig at the number of articles about it – I would just prefer Hamilton to maybe put out some bites about his future rather than his past. Move on ‘n all… :)

      2. @foxtrotoscar21 Yeah I’m getting bored of them, but there’s no use complaining. Realistically, every interview he has until, and probably during next season will contain questions about his move. Build a bridge my friend, it’s not going to end any time soon. He’s just answering questions

      3. Perhaps the drivers should keep quiet on their last day at their previous team? Personally I’d rather they talk.

        1. Yeah I don’t think it should be a surprise that LH would ‘still be talking about leaving Mac’ since he only just officially left their HQ for the last time after a heartfelt so long. I’m sure now that he is no longer associated with the team his next quotes will be about his future at Merc.

          @foxtrotoscar21 perhaps your complaint should go toward interviewers, not LH. They would be the ones asking him more about leaving Mac, than going to Merc. But as I say, I’m sure more questions directed toward LH will now be about going to Merc now that he has said his final formal goodbyes to Mac.

    15. I have just realized that Hamilton going to Mercedes means two drivers with yellow helmets. Although slightly different shades. And will Lewis continue his sponsorship with Reebok or is that staying at McLaren as it would be a clash of Mercedes Puma vs Lewis Reebok. Interesting to see if Lewis has bright coloured gloves too. Can’t wait to see new helmet design’s, especially checos.

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