Lewis Hamilton in publicity storm over ‘McLaren quit’ remarks

Lewis Hamilton has suggested he might leave McLaren

Lewis Hamilton has suggested he might leave McLaren

Several British newspapers are running stories this morning claiming Lewis Hamilton has said he might leave McLaren.

Hamilton has a contract with the team up to 2012 and has previously said he wants to spend his whole career with the team.

He is quoted in The Guardian saying:

I haven’t had offers from other teams and I am not talking to anyone but I would listen to an offer if someone asked. It would be a compliment and it would be silly if I did not.

Thanks to Jay Menon for the tip. The Sun, The Times, the Daily Mail and others have all picked up the story.

The Press Association is now quoting Hamilton playing down the remarks:

I’m happy where I am. It doesn’t really have any grounds. All I said was that it’s quite cool if you find out other teams are interested in you. It’s good to know you are wanted. I honestly want to see out my career with McLaren. I do feel it’s my family, it’s where I am right now and it’s where I’m happy

On the face of it Hamilton’s original quote seems innocent enough – but it is a departure from what he has said before and I can understand why it’s been spun into a story.

Last week we were discussing how cautious and PR-sensitive Hamilton usually is, but it seems he has failed to exercise the same care with his words this time. These are not the kind of headlines McLaren needs as it heads into a tough weekend, and Hamilton has inadvertently invited a year’s worth of questions about whether he’s going to jump ship.

Is Hamilton really thinking about leaving McLaren on the even of what looks to be a difficult race for the team? Or is this the press giving him a hard time and spinning a spurious story out of a few innocuous quotes? Have your say in the comments.

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85 comments on Lewis Hamilton in publicity storm over ‘McLaren quit’ remarks

  1. Clare msj said on 26th March 2009, 10:01

    Hehe, I find it rather amsuing that the media took that quote to mean ‘he might leave Mclaren’ – I have now read that quote several times, and I still dont think it suggests anything of the sort. Completely taken out of context.

    I cant see him ever leaving Mclaren personally, but its a fact of the game that he will get other offers – of course he will – and like he said, its a compliment – cant see him acting on it though, he is very much a Mclaren man!

    • Gman said on 26th March 2009, 16:09

      Same here- he’s a product of the McLaren system, and as long as he keeps in top form, I can’t see McLaren letting him walk out the door.

  2. gazzap said on 26th March 2009, 10:02

    I dont think if Mclaren have a poor start to the season that it means they will be a midfield team for several seasons. I can see them starting poorly and then improving. they have not got things right yet but importantly, they have a strong and focussed team. so whatever happens in the long run they will right up there with the leading teams.
    whatever the question asked was, Hamilton should really have been more careful with his words. I guess its a sign of his frustration and clearly he knows that he does not have a winning car at this moment in time.

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th March 2009, 10:04

    Good to see he’s now joined the GPDA:


    Which other F1 drivers aren’t in it? I think Raikkonen isn’t.

  4. Kester said on 26th March 2009, 10:13

    To be honest I would be surprised if he didn’t have a performance clause in his contract, governing the teams performance.

  5. Paige said on 26th March 2009, 10:14

    There’s a possibility Hamilton may be making a comment like this out of frustration with McLaren’s current form, or possibly even to put pressure on McLaren to improve.

    More likely, Hamilton was just making an honest and innocent comment that is being overblown by the media.

  6. GQsm said on 26th March 2009, 10:23

    GPDA chairman Pedro de la Rosa was quoted in March 08 saying the 4 drivers that weren’t members were Hamilton, Raikkonen, Anthony Davidson and Adrian Sutil.

  7. Jonathan said on 26th March 2009, 10:29

    it was stupid of him to say that he will never leave McLaren.

  8. John Spencer said on 26th March 2009, 10:40

    The depressing aspect of this is that we bemoan drivers who never stray from their corporate sponsor-approved PR-prepared non-committal generic and dull speeches, but as soon as any driver says something remotely different or interesting, the media (not you Keith, the tabloids) twist an off-the-cuff remark into a ‘newsworthy’ and pretty much fabricated headline.

    Matt Bishop has probably stuck Vodafone branded tape to Lewis’s mouth already. Now we can look forward to a season of ‘the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team working really hard together to address the performance shortfall of the technical package’ instead of making the car faster.

    • Gman said on 26th March 2009, 16:12

      Spot-on bro, it’s such a corporate environment these days that even a polite remark (as I believe this was, nothing more) is twisted into a conspiracy theroy.

  9. Good to see a balanced report, thanks Keith.

    Yawn, bring on the racing. I’ll be wide awake while that’s on…even if practice is at 1.30am tonight.

  10. Noel said on 26th March 2009, 10:52

    No offence intended Keith – I read this site as it’s the least biased and most balanced of the lot – I was just surprised at the somewhat sensational headline :)

  11. todd said on 26th March 2009, 10:53

    anyone seen this yet on autosport?

    Hamilton expects no points in Australia

  12. John H said on 26th March 2009, 11:14

    If Lewis speaks his mind – he gets criticised. If Lewis says no comment – he gets criticised.

    The guy cannot win with the media or the F1 fans. I agree with Mr. Spencer above.

  13. carl said on 26th March 2009, 11:19

    The “I Hope” at the end of that interview doesn’t sound very positive. I have alway been a true McLaren supported and I always use to say that if Kimi wants to become World Champ he has to leave McLaren which he did and it worked for him. So if McLaren cant give LH a car that win WDC then everybody can understand that he might consider other options. This is their jobs and their lives and they aim for the best. No one ones to be at the back of the Grid. You only get so many years in F1 then its over. You have to make the most of it while you can

  14. Josh J said on 26th March 2009, 11:28

    Wow, I’ve really missed getting stuck in to these forums!!

    I really think that Lewis should have known better than to have gotten even vaguely drawn into a quote on this topic. He knows where it leads, and it was a long enough quote for him to be perfectly aware of where people would take it. Unfortunately it seems to follow the Alonso tactic of using a stick to beat his team faster rather than a carrot.

    I can;t help but feel that this year will be fascinating to really see Lewis’s true quality and heart under adversity. It would be really lovely to see him keep his head down and fight for every single point, and inspire the team to a truly great performance – and also just to see how capable he is of driving the development of a car at this point in his career.

    He really does need to be compared to Alonso and all that he managed to achieve last season, which really was truly mighty. Not that I like his attitude much of the time.

  15. just read his quote carefully and you can deduce that he didnt mean what the articles said. it has been mis-interpreted just to make a story out of it.

    it clearly shows that he meant that if some other team approached him, he would be flattered, and would listen to what they had to offer, but he never even made an incline as to accepting what they have to offer.

    mean he will listen to what they have to say but wont hear what they are saying.

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