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. 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.

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

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 :)

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

    anyone seen this yet on autosport?

    Hamilton expects no points in Australia
    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/73907

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. This sort of thing is probably why Hamilton is so cautious with what he says all the time. Any comment taken out of context can be blown up into a big news story.

    He will regret saying it but you can see where he is coming from, any offers from other teams would be considered a compliment, and if nothing else when it is time to negotiate a new contract at McLaren he will know his worth on the open market.

    It looks like McLaren won’t be competitive at the start of the season, so leaving him too much ground to make up in the championship to retain his title. He will know McLaren have off seasons and the only better place for long term success in F1 is Ferrari.

    Being a fan of McLaren and Hamilton I would like him to stay at McLaren for the rest of his career and be successful. However he could easily be in F1 for another 10 years and who knows what the future will bring to the sport as a whole in that time. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years F1 is vastly different to what it is like today.

    • Gman said on 26th March 2009, 16:17

      Same here. I am also a big fan of both Hamilton and McLaren, and I imagine he will finish out his career with the team. But things change and circumstances are different sometimes- just a few years ago very few people thought that Dale Jr. would veer leave his family empire at DEI, but things changed and the landscape was altered in that sport. The same could happen in F1, but I believe Lewis will still be with McLaren for many more seasons.

  12. Oliver said on 26th March 2009, 13:48

    Someone also said he bought a yacht. The Media have a way of interpreting a statement and getting a whole different meaning. Then they make their interpretations into headlines quoting these interpretations as statements.

  13. Oliver said on 26th March 2009, 13:53

    Hamilton more often than not speaks his mind on issues, but journalists more often than not try to look for ways to invert words.

  14. Oliver, he did buy a Yacht, did u not see the size of the £5m thing!?

    Also — “All I said was that for sure if someone did approach me, I wouldn’t tell them to f*** off. I would think, ‘wow’.

    “It is great to see that there is interest in other areas but I am happy where I am right now, so that is all there is.”

    =] – http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/73900

  15. I agree, he would be stupid to not listen to other offers, especially if Macca fails to have a competetive car the next few years. The problem with mainstream media is that we still only get one side of the story as everyone takes everything out of context. Not saying that this is what happened here, but with MacLaren/Hamilton the PR machine that they are, this just sounds like the original reporter baited him with a question like “are you talking to any other teams about a contract right now?” and he answered with a ‘no, but I would if they called because I would be stupid not too’ and it blew up from there into “Lewis Isnt Happy at MacLaren – May Leave When Contract Is Up In 2012!”

  16. Williams 4ever said on 26th March 2009, 15:21

    Wouldn’t believe either the Drivers or the teams. They have way of lying through their teeth. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised to find Anthony Hamilton hobnobbing with Ferrari given that a) stefano domenicali had gone on record to put pressure on Kimi to up his game and b) Hamilton Sr. Has done that before when Ron Dennis adviced Hamiltons to stay put in Jr Formulae. Didn’t they Dally with Williams then?

    Would love to see Ron’s face if indeed Ferrari pull off the coup end of 2009 :P. It would be like visiting end of 2005 all over again, Luca DM playing Ron and Ron playing Flavio LMAO

  17. Yusuf said on 26th March 2009, 15:48

    If Hamilton is pushed, he only crashes the car more often making it even harder for the team to understand and figure what is wrong with the vehicle’s dynamics.

    I have a feeling that he will frustrate them even more than become a positive driver.

  18. Yusuf said on 26th March 2009, 16:05

    The last project I was involved that a product did not perform as we planned and designed for. The mistake was later was found and attributed to the algorithms we used for simulations which obviously side tracked us as we ended up chasing ghosts.

    I wonder whether they went back to check their modelling software, or they are still starring at the same blank screens?

  19. Gman said on 26th March 2009, 16:19

    I don’t think he’s going to be leaving Woking anytime soon- his statement was just a polite response to the question.

    • Robert said on 26th March 2009, 16:59

      Yer its not like he’s saying he is going to leave its just that if another team offered him he would look

  20. Keith, great forum, great debate. As always….

    No other site comes close when it comes down to intelligent debate with that little bit of spice and/or humour thrown in at just the right moment. The sheer numbers of knowledeable contributors you have is stunning.

    Going to be an amazing season !

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