Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monza, 2012

Hamilton becomes focus of 2013 F1 driver market

2013 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

Hamilton to Mercedes?

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Monza, 2012A contract extension for Lewis Hamilton with McLaren looked like a formality after Mark Webber re-signed for Red Bull in July.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who would leave Mercedes?

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

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

Who would McLaren turn to?

Kimi Raikkonen, Spa-Francorchamps, 2012McLaren are clearly the team to beat at the moment having won the last three races. If Hamilton leaves they can go shopping for a replacement pretty much anywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Ferrari retain Massa?

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Monza, 2012Ferrari’s option on Felipe Massa’s services has expired and hasn’t been taken up.

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

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

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

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

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

Other potential moves

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

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

2013 F1 drivers and teams

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

2013 F1 season

Browse all 2013 F1 season articles

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

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

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  1. The first two paragraphs need proof reading.

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

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

    3. @matt90 I’ve corrected the error.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          2. @necrodethmortem,

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

            You point is valid, nevertheless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            My vote is (a).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      I’d say Sauber is favourite for Jaime.

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

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

        Coz I don’t think either is likely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Kovalainen is value for money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  6. A lot of interesting moves yet to come.

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

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

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

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

      I would love to see him carry on.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  12. Hm,

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

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

    Its so much fun to speculate :-)

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

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

      1. but did he specifically mean racing

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

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

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

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

      Van Der Garde and Rossi next year anyone? :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  18. Senna for the seat anyone…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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