Is Mercedes the right move for Hamilton?

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Lewis Hamilton has shaken up the F1 driver market by announcing he will drive for Mercedes from 2013.

The 2008 world champion has ended an association with McLaren which lasts beyond the six years he has driven for them in Formula One. He first introduced himself to Ron Dennis in 1995, aged nine.

Hamilton made several costly errors on the track last year. Having got back on top of his game this year, has he just made an even bigger mistake off the track?

For

Three years after their return to F1 as a full manufacturer team, Mercedes show the potential to become a competitive force in Formula One. They scored their first win earlier this year in China with Nico Rosberg, and probably should have had another in Monaco where Michael Schumacher would have been on pole position but for a penalty.

Last year Ross Brawn assembled a highly experienced technical team including Bob Bell, Geoff Willis and Aldo Costa, who have had time to gel over the course of 2012 in preparation for Hamilton’s first year with the team.

Leaving McLaren at a time when they have the most competitive car in F1 is a calculated gamble. Mercedes’ arrival in F1 in 2010 relegated McLaren to the status of engine customer having previously been the focus of Mercedes’ efforts. With a major change in engine rules coming in 2014, Hamilton’s move could turn out to be very well-timed.

His new team mate, Nico Rosberg, is a known quantity as the pair raced together in karts at Team MBM (ironically, standing for Mercedes-Benz McLaren) in 2000. Rosberg, who has won once in 122 starts, is likely to be a less challenging team mate than Jenson Button.

On top of that, Hamilton’s Mercedes deal is reported to be more lucrative, with greater opportunities for him to increase his earnings through personal endorsements, which are tightly restricted by McLaren.

Against

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2008McLaren have given Hamilton a race-winning car in every season he has driven for them, and a potentially championship-winning car more often than not.

Switching from them to Mercedes, who have won one race out of the last 52, invites comparisons with other world champions who made ill-fated moves: Emerson Fittipaldi to Copersucar in 1976, Niki Lauda to Brabham in 1978, and Jacques Villeneuve to BAR in 1999.

The potential of Mercedes’ technical team has not yet been reflected in their car, which has fluctuated in performance and suffered more reliability problems that most.

In the short-term, Hamilton’s impending departure from McLaren is not going to help his flagging championship hopes. The team will have to keep him out of the loop on any developments that relate to their 2013 car, which is only going to make it harder to maintain their current level of performance.

And he can kiss goodbye to that McLaren F1 LM he was promised if he won three drivers’ titles with McLaren.

I say

On the surface it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Hamilton has switched to a less competitive team because they are offering him more money. There is obviously more to it than that. Asked at Monza what was his priority when choosing a team Hamilton responded simply: “I want to win.”

But moving to Mercedes is a considerable risk. This is a coming-of-age moment for Hamilton – a severing of the McLaren umbilical cord. The question is whether it makes or breaks him.

Mercedes’ performances suggest there is untapped potential along with their enviable resources and manpower. But they’ll have to raise their game considerably if Hamilton is to overcome the combined might of Vettel at Red Bull, and Alonso at Ferrari – not to mention Hamilton’s old team.

You say

Will Lewis Hamilton’s move to Mercedes bring him another world championship by 2015? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Will Hamilton win the drivers' championship with Mercedes in the next three years?

  • Yes (39%)
  • No (61%)

Total Voters: 657

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272 comments on Is Mercedes the right move for Hamilton?

  1. celeste (@celeste) said on 28th September 2012, 20:37

    First happiness is having my laptop back…. But my head hurst with all this…

    Reason say Hamilton/ XIX Enterteinment/ Simon Fuller (the beggining of every that if wrong with the sport) took back decision based on money… Mercedes have had the “super” engineiring team and neither driver is still in championship… neither constructor… Mclaren for all their faults has create winning cars in recent years, and Hamilton has always have a chance at the championship…

    I don´t know how Perez will do at Mclaren, everyones is talking about how he manages tyres, but I think a big part of this is due to Sauber car…

    What do I knoe anyway, this is gonna be interesting next year… and starting to get the porn corn ready for the 2013- 2014 silly season and Vettel to Ferrari saga… cheers …

  2. Seems to be the same people who criticized Hamilton for coming into F1 with a good car (as if that means anything – Michael Andretti went to Mclaren in 1993, 2nd in constructors Championship that year, look how that panned out.) are criticizing him for leaving the team that “Nurtured him”

    My take on it is:

    He wants a new challenge, it just seems stagnant at Mclaren to me since Whitmarsh took over. Lewis goes to Merc with a clean slate and the chance to build the team around his considerable talent. Thy have some brilliant technical staff now and if they get it right will be hard to beat!

    At the same time…if it doesnt work out….he’s won 20 gps so far in his career, I doubt he’d go 3 years at Mercedes without winning a couple more….he’ll end up in the top 10 of all time in terms of wins…hardly a bad career aye??

    What I’d love is to see him in a championship winning capable car against Alonso in a season long battle for the Honours!

    If he never wins another championship, he will and many other people will feel he’s under achieved with the amount of talent he has. But hats off for taking the risk…and I dont think its as big a risk as some people want to make out…

  3. Aleksandr (@) said on 28th September 2012, 21:11

    And (with this) F-1 is becoming motorsport fortune of NBA.

  4. A Walker said on 28th September 2012, 22:48

    Of course he made the right move. Whitmarsh is a Button guy and LH is Ron’s guy. If you want to get rid of someone what would you do? A – offer him half what he is worth and pretend it’s the economy… Then really upset him by offering a serious package only when the board says to MW “what are you playing at?”
    The Mac board should ask themselves some searching questions about the management, or perhaps ask their computer which works out their race strategy to tell them what they should have done! Ooops too late, sounds like a few of their races…

  5. Will Hamilton’s move bring him another title? Only time will tell
    Is Hamilton moving to MErc the best move? I’d say yes. He seems to be very much dissilussioned with Mclaren, and I think that mentally he needs a new environment to work in.

  6. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 29th September 2012, 2:41

    Well once we get to Melbourne and the whole world sees that the Mercedes will be a second off the pace, and Button dominates Perez, then it’ll be evident that it was the wrong decision…

  7. J Dubya (@j-dubya) said on 29th September 2012, 2:52

    Between Hamilton, Perez, and Rosberg who will score the most points in each 2013, 2014, and 2015?
    2013
    1. Perez 2. Rosberg 3. Hamilton
    2014
    1. Perez 2. Hamilton 3. Rosberg
    2015
    1. Perez 2. Hamilton 3. Rosberg

    That being said, Hamilton will most likely be in more photo shoots.
    jws

  8. leotef (@leotef) said on 29th September 2012, 3:47

    Now with more information flowing in from Ross and Martin, it seems clear that Lewis chose Merc to take a further challenge, well, at the cost of money. McLaren offered Lewis more than GBP 25mil while Merc was offering around GBP 15mil, and Lewis chose Merc? This is interesting and definitely shows he wants to make jump in his career in a more wholesome way.
    It may go either way. But one thing for sure is that, the result will be his making too. Really big bet.

  9. juergen (@juergen) said on 29th September 2012, 4:14

    Too many interesting AND long comments, I can’t read them all. So in short I answered YES. Hamilton needs to breath new air. I could elaborate on the latter, but I guess most people get the idea.

  10. Marcus (@jadedwriter) said on 29th September 2012, 4:37

    Today is the day that every F1 forum goes into thermonuclear meltdown.

  11. JenniKate (@jennikate) said on 29th September 2012, 7:01

    I voted no because I don’t believe he’ll win a title with them in the next 3 years. However I think he made the right move. He is clearly not entirely happy at McLaren, many journalists are talking about him growing up with the team and l think that does have an impact on your relationship and your mentality of your position.
    I think we’ll now see what Lewis it’s really capable of, can he lead and inspire a team to constantly improve and ultimately win?

  12. I also think his decision is wrong in the short term – meaning at least 2013- but maybe good in long term.
    But it is a decision that sooner or later had to be made. Hamilton was not happy anymore there and Mclaren couldn’t operate as the would. So in the end i think its better this way for both parties.
    As for Mercedes they seem to have a dream team of engineers so the next years would be for sure much better.
    Beside that, i don’t think that this last 3 years with Schumacher’s developing help would go for nothing.

  13. F1watcher said on 29th September 2012, 11:36

    nicole scherzinger, has ruined hamilton, I don’t know what their dynamics are but ever since she’s been in the picture its been a struggle (mentally) to focus for hamilton. I am not a big mclaren fan, but I know hamilton has immense speed. I hope this is a fresh start for him, although I have a feeling beating nico is not going to be easy.

    • Bobdredds (@bobdredds) said on 29th September 2012, 12:24

      Lol, they should never have let her opperate the wheel gun in the pitstops eh. Nicole is part of Lewis’s adventure and based on his recent performances a few of the other drivers could do with a “Nicole” in their lives. :)

      • F1watcher said on 29th September 2012, 18:29

        I am obviously referring to the turmoil of 2011. When Jenson outscored Hamilton, and where by Hamilton’s own admittance was facing personal issues.

  14. Tayyib (@m0nzaman) said on 29th September 2012, 12:22

    I would have stayed at mclaren, they have a long long history of being competitive and winning. Also its home for hamilton, he knows the place inside out and at mercedes there is no promise that their car is going to be as quick as mclarens. Nico will have to up his game andif he does there could be sparks flying in the mercs garage with those two driving quick.

  15. Jason (@jason12) said on 29th September 2012, 12:43

    Still wonder why Red Bull didn’t sign Lewis earlier, would have thoroughly enjoyed the Lewis/Vettel pairing.

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