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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273 comments on Is Mercedes the right move for Hamilton?

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  1. Grubschumi said on 29th September 2012, 13:25

    “I think for Lewis, the attraction was being part of that building structure – the creation of the team. Not walking into a ready formed, successful package; it was being part of the process of building that package.”

    Almost reads like Brawn is already making excuses or giving Lewis the heads up that the package may not be competitive next year so be aware.

    I just don’t think Lewis has the patience for a building project. Also as for Mercedes what evidence does Hamilton show that he can build a team? He walked into Mclaren already a team built up.

    One thing is for certain, it will be interesting to see:
    1. If he can win some races
    2. If he can turn Mercedes competitive
    3. How good Nico Rosberg really is (People often assumed Schumi is a broken Barometer i.e. not as good as before)
    4. How long it will take till he spits the dummy out of his mouth.

    If he wants to model underwear, be the face of brand X or Y then he has the right management and team to allow him to do so. If he wants to win world titles then he should take a leaf out of Vettel and Alonso’s book and focus on your racing.

    • Jason (@jason12) said on 29th September 2012, 13:50

      :D I think both Vettel and Alonso have a lot to learn from Lewis.
      He is the star of of F1 today.

      • Grubschumi said on 29th September 2012, 14:30

        That’s the difference between serial winners, Alonso, Vettel, Schumacher, Mika etc. They focused on their driving. Hamilton seems to be trying to release an album, movie career, and F1 driver.

        The XIX (The 19) entertainment management are the only party guaranteed success out of this deal with Lewis taking all the risk. They seemingly are trying to create a rock star driving an F1 car.

        I hope Merc can be competitive because without a car for Hamilton to fight for the title would be a loss for F1 fans. We want to see the best drivers fighting at the front and we know Hamilton is one of the best and if he is not fighting at the front will deprive us of quality racing drivers battling it out for the win.

    • Jason (@jason12) said on 29th September 2012, 18:09

      Vette’s serial winning is incidental (as was Button’s WDC).
      He needs much superior car to dominate (as per Schumacher).
      Now the of Alonso, Lewis and Ayrton Senna are in a league of their own.
      I hope the Alonso/Vettel pairing happens in 2014 so this becomes obvious for all to see.

      • Nickpkr said on 29th September 2012, 21:22

        How can Hamilton be’ comparendo with Alonso or Senna ? He hasn’t done anything to deserve that or has he ?
        It very well be Lewis at Mclaren to much energy wasted in the wrong issues

  2. smokinjoe (@smokinjoe) said on 29th September 2012, 13:34

    I’m just surprised at the speed – what’s hurry? Even if McLaren had lined up Perez I don’t think they gained anything from a PR point of view. its just a tit for tat kinda
    response from mclaren

  3. Jason (@jason12) said on 29th September 2012, 13:40

    Lewis will definitely win a couple races next season. Wish we could bet on this.
    The MGP car has been three years in the making already.
    They were unlucky not be the fastest car this season, must have been a small (yet difficult to fix) technical glitch.

  4. I believe Hamilton would have inked a definite No.1 clause in his contract with Mercedes. IMO, the seed to all this was Hamilton’s meeting with Red Bull last year in Canada. Despite all the PR that McLaren managed to convince the world that everything had been smooth, the relationship had turned sour between for which I blame Hamilton entirely. And Button’s results in 2011 coupled with LH’s error strewn races tilted the advantage in McLaren to Button and LH would have woken up to see that he is no more the force in the team. And all the constant bickering and jealousy towards the happier Button side of the garage showed his frail personality.

    I see more merits for LH and McLaren with this move as LH would have strongly secured a No.1 claim in his contract and McLaren can begin to deal with men. Despite Mercedes misadventures in the first three years to build their German national team, I reckon they would be a strong force in the future. I wouldnt be surprised if Merc win the title with LH next year.

  5. Young One said on 29th September 2012, 14:37

    I commented here on the day when that wing issue happened, confident that McLaren will loose LH and also the constructors championship with these failures to utalise LH skills and determinations.

    At least now he will be going to a confident team led by Brawn and Rosberg who is the best ambassador for F1. Good on him on all accounts IMO.

  6. He will regret it

  7. Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 30th September 2012, 5:39

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

    This was one of the first things I thought of when it was announced he was leaving McLaren!

    +1 for mentioning it @keithcollantine

    A car I’d take over the new P1 any day.

  8. 2013 focus on Lewis Hamilton will be immense. Surely exciting.

  9. fm (@fokkinmoron) said on 6th October 2012, 9:11

    McLaren will get Hamilton back for way less than they were paying him before he went to Mercedes. After his time at Mercedes in which his failure to win a WDC and only a few races on the podium, he will be ready for a new change of scenery and McLaren, eager to continue their Affirmative Action program, will gladly welcome Hamilton back….at a reduced salary of course.

  10. McLaren are a curates egg as a team , sometimes they have a car capable of winning races , sometimes they don’t ; Hamilton has won plenty of races in his time there
    but Hamilton lusts for one thing in F1, and one thing only , to win the WDC …and here McLarens record is pretty poor ; ask yourself a question …would Hamilton rather win 6 races in a season or win one and the WDC …a no brainer I would suggest

    so he has taken the brave decision to join mercedes on the basis that they now have the technical team to produce a fast reliable car …it doesn’t have to be the fastest , because he is

  11. mercedes will have the strongest engine come 2014. but only time will tell.

  12. Formula-I (@f1indofans) said on 11th September 2014, 15:13

    Hamilton defied the doubters, he can win 2014. I know its a little bit awkward but most f1 fans prediction was wrong

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