Silly Season Gets Serious – Hamilton And McLaren Play Chicken
Now that some time has passed and we have all had a chance to digest some of the stories, let’s take a quick look at one of those stories.
All this time, everyone was concentrating on Massa’s seat at Ferrari. Who would replace him? There are so many candidates. After Malaysia, everyone pointed the finger at Sergio Perez. It made sense, he is Ferrari property in a roundabout way. He’s young, talented and fast. A good fit to be groomed as Alonso’s eventual replacement, one could argue. The rumours silenced then resurged again after another strong race in Italy. Ferrari have said however, that Perez is too young and perhaps still inexperienced for Ferrari. The other side of the coin is that Ferrari have never really been known to “groom” a driver for the number one slot. They rather just go out and get whoever is hot when they become available.
Meanwhile, fans and media speculated about who was going to oust the little Brazilian from his little red wagon, trouble was busy brewing at McLaren. Contract talks between McLaren and Lewis have been going on for so long, I personally cannot remember when the discussions began. It has come to the point now where stories are circulating about Hamilton’s interest in switching to Mercedes, or rather Mercedes’ interest in him with some fairly large numbers floating about.
Without going into detail, on the surface, this move makes little sense to me on both fronts. Strictly as an opinion, I offer the following reasons; Lewis needs to go to or stay at a team like McLaren that has a proven track record of victory. This offers him the best opportunity to win multiple titles. If Hamilton’s aim is solely to increase his net worth, then a switch to any team that opens the purse strings enough is viable, which history has shown us, will not be McLaren. McLaren are generally known to be financially responsible and will not pay anyone any more than they believe they are worth.
Mercedes on the other hand, need to prove they have a right to be in F1. They need to show that their involvement on Sunday can sell cars on Monday. Schumacher is doing a fair job of this, thus far…arguably. He will want to hang up the helmet one day, especially given the fact that his return hasn’t yielded the glory he was used to at Ferrari. From a financial stand point, Lewis may benefit from the switch. From a career stand point, he may not do himself any favors at all. Mercedes has won one race thus far, hardly the sign of a future title contender in comparison to McLaren for instance.
Here’s the twist, If in 2014 when regulations change, Mercedes holds the key to success over the rest of the field, the move to the German team could make Lewis look like an absolute genius. Then again, the exact opposite could happen which would leave him as frustrated as a young adolescent after a night at a strip club, but with more money in his pocket. Especially if talks about a Mercedes partial “pull out ” of F1 turn out to be true.
Now to make things a little more interesting, it has been rumoured that McLaren have contacted Sergio Perez. There’s that name again. I have not been able to get confirmation from McLaren nor from Sergio’s press officer, so I will continue to treat this as rumour. However, if true, it certainly sends the signal to Hamilton that Whitmarsh and company know how to fish and they know which river will yield a good catch. Food for thought.
Some argue that this story might have inflamed the situation and perhaps pushed Lewis further away. Then again, other stories indicating that Lewis is sending signals that he has intentions to stay are just as prevalent. 2013 is going to be a rather stagnant season in terms of development with the big changes coming in 2014. Can you see Lewis really making a move to a team that is struggling to sort themselves out, even with Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher at the helm? I believe all of this to be a sort of courting dance with each party looking for leverage in order to get what they want.
I maintain the best bargaining tools are for McLaren to give Hamilton a winning car and for Hamilton to take that car and show McLaren he can win with it.
Who would you believe? Where do you think Lewis will be driving in 2013?
Author: Ernie Black