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Lewis' decision affects many

2012-09-18 10:30

LONDON - Formula One heads for the bright lights of Singapore this weekend with the rumour mill sparking as it spins but the driver merry-go-round is seemingly stalled until Lewis Hamilton makes his mind up about his future.

McLaren's 2008 world champion is not alone in holding a key to the carousel but, out of contract at the end of the season, he stands out as a driver with control over his destiny and a man whose talents are both sought and fought over.

If he decides to leave "home" and move to Mercedes, the 27-year-old Briton will trigger a chain reaction around the paddock that looks sure to coincide with Michael Schumacher's second retirement.

ON THE OTHER SIDE

What happens at Ferrari, the other big F1 conundrum of the moment, will be a decision taken by the Italian team rather than Brazilian Felipe Massa - who wants to stay alongside championship leader Fernando Alonso but risks being ushered to the door.

Yet Ferrari may also have to wait for Hamilton, with potential alternatives to Massa maybe wondering whether a McLaren drive might be a better option than being Alonso's number two.

Hamilton told reporters he was focusing solely on winning a second title with McLaren and would not be distracted by the contract speculation and "rubbish" swirling around him.

One simple way to end the talk would be to announce a decision, and McLaren has planned further talks with his management between Monza and Singapore.

There could be a sudden agreement but equally, with both sides seemingly determined to play hardball, there is a risk of relations between him and his current team rapidly deteriorating.

Sooner or later, he will have to decide who offers him the best chance of winning races and titles as well as the most money both in terms of wages and the commercial freedom to create and sell himself as a “brand”.

BIG DECISIONS

Since Hamilton entered F1 in 2007, groomed by McLaren for the best part of a decade, his current employer has won 32 races to Red Bull's 30 and Ferrari's 27. Mercedes has one sole victory, excluding the eight won by predecessor Brawn GP.

McLaren will have to pay Mercedes for their engines from next year, however, with an entirely new power plant to be introduced from 2014.

Hamilton's departure would surely mean the end of the road for seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher, whose 91 wins make him the sport's most successful driver, at the age of 43 and after three disappointing comeback years with Mercedes.

Nico Rosberg has a contract for 2013, won in China for Mercedes and team principal Ross Brawn has said he is staying.

Only a few months ago, Schumacher's choice seemed to be between calling it a day or deciding to race on.

It could be that the German has already decided to go, in which case Hamilton's deliberations will change nothing, but it could also turn out that he no longer has a choice.

Schumacher, who has been on the podium just once with Mercedes, told reporters to expect no comment until October.

NEW TALENT

Waiting in the wings are an increasing list of hopefuls who have caught the eye of the media at least and been linked to McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari.

They include the Force India pair of Paul Di Resta, a German touring car (DTM) champion with Mercedes and now sharing a manager with McLaren's Jenson Button, and Germany's Nico Hulkenberg.

Sauber's Mexican Sergio Perez is another in the spotlight, with three podium finishes for the Swiss team this season as well as being a member of Ferrari's young driver academy.

Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo said Perez needs more experience to race for the Maranello team but that has not stopped him being linked to both them and McLaren.

Caterham's Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen, a race winner at McLaren and Alonso's team mate at Renault before that, has been touted by others.

The only team completely sheltered from speculation is champion Red Bull, with double title winner Sebastian Vettel and Australian Mark Webber. The team, alone among the top teams, has already locked down its 2013 lineup.

AFP

Comments
  • cobus.fenwick - 2012-09-18 18:57

    It is sad to realize that tha love of the sport is ruled by money, I suppose like every other aspects of life. That is why most of us are not happy because we want more money. Words like: Selfrespect, loyal, respect for others, etc. do not exsist anymore. To my knowledge is Michael Schumacher paid less since his comeback than what he was use to been paid. I exclude him from above then. Hamilton is Quoted: Sooner or later, he will have to decide who offers him the best chance of winning races and titles as well as the most money both in terms of wages and the commercial freedom to create and sell himself as a “brand”. OFFERS HIM THE BEST CHANCE OF WINNING, ETC!!!!!!! Why Ferrari, 2nd to Alonso (team orders?). Mercedes doesn't win races!!! but thanks for keeping everyone waiting. If he moves to another team his carreer is over. He was made World Champion by Glock at Interlagos!!! What happened after that??? Thanks for the emphasis that drivers get chances of winning, I saw that happening in 2012, maybe before but they then did it more discrete, if it was the case. Think of Maldonado, say no more. Rosberg in China? Go Hamilton, What does Williams offer you, they have won a race them Maldonado can play second fiddle to Button, untill he retires and Maldonado can get chances to win. Does anyone think that Michael is racing for money? Just his presence are making F1 millions of bucks. If he starts winning again alot of other(anti-Michael supporters) will stop watching F1??????????

      adam.wood.146 - 2012-09-19 09:49

      ...what?

      david.davids.5070276 - 2012-09-19 13:25

      WTF Dude, do you actually think before ranting - Seriously

  • cobus.fenwick - 2012-09-21 08:25

    Yes David,David,David, thinking is not so difficult, it helps a lot to think, maybe you should try it. Many people uses it to get along in life. And to Adam: Don't worry, just read it slowly a couple of times, you might understand it then.

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