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Sergio Perez to replace Lewis Hamilton UPDATE #2 This rumor is now 'fact' with this announcement.

09/27/12 Sergio Perez could be announced as Lewis Hamilton's replacement at McLaren on what promises to be a busy Friday for Formula One. Perez is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy and has tested for the Italian team, but he emerged as a potential candidate for McLaren after his superb performance in the Italian GP.

This could spell big trouble for Sauber if Perez takes all his Carlos Slim money to McLaren.

Is Perez being used as a pawn to keep Hamilton at McLaren
Mexican Sergio Perez is being lined up to replace Lewis Hamilton at McLaren as the British star's contract negotiations reach crisis point.

Only a week after McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh admitted the team did not have a 'Plan B', it is understood contact has been made with Perez as Hamilton ponders a £60million offer from Mercedes.

McLaren's approach to the 22-year-old Sauber driver is an indication the team are growing impatient with the negotiating strategy of Hamilton's management, XIX Entertainment.

The agency is controlled by Simon Fuller, the man behind the Spice Girls, David Beckham, Andy Murray and creator of the Pop Idol TV franchise. 

The move is the beginning of the end game. Hamilton may find his future is taken out of his own hands with the specter of Perez being courted by McLaren, who do not want to be outmaneuvered by the 27-year-old British driver.

A senior Formula One insider said: 'Lewis Hamilton is playing with fire, and when you play with fire sometimes you get your fingers burned. He'd be crazy to leave McLaren. If he wants to know what happens when you leave a top team to chase money, he needs only to Google Jacques Villeneuve.'

Hamilton is believed to be unsettled by the refusal of these demands and also by the salary offer on the table. The five-year deal negotiated by his father, Anthony, in 2007, was worth a total of £75m on a sliding scale, with this final year paying him about £18m. Sources close to XIX Entertainment claim Hamilton is being asked to take a pay cut to re-sign for McLaren, who groomed him from the age of 13.

This is flatly denied by McLaren. Informed speculation is that McLaren have proposed a deal close to £45m for a two-year contract, plus one-year option. Mail Online

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