Hamilton to Mercedes, Schumacher to leave

UPDATE #16 See the official announcement on our home page.


Lewis Hamilton goes for the money

This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' now with enough sources reporting it. Lewis Hamilton will walk out on McLaren, the Formula One team who have nurtured his extraordinary talent for more than half of his lifetime, and sign for Mercedes, the German car giant is expected to announce later on Friday.

Contrary to widespread speculation that the 27-year-old Hamilton was about to re-sign for McLaren, the team he joined as a 13-year-old and with whom he won the world championship in 2008, the fastest and most gifted driver of his generation has decided to join Mercedes, despite the fact that they have won only one championship race this season and languish in mid-table in the constructors' title race.

Mercedes are expected to announce that seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher will quit the team at the end of the season in November, making room for Hamilton's sensational switch, a move that will reverberate through the Formula One paddock for the remainder of this season. The Guardian

09/27/12 Lewis Hamilton is poised to cut his ties with his boyhood team McLaren and replace Michael Schumacher at Mercedes, Sportsmail can reveal. The German car giants will announce Schumacher’s second retirement at their headquarters in Stuttgart on Friday morning, with Hamilton about to replace him on a deal worth as much as £60million over three years.

It is understood that Hamilton, 27, will earn a basic salary of £15m a year, with potential win bonuses inflating his earnings. He will, therefore, maintain his status as one of the grid’s top earners alongside Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.

But while money was important to Hamilton — he is known to be careful with his finances — it was not the governing factor in his decision. More important is his desire to improve on a return of one title in five completed seasons.

Ross Brawn, the man behind Schumacher’s dominance, is team principal at Mercedes and his presence is sure to have been a major lure for the British driver. Mail Online

09/27/12 The most awaited decision of this year's 'silly season' is due to be announced on Friday. Lewis Hamilton has been weighing up offers from current employers McLaren and rival squad Mercedes over the past few weeks, but the situation is now expected to reach its climax and allow the 2013 grid to fully take shape.

Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle believes there has been a flurry of activity behind the scenes over the past few days, with McLaren recently improving their offer in a bid to retain the 2008 title winner. Should Hamilton decide to join Mercedes, it could signal the end of seven-time Champion Michael Schumacher's career.

On Thursday morning, Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn remained hushed over the speculation. However, he did explain that any 'ambitious' team – which he claims Mercedes certainly is – would look to acquire a driver with the quality he possesses.

09/25/12 According to AR1.com European sources, when the Mercedes board meets this week they will vote not to retain Michael Schumacher as an F1 driver. It is certain whether or not they will retain him in some other capacity. This same source says Hamilton will not take his spot at Mercedes and Hamilton will remain with McLaren.

09/24/12 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. McLaren are pinning their hopes of persuading Lewis Hamilton to stay on a £2million sweetener and the belief he will not risk a move to under-performing Mercedes.

The improved and, in all likelihood, final offer from McLaren averages out at £12m a season over three years. It is still £3m down on his current deal, which expires at the end of the campaign and which Mercedes have already offered to match.

But Woking-based McLaren are confident that despite the wage cut, Hamilton will re-sign as early as this week. He has been impressed with the speed of his car this season and its development.

Yet Hamilton, 27, is very tempted by the prospect of working under Ross Brawn at Mercedes, the man who helped guide Michael Schumacher to seven world titles, and has received assurances the German team will get funds to become front-runners.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Mercedes board is due to take place on Wednesday and news that Schumacher will retire could follow.

Hamilton's managers, Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment, insist their client will be the one to decide if he replaces Schumacher.

But there is a big disparity in the value McLaren place on Hamilton's image rights and the figure XIX believe they could generate should he move.

Hamilton is allowed only one personal sponsor – Reebok – by McLaren. At Mercedes, he could have a larger portfolio of sponsors Daily Mail

09/23/12 (GMM) According to the latest buzz in the Singapore paddock, the 'Lewis Hamilton saga' could be almost at the finish line.

Previously, it was rumored the McLaren driver was so close to agreeing a switch to Mercedes next year that Michael Schumacher had started looking around for a new team.

Writing in Kleine Zeitung newspaper, correspondent Karin Sturm even revealed she had spotted Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm talking in the paddock with Peter Sauber and Monisha Kaltenborn.

But the German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag reports something quite different.

Apparently the seven time world champion is now close to getting the nod for another season with Mercedes in 2013, because Hamilton is now tipped to stay at McLaren.

The newspaper said the British team has upped its financial offer from around EUR 12m to 15m per season.

"If McLaren extends, Schumi stays at Mercedes," the report concluded.

Former McLaren driver and British television commentator Martin Brundle has heard the same.

"(I've) been told Hamilton contract should be sorted in a few days," he told his 275,000 Twitter followers.

"If so, (the) music stops and there will be a huge rush to sit down."

Asked by the Spanish newspaper El Pais if he will be able to convince Hamilton to stay, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh answered on Saturday: "I am confident we will find a way."

09/14/12 A decision over Lewis Hamilton's future is set to be taken in the run-up to the Singapore Grand Prix, with reports suggesting that it is now 'no better than a 50-50 chance' that he will stay with McLaren.

Less than two weeks after rumors of a switch to Mercedes appeared, the Daily Mail, reports that an offer on the table from the Brackley-based team to become its 'undisputed number one' has led to Hamilton giving serious consideration to leaving the team that has guided his career since he was still involved in karting.

McLaren are rumored to have offered Hamilton a new deal on reduced terms while Mercedes are said to be prepared to not only match his current wage, but offer a range of bonuses which could increase the figure.

“The 2008 world champion is understood to have been shocked by McLaren's unwillingness to at least match his current salary," the Sportsmail article read, “the major sticking point being the perceived undervaluing of his image rights which he must sign away to their army of sponsors."

The report also suggests that the fact that Mercedes has just a single victory since purchasing the Brawn team ahead of the 2010 season isn't a cause of concern.

“Finances aside, Hamilton is understood to be excited by the prospect of working at Mercedes under Brawn, the man who helped guide Michael Schumacher to seven world titles at Benetton and Ferrari," the report reads. “…Hamilton is understood to be satisfied that, with Brawn at the helm and the backing of one of the planet's biggest car manufacturers, Mercedes can provide him with a car capable of realizing his dream of emulating Ayrton Senna's record of three world titles."

Their offer is also believed to come regardless of whether their veteran driver Michael Schumacher announces his retirement at the end of the season, as some suspect he will.


Schumacher has been beating his younger teammate Rosberg of late, and may not re-retire after all.

This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today. Amid all the hype about Lewis Hamilton's supposed move to Mercedes, the German squad appears to be preparing to extend Michael Schumacher's career.

The major German daily Bild said 43-year-old Schumacher's negotiations about 2013 and beyond are now "in full swing".

The report claims Mercedes is offering the seven time world champion a new contract for 2013, while Schumacher is apparently pushing for a unilateral option that would allow him to decide to keep racing in 2014 as well.

The carmaker's motor racing president Norbert Haug said: "There is still no decision. We are continuing to negotiate."

With Nico Rosberg already under contract for 2013, a new deal for Schumacher would appear to lock out McLaren's Hamilton, who according to Bild is demanding EUR 25 million per year from his next employer.

But Rosberg's name has also been connected with McLaren in recent days, raising the prospect of a Schumacher-Hamilton driver lineup at Mercedes in 2013.

Mercedes engines might also be playing a big role in the whole affair.

With former works partner McLaren now needing to pay the Stuttgart manufacturer for its power units, a cartoon at motorsport-magazin.com depicted Haug telling Martin Whitmarsh: "Kein Lewis, Keine motoren" (No Lewis, no engines).

09/07/12 (GMM) The Monza paddock is wall-to-wall with rumors about Lewis Hamilton's future, but McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh on Friday insisted he remains calm.

"Media like that sort of speculation," he said, amid suggestions the British team's 2008 world champion could be about to jump ship to Mercedes, replacing the great Michael Schumacher.

Whitmarsh said the reality behind McLaren's grey and glass doors is relaxed.

"Often stories that get circulated are blown out of proportion for entertainment reasons or whatever," he insisted.

When the Mercedes story broke, McLaren and Hamilton's management XIX Entertainment both issued statements to the effect that their 2013 talks are still on track.

"Lewis and his management have assured me of their intentions, we're focused on working together at the moment," Whitmarsh explained.

But another reality is that, on Thursday, Hamilton declared a defiant "No" when asked if he knows what colors he will be wearing in 2013.

Whitmarsh admits he cannot be totally sure what is going to happen.

"Ultimately a driver has to drive where he is happy to drive. I've made it clear from the outset," he said.

"Now lots of very positive things have been said to me. But there again, I've learned over the years that until people support that by inking the paper then you don't get too excited about it."


Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes bound?

(GMM) The Monza paddock is abuzz with rumors, and in the hottest seats are Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher.

Whether Hamilton stays put, and whether Schumacher retires, has many other interested parties on tenterhooks.

Eddie Jordan, a former team owner and now British television pundit, lit the touchpaper a couple of days ago by announcing he is sure McLaren's Hamilton is moving across to replace Schumacher at Mercedes.

"I know that his (Schumacher's) contract with Mercedes has a unilateral option for the years 2013 and 2014," the Irishman told German newspaper Welt, "so ultimately it's about whether he goes on or not.

"The only question for me is whether the decision has already been made or not. When I look at the available evidence, I think the change for Hamilton to Mercedes is very likely."

Jordan said he thinks Paul di Resta would be the man most likely to succeed Hamilton alongside Jenson Button, although he acknowledged that Kimi Raikkonen might be another option.

Force India's di Resta is keeping calm.

"It's all talk up and down the paddock," he told British Sky television, whilst giving nothing away.

The feeling in the paddock is that Hamilton's management XIX Entertainment is firmly responsible for the Mercedes rumors, but Hamilton on Thursday said he thought the saga was "not necessary" and destabilizing for his McLaren colleagues.

"But what will be, will be," said the Briton. "It will all come out when it's done."

It is rumored Bernie Ecclestone may – as ever – be playing a role in the subterfuge, and Hamilton did not even deny he has met with the F1 chief executive in recent days.

"He was telling me about getting married," the 2008 world champion joked.

So is Mercedes a real option for Hamilton, or just a lever to get what he wants from McLaren?

Asked if he knows who his teammate will be next year, Nico Rosberg answered simply: "No."

Team boss Ross Brawn is not ruling out Schumacher, insisting the seven time world champion still has "a huge amount of offer".

But is he talking about driving, or a new management role for the 43-year-old?

"With these technical changes we face, someone of Michael's experience and caliber would be a great asset," said Brawn.

In effect, he is not ruling out Schumacher or Hamilton as Rosberg's 2013 teammate.

"If we achieve what we want to achieve then we want to put ourselves in a position where every driver in formula one would consider driving for us," Brawn said.

He described Hamilton as an "excellent driver".

But is Mercedes a wise move for Hamilton, given the fact the German marque is yet to even sign a new Concorde Agreement for 2013?

Brawn said pen-to-paper on that matter is now "very close".

Button, however, advises Hamilton to stay at McLaren.

"I'd say congratulations to the guys at Mercedes for winning a grand prix this year but they haven't been in contention for a win as often as McLaren has won over the last three years," the former Brawn GP driver told F1.com.

And, anyway, if Schumacher has already decided to stay in 2013, there is no seat for Hamilton. Spain's Marca said a new one-year deal is certainly done.

The great German also revealed a new sponsorship deal on Thursday with a Chinese navigation technology company.

"You can approach the same topic from every different angle," Schumacher smiled, "but the answer will always be the same."

He has said repeatedly that he will decide by October.

But do the Hamilton-to-Mercedes stories change anything for Schumacher?

"I have heard them but I'm not going to say anything about it," said Schumacher. "I'm 43 years old, I am still competitive and still interesting for big brands," he is quoted by Germany's Focus.

09/06/12 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton put up his defenses on Thursday when asked about his current situation at McLaren, and a possible future beyond the British team.

A week after the damaging 'Twittergate' affair, pundit Eddie Jordan thinks the 2008 world champion is set for a shock switch to Mercedes.

But when asked about the German squad at Monza and the possible benefits of joining in 2013, 27-year-old Hamilton answered: "I've no idea. I've not really thought about it.

"I drive for McLaren," he added.

Asked if he has anything else to say about the rumors, Hamilton said: "Not really."

Hamilton was also coy when asked about the Twitter affair, in which his teammate Jenson Button admitted to being "disappointed" about the release of secret team telemetry.

"Nothing happened, the head of the PR department asked me to take it off, so I did," Hamilton said. "I've moved on.

"I haven't spoken to Jenson about it and don't plan to."

09/06/12 (GMM) Rumors about Lewis Hamilton's future have exploded. F1 team owner turned television pundit Eddie Jordan told the BBC he understands the 2008 world champion is on the verge of quitting McLaren to join Mercedes in 2013.

"I believe Hamilton and Mercedes have already agreed personal terms and a deal could be imminent," he said.

Jordan said he knows Hamilton's management – Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment – have had meetings with Mercedes chiefs.

He said Hamilton, 27, will surely replace Michael Schumacher.

"Bernie Ecclestone made it clear to me live on television on Sunday that Schumacher was leaving, although Schumacher later played it down," said Jordan.

If true, Jordan's story will have wider implications. The BBC said Kimi Raikkonen and Paul di Resta would be front-runners to join Jenson Button at McLaren.

The Daily Mail, however, said Hamilton might actually replace Nico Rosberg, meaning that German Rosberg could also be a candidate to switch to McLaren.

But a McLaren spokesman said the British team has been told by Hamilton's management "that the (Jordan) story is untrue".

Mercedes said they would not comment on speculation.

A spokesperson for XIX Entertainment said "we are in advanced discussions with McLaren about a new deal".

And Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm told Bild newspaper: "There is still no news, as nothing is decided."

Writing in the Times, correspondent Kevin Eason claimed that despite the Jordan story, Lewis Hamilton is in fact still "close to committing his future to McLaren".

Hamilton, who got into hot water at Spa last weekend in the saga nicknamed 'Twittergate', told the Express newspaper that he is "taking control" of his life.

"The life I have had has been very controlled and I am taking control of it," he said.

"I am allowing myself to get who I am out, rather than the corporate McLaren driver some people want you to be."

09/05/12 Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of leaving McLaren to drive for Mercedes next season, according to BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan.

The former team boss says Hamilton will replace Michael Schumacher, who will retire from driving for a second time at the end of the year.

"I believe Hamilton and Mercedes have already agreed personal terms and a deal could be imminent," Jordan said.

Mercedes and a representative for Hamilton have refused to comment.

However, a McLaren spokesman said: "We have been told by Lewis Hamilton's management team that the story is untrue."

He added: "Negotiations between Lewis Hamilton and McLaren continue."

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone hinted last Sunday that Schumacher was retiring.

Ecclestone told Jordan on BBC One: "I'm sorry that he's leaving us not being a winner, because he is a winner."

Asked if knew whether Schumacher was retiring, Ecclestone added: "I don't know, I don't know." BBC Sports

09/02/12 Video of the Ecclestone interview and video of Schumacher's response:

09/02/12 (GMM) Michael Schumacher on Sunday played down Bernie Ecclestone's suggestion the Mercedes driver is set to return to retirement.

"I'm sorry that he's leaving us not being a winner (with Mercedes)," the F1 chief executive told BBC One television before the Belgian grand prix.

Schumacher, 43, smiled when asked about Ecclestone's comments after the race.

"I guess he said: 'If I would leave'," the great German said.

"I told him (Ecclestone) yesterday I had not made a decision about my future."

Mercedes' Norbert Haug said on German television Sky: "(Regarding Schumacher's future) There is nothing new to report."

09/02/12 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone on Sunday hinted Michael Schumacher is set to return to retirement.

Asked by Eddie Jordan at Spa-Francorchamps about the seven time world champion's career spanning a 300 grands prix, the F1 chief executive answered: "I'm sorry that he's leaving us not being a winner (with Mercedes), because he is a winner."

The surprised former team owner Jordan, now working as a pundit for British BBC One television, asked 81-year-old Ecclestone if his comment means Schumacher is set to return to retirement at the end of the season.

"I don't know, I don't know," Ecclestone quickly replied.

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