Friday, 28 September 2012

Hamilton to Mercedes, Perez to McLaren, Schumacher to...? The 2013 driver market hots up

Lewis Hamilton has signed for Mercedes AMG Petronas, bringing an end to one of the biggest sagas of this year's silly season.

The Brit, who has been with McLaren since the age of 13, has signed a 3 year deal with the German outfit, expected to be worth around about £60 million. The deal, orchestrated by Lewis Hamilton's management, XIX Management headded by Simon Fuller, is thought to not only give Hamilton a higher salary than what was on offer from McLaren, but also give him more freedom with regards to image rights. Hamilton had been frustrated, not only with his salary, but McLaren's inconsistency early in the 2012 season and the fact that he was not allowed to keep any of his race winning trophies.
The move reunites Hamilton with Nico Rosberg. The pair were team mates during their karting days.

Schumacher's future is unclear
Hamilton's capture casts a dark cloud over the future of Michael Schumacher. The seven time world champion who's comeback has yeilded only one podium finish and one pole position (subsequently taken away due to a penalty) in 3 years. A stark contrast to his dominant first career. Schumacher's manager, Sabine Kehm, was seen to be in talks with Sauber at the recent Singapore grand Prix. However, it is unknown whether Schumacher will go back into retirement, possibly in an abassadorial role for Mercedes; or move to Sauber, who he previously raced Mercedes sports cars for in 1990 and 1991. Sauber boss Peter Sauber recently stated “I would take him immediately” when asked about the possibility of signing Schumacher for 2013.

Michael Schumacher's unlikely move to Sauber could now go ahead after a seat became available at the Swiss team courtesy of the departing Sergio Perez.

Perez (right) moves to McLaren to replace Hamilton (left)
Perez, seen by many as the star of 2012 has been confirmed by McLaren as Lewis Hamilton's replacement, signing what has been reported as 'a multi-year deal'. Many expected Perez to join Ferrari to replace Felipe Massa in either 2013 or 2014, but that rumour was quashed by Ferrari President Luca DiMentezemolo who repeatedley claimed the young Mexican was too inexperienced for a team like Ferrari.

McLaren were quick to praise their new signing “In just two short years, Sergio has made a stunning impression on Formula One, taking a string of hugely impressive giant-killing podium finishes while combining a deft turn of speed with considerable maturity, and showcasing the potential ability to become one of the biggest stars in global motorsport" a McLaren statement read. The Woking team also paid tribute to outgoing Hamilton with team principle Martin Whitmarsh saying “It's entirely appropriate that I should take this opportunity to pass on our thanks to Lewis. He wrote a huge chapter of his life and career with us, and was, and always will be, a fine member of an exclusive club: the McLaren world champions' club.

Alonso and Massa are expected to remain together

The somewhat shock announcement of Perez's move to McLaren leaves Felipe Massa favourite to partner Fernando Alonso at Ferrari next season. The Brazillian, who's contract with the Italian team expires at the end of the 2012 season, was expected to be dropped but after a recent upturn in form, he is now thought to be remaining with The Scuderia for 2013 at least. Numerous other drivers have been linked with the second Ferrari seat such as Heikki Kovalinen, Nico Hulkenberg, Adrian Sutil, Jaime Algersuari and even former Ferrari World Champions Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen. Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button were also on Ferrari's radar befor comitting to long term deals with Red Bull Racing and McLaren respectively. Fernando Alonso had the opportunity to veto any move for Hamilton, and did so after their tumultuous season together in 2007 despite publicly stating he would not mind having Hamilton as a team mate once more.

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