It’s the talking point of the moment, the rumour mill’s favourite topic: is Lewis Hamilton going to Mercedes? There’s a short answer to this one: who knows? Clearly, Hamilton’s management team – XIX, a set up better used to pampering pop stars than negotiating F1 contracts – have been talking to Mercedes; we know that because Eddie Jordan told us (tongue firmly in cheek there). To be fair to Eddie, he does have contacts who would know these things, but to lead us to believe that today (Wednesday) is the day we should expect a major announcement is a guess at most. I recall Joe Saward saying that today is the day for a major management meeting at Mercedes, and some have taken this to mean they will make an announcement of some sort. We shall wait and see.
So, will he or won’t he, how do we reckon things stand? Hamilton has desires to be paid more – who doesn’t – and the rumour is that Mercedes is willing to pay him more than McLaren. This is not the be all and end all for a racing driver, though: Hamilton also wants a winning car, and team, and on that will give him 100% dedicated attention. It’s arguable that McLaren, with its time-honoured no-number-one ethic, may not be doing enough; it’s also arguable that Mercedes could do so without too much trouble. Furthermore, the attraction of a ‘works’ team as the sport heads into a new era of engine specifications is not to be overlooked.
Mercedes has invested heavily in top-line technical staff and has excellent facilities to hand. It is, we are told, ready to invest in ‘top’ driver to lead it forward. Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, the inference is, are not the men to do so. If we do get an announcement today it may be that Schumacher is retiring from driving and taking up a management post at the team. It will not be, as has been rumoured, the departure of Mercedes from F1. It is more likely, however, that there will be no major announcement, as Hamilton is unsure which way to turn next. If Hamilton does move then the driver market is thrown wide open. That would be a lot of fun for all of us!