By Tim Manson
As Lewis Hamilton stormed to victory in the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, talk in the pit lane continued on his future. He’s been linked with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes and, as with most gossip, it can be dismissed with relative ease. However, the link with Mercedes appears to be almost as good as a done deal with the involved parties McLaren, Hamilton and Mercedes making no moves to dispel or deny such an arrangement.
The BBC’s F1 pundit Eddie Jordan has claimed that Mercedes and Hamilton have agreed a contract allowing him to make the swap at the end of the current season, though McLaren have confirmed as far as its concerned Hamilton and their representatives are still in negotiation over a new contract.
Why Hamilton would want to leave McLaren is on the face of it unclear. After all, McLaren have guided his career from the karting circuit from the age of 13 to World Champion. Mercedes sit 5th in the Constructors Championship and have only won one race since their return to the sport as a fully fledged team opposed to an engine supplier, whereas McLaren have won the last three a row.
McLaren have shown that they have the more competitive car in comparison to the Mercedes counterpart; they both run on the same engines the chassis being the only difference. The 2013 season will be the first year that McLaren have to pay for the Mercedes engine knocking a considerable chunk from their budget which could have otherwise been used to persuade Hamilton to stay.
There have been rumours that Hamilton was offered a reduced salary in order to keep McLaren competitive in research and development. Hamilton, a World Champion Driver, already earns less than half of Alonso’s salary, so it may be the case that the larger offer from Mercedes will be too much to turn down.
Regardless of what decision Hamilton makes, F1 principle Martin Whitmarsh is still confident of having a competitive driving duo on the grid at the start in 2013.
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