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Lewis Hamilton Moves to Mercedes For 2013

Friday, 28 September 2012

In a surprising move Lewis Hamilton ends speculation by signing to drive for Mercedes for the 2013 Formula One season.

The move was announced by Eddie Jordan a couple of weeks ago, but officially denied by all parties, who clarified that negotiations were still ongoing. The key issue seems to have been financial, with Hamilton's contract at McLaren being exceptional in an era of reduced costs in the sport, and much more expensive than fellow F1 World Champion Jenson Button.

The rumour is that McLaren offered the same compensation as Mercedes, but that his new contract may allow more commercial and brand freedom. He has signed up with XIX Entertainment management and this could be a move to enable them to exploit his celebrity more than would be possible as part of the McLaren team.

The 27 year old has been with McLaren since he was 13 years old, and most pundits thought he would live out his career with them. The move to Mercedes will mean a move down the pit lane to a team which whilst showing promise as best of the rest, has so far failed to step up to the world beating consistency of McLaren, despite having two of the best drivers in Formula 1.

Michael Schumacher the most successful driver ever in Formula 1 came out of retirement to head the driver line out of the Mercedes team which evolved from the short lived but dominating Brawn team, which won the Driver's world championship with Jenson Button, in it's only year in Formula 1. Jenson Button was snapped up by McLaren, and the Brawn team was then bought by Mercedes, who brought in Schumacher and Nico Rosberg as drivers. Nico, a driver who came up through carting and GP2 with Lewis, has always been fast, and fairly consistently out performed his more experienced team mate.

Lewis Hamilton represents a significant investment by the cost concious German team, so we can be certain that they will be pushing hard over the next couple of years to compete for wins. And team principal Ross Brawn's track record is enviable.

On the announcement, Ross Brawn has said, “Looking ahead to 2013, I am delighted to welcome Lewis Hamilton to our team. The arrival of a driver of Lewis’ calibre is a testament to the standing of Mercedes-Benz in Formula One, and I am proud that Lewis shares our vision and ambition for the success of the Silver Arrows. I believe that the combination of Lewis and Nico will be the most dynamic and exciting pairing on the grid next year, and I am looking forward to what we can achieve together.

“Over the past three years, we have been putting in place the foundations and building blocks that are needed to compete regularly for the World Championship. Behind the scenes, we have assembled a team that is technically stronger, more experienced and better resourced, thanks to the support of Petronas and all of our loyal team partners.

“The potential is now there to match any other team on the grid, which is the minimum standard for a Mercedes-Benz works team. Our task is now to translate that potential into on-track performance for next season and beyond.”

Mercedes-Benz President of Motor Sport, Norbert Haug, added, “Mercedes-Benz has supported Lewis throughout his career, from carting, to Formula 3, to our successful partnership with McLaren, and it will be a very nice moment for all of us in the team to see him at the wheel of a works Silver Arrow next season, following in the tradition of British Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix drivers Sir Stirling Moss and Richard Seaman.

“The central task of any racing team is to deliver a car that allows the drivers to fully express their talents. In the 52 races for our works team, we have achieved a number of important milestones, including an historic victory for Nico Rosberg in China this year. We know that it is now time to take the next step, in order to deliver consistent front-running performances in the tradition of the Silver Arrows. Every single person in our team is working with total commitment and focus on achieving this ambition.”

Back at McLaren, Mexican driver, Sergio Pérez has been signed to replace Hamilton after an impressive year with Sauber.

Pérez said, “I’m thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver. The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula One. For more than 40 years McLaren has been a team that every racing driver has aspired to drive for - I was brought up on the great stories of Ayrton Senna's many world championship triumphs for McLaren - and I'm truly honoured that they've chosen me to partner Jenson from 2013.

“I've spent the 2012 season working very hard to demonstrate my potential, but I've always remained humble and focused. I am, and always will be, extremely grateful to Peter and everybody at the Sauber Formula One team for their belief in me, and for giving me the chance to race in Formula One.

“In fact, they gave me the perfect opportunity to demonstrate what I can do - and I'm now equally grateful to Martin and everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for giving me the chance to take this next very big step in my career.”

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal at McLaren, said, “I’m delighted to welcome Sergio on board. His performances throughout 2012 have convinced us that he's an extremely exciting prospect for the future. It was a string of giant-killing performances, a trio of podiums and a brilliant fastest lap in this year’s Monaco Grand Prix that showed us that Sergio lacks nothing in terms of speed and commitment.

“We've been monitoring his progress carefully for some months - and, now that he's become part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, our task will be to refine and develop his abilities as his career progresses over the coming years.

“Uniting Sergio alongside Jenson will give us a very broad base of driver ability. Jenson is one of motorsport’s greatest ambassadors, and his unique blend of prodigious speed and canny race-craft makes him formidably well-armed to fight for victory on any Grand Prix circuit in the world. While Sergio is still developing his palette of skills, we're convinced that he's not only talented and quick, but also that he's willing and eager to learn.

“He's perfectly poised to develop into a world championship challenger. His addition to the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team provides us with the perfect two-pronged driver line-up for the new season.”