Lewis Hamilton follows the money to Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton has signed for Mercedes. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
Lewis Hamilton has signed for Mercedes. The 2008 world champion will join the Brackley-based outfit alongside Nico Rosberg for the 2013 Formula One championship.
Hamilton had long been linked with the German marque. Rumours swirled around for months before the announcement was made on Friday. It signals the end of Michael Schumacher’s career, the German making way for Hamilton’s arrival.
The Englishman burst on to the scene in 2007 as a fresh-faced graduate from GP2. Groomed by the McLaren Driver Academy, he enjoyed the most successful debut season of any driver in the sport’s history, save Nino Farina in 1950.
When he joins Mercedes, Hamilton will have competed in 109 Grands Prix. So far he has won 20 of them. Only the true greats enjoy better figures; Juan Manuel Fangio won 24 Grands Prix from 52 starts.
Mercedes rejoined Formula One at the beginning of 2010 after buying the Brawn team. The current Mercedes team started life as Tyrrell before becoming British American Racing and Honda.
Nico Rosberg won the Chinese Grand Prix this year, the team’s first win since the 2009 Italian Grand Prix. It was Mercedes’ first win as a constructor since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.
Hamilton is one of the biggest names in Formula One. He has won races in every season in which he’s competed and commands one of the highest salaries on the grid.
He has not, however, been afforded the ability to develop personal endorsements as others have. McLaren have rarely given its drivers that sort of freedom, as its own ‘partners’ take precedence.
Attitudes at Mercedes are somewhat different. Drivers are permitted to have their own endorsements, which can be displayed prominently.
Endorsement opportunities appear to have been one of the carrots with which Mercedes was able to lure Hamilton. The other is suggested to be the 2014 engine regulations, when the sport will debut smaller capacity turbo-charged engines.
Hamilton’s move therefore looks to be based on speculation. He believes that greater freedom in the area of personal endorsements will earn him greater financial reward.
He believes working directly with a manufacturer, which is developing a 2014 engine, will give him greater opportunity than one of its customers. McLaren has long been powered by Mercedes, but from 2013 moves to a customer contract. It will pay for its engines for the first time since the 1990s.
Mercedes has won just a single race since it purchased Brawn in 2010. Hamilton has won twenty in his six year career to date. He has claimed to want to win, yet has signed for a team which has no pedigree. Hamilton has been inveigled by fame and fortune.
Formula One rarely rewards those who choose profit over pedigree. Jacques Villeneuve won the world championship in 1997. He joined British American Racing in 1999 and his career was over before the end of 2003.
Having won 11 Grands Prix in his first two seasons he never won another race. In 1997 he scored 81 points, but he would score just 76 more in his career. Jacques Villeneuve, too, was inveigled by fame and fortune.
Lewis Hamilton has signed for Mercedes. He has turned his back not only on the team which gave him the opportunity to reach Formula One, but on one with a history of success.
Mercedes has no such record. To suggest that he chose Mercedes to win is speculation at best and absurd at worst. Lewis Hamilton has followed the money and in doing so reduced his chances of winning more championships.
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