January 25, 2013 by thedavidryan
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes future.
“Lewis Hamilton will drive for Mercedes next season” – If you would have uttered that sentence this time last year, the entire sporting world would have called the men in white coats to have you sectioned. However, Lewis Hamilton will indeed drive for Mercedes in the 2013 season and the two following seasons after that. While this frankly remarkable story is still tough to digest for some, the fact of the matter is, on the first day of the new Formula One season; Lewis Hamilton will be speeding round Melbourne’s Albert Park in a Mercedes AMG Petronas.
When this remarkable deal was announced that Hamilton was to leave the consistently competitive McLaren team, for the hugely underperforming German outfit back in September, fans and critics alike were left mystified as to why the 2008 World Champion would leave such a bankable car, to take over from the retiring Michael Schumacher at Mercedes.
Firstly McLaren is one of, if not the best, Formula One team of all time. The Woking based outfit has a wonderfully illustrious history, featuring multiple world champions and iconic drivers such as Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. It is also a team that has nurtured Hamilton for years during the lower Formula’s and even during his karting days. The only car Hamilton has ever driven round a Formula One track is a McLaren. So why would he decide to call time on a working relationship that has lasted for fourteen years?
After the announcement was made public back in September, Hamilton’s reasoning’s were that he felt he needed to “leave home” and experience life outside the McLaren walls. While this is admirable, it doesn’t fully explain the real truth behind his shock departure.
Casual F1 fans may have thought Lewis Hamilton’s move to Mercedes AMG Petronas was for financial reasons. However, if you are a devoted fan, you will be aware that Mercedes is an engine manufacturer to a number of cars on the F1 grid – including McLaren. What this means is that Mercedes will make a default Formula One engine and will sell them to other teams at a handsome price. The interesting aspect to this though, is that in 2014 there is set to be a complete overhaul with the engine regulations and a new revised engine formula will come into place. The current 2.4 litre V8 engine configuration will be replaced with a new 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engine that incorporates an energy recovery system into its build. Therefore Mercedes, who will be one of the few teams that makes engines, will have the opportunity to develop and understand the new engines long before the majority of the other teams – giving them a huge competitive advantage. It is this projected competitive advantage that is believed to have turned Hamilton’s head and made him sign on the Mercedes dotted line.
While McLaren had a relatively successful 2012 season, they were hugely inconsistent. At the start of the year, many of Lewis Hamilton’s races were ruined due to errors with pit-stops and reliability issues on the car which often forced him to retire during the race. It was the retirement from a race leading position in Singapore that many believe was the last straw for Hamilton, as he saw his title challenge evaporate for yet another season. It was shortly after this reliability failure that Lewis Hamilton reportedly met with Mercedes associate and former racer Niki Lauda, which persuaded Hamilton to join the Silver Arrows.
So are the impending 2014 engine regulation changes or the McLaren reliability issues the reasons that Hamilton left his first and only Formula One home for pastures new? Only Hamilton and his representatives will know. The main question now is; will Lewis Hamilton be a success at the underachieving Mercedes AMG Petronas?
Mercedes Motorsport is a big name in the motor racing game, so having a poor performing Formula One team is simply not acceptable. Since their return to the sport three years ago, Mercedes has only been able to notch up just one race win. This is a devastating return for one of the largest car manufacturers in the world and thus, with the acquisition of Hamilton, the German outfit has made great strides to build on this new racing era.
The most recent addition to the Mercedes AMG Petronas management team is the former Executive Director of WilliamsF1, Toto Wolff. The appointment is a huge statement to the F1 world, a statement that Mercedes are looking to be a real force in the next few years. Wolff will work with Niki Lauda and current Team Principal Ross Brawn in the new Mercedes structure, a team structure that seemingly isn’t finished recruiting. Rumours have been circulating that Mercedes are also trying to prize away McLaren Technical Director Paddy Lowe, in an attempt to bolster their new backroom structure even further.
With Mercedes taking these managerial changes, McLaren’s reliability issues and the fact the Silver Arrows will be in the driving seat (no pun intended, okay maybe it was) when the engine regs come into action in 2014, is it really a surprise Lewis Hamilton has decided to jump ship early and climb aboard the H.M.S Mercedes? Without doubt Mercedes has done everything in their power behind the scenes to give themselves the best possible chance to be competitive in the forthcoming Formula One season. The next step is for Lewis Hamilton to build on this new regime by flying the Silver Arrows back to the top of the podium.