Whitmarsh: It was all about the money

James Allen reports Martin Whitmarsh speaking today at a Vodafone phone in (say that after a few drinks) when discussed his feelings over losing Lewis Hamilton, his lack of regrets on the matter and the matter of Ferrari’s complaint to the FIA of the McLaren front wing being too flexible.

On the matter of Hamilton and sans regret, Whitmarsh words are, “The offer that we made was higher I believe than any driver in Formula 1 is currently receiving or will receive next year.”

Ok, thanks Martin that’s all cleared that up then… or does it?

I’ve read this carefully constructed sentiment a number of times over the past week and Whitmarsh has repeated it on a number of different occasions, not a single occasion merely reported differently by different sources.

“We made a very, very big financial offer, bigger than I believe any Formula One driver is enjoying today,” (Reuters)

And in a different interview reported in the Mail,

“‘We made a financial offer which is better than anyone in Formula One, other than Lewis himself, receives today, and that is something I am comfortable with.” (Daily Mail)

I try at times to resist my instincts, but after a semester of textual and literary criticism that has never been fruitfully employed in over 20 years, it’s time to dust off the text books.

Usually when someone consistently repeats something word-for-word or even very close to verbatim – it can be that the wording has been crafted such that it is designed to represent is a truism but is not probably the truth in terms of the full picture surrounding the issue.

So the Whitmarsh position began with stating the offer was bigger than any F1 driver, then in the next interview added, “other than himself” and we end up with a more full and qualified “….higher, I believe than any driver is currently receiving or will receive next year”.

His latest statement is retrospective and would suggest even Lewis under his new Mercedes contract is not receiving as much as McLaren offered. These are very, very bold claims considering if we believe the Ron Dennis assertions in Hungary that Lewis was going to have to take a pay cut and the subsequent reported offers of this offer was a contract renewal down from £15m to £10m. Of course McLaren reputedly upped the offer at the 11th hour when it was obviously too late.

Corroborating evidence makes the textual critic’s life a lot easier and – oh joy – we have Ross Brawn’s take on the matter of Lewis and finance,

“Lewis didn’t come here because we offered more money – because we didn’t,” Brawn told Sky TV. He continues, “As far as I am aware, [we] didn’t offer any more than McLaren from a financial point of view. There may be some more freedoms on the branding or imaging side, but that is the kind of freedom our drivers had already – we are not changing what we are offering in that respect.”

So as the Mercedes offered was similar but the freedom of commercial sponsorship they allow has an estimated worth of around £10m, by comparison Beckham earned £13m from sponsorship last year, both he and Lewis have the same agent – XIX.

Yet, the plot thickens.

Last night Norbert Haug, Director of motorsport for Mercedes Benz (Inc F1, DTM, F3) decided to bear his soul over the matter of Lewis and finance, and for his revelation we are dutifully grateful.

“Lewis is not a new guy for us. We learnt [all about] Lewis via our partner McLaren. We financed him 50/50 with McLaren in his junior career. In Formula 3 Lewis won 15 of his 20 races [in the 2005 Euro Series], all with Mercedes engines.”

More interestingly Haug goes on to say, “All his Formula 1 victories were with Mercedes engines. And we have been paying for his retainer with McLaren.” (Autosport)

Presumably this retainer is now being made by Mercedes Benz to Lewis via their works team which I guess reduces the amount from the AMG F1 team budget they have been paying Schumacher.

Therefore, Martin’s cleverly constructed phrase could read, “The offer we made [AS AN F1 TEAM ALONE OF OTHER SOURCES OF FINANCE i.e. sponsor and engine supplier subsidies] was higher I believe than any other driver in Formula 1 is currently receiving or will receive next year [FROM ANY OTHER F1 TEAM EXCLUDING ALL OTHER SOURCES OF REMUNERATION].”

PROBLEM SOLVED!

But what about Alonso I hear you say? Ferrari reputedly signed Fernando on a £25m a year deal and had last year improved the initial terms together with a contract extension for 5 more years to 2016. The improved arrangement was reported at £30m a year. Ferrari has just reported record profits and I suspect their arrangement with Alonso is not via cash from various sources stuffed in a brown paper bag.

The puzzle then remains. How can Martin Whitmarsh claim “The offer that we made was higher I believe than any driver in Formula 1…”?

Oh well. Textual and literary criticism has failed me. I can’t square the circle of the Whitmarsh repeated mantra. I guess I’ll just slope off and make a cup of Lapsang Souchong and read a little……

……Eureka! On a shelf near the kettle is my prized collection of early 20th century editions – hard back, gilt edged books – that make up the complete works of William Shakespeare.

In a flash I realise the secret to Whitmarsh carefully worded statements is to be found within the writings of the English institution that is “The Bard”. ‘Methinks’ that Shakespeare’s often misquoted line from Hamlet is what provides us with the solution to our conundrum. “The lady doth protest too muchmethinks.”

For those not schooled in Shakespeare, non-anglicised readers and also for all those in the UK who dropped out of school never getting to the compulsory Shakespeare study module – Wikipedia explains his life observation in true efficient 21st century style thus,

“The phrase’s actual meaning implies the increasing likelihood of suppressed feelings for the contrary of that which is being argued. I.e., the more passionate and fervent the argument, the greater likelihood the cause is a suppression of belief for the contrary argument, and the subsequent confirmation that it is the (actual) truer statement. (Wikipedia

I think that means someone who says the same thing too much is trying to persuade themself that what they are repeating is in fact the truth, when actually deep inside they know this not to be the case.

So for Whitmarsh the persistent comments demonstrate to him at least the Lewis Hamilton saga was indeed all about the money and he has constructed a form of words to convince himself and us of this truism, ‘We made a financial offer which is better than anyone in Formula One…..”.

Yet is this really the truth?

The bigger picture may suggest something quite other.

Please comment and enter the debate – whether you agree or not.

Follow me on twitter (box to click in right hand column) if you are part of the twittersphere and retweet our tweets that show a new article has been written, it helps spread the word – if you are not twittered up you can click on the button at the top right of the page to receive an email when (and only when) a new article hits the net.

~ by thejudge13 on October 3, 2012.

32 Responses to “Whitmarsh: It was all about the money”

  1. His comment possibly also ties into the McLaren ‘bonuses’ rumoured to be up for offer for race wins and championships. “If Lewis had stayed (and won lots of stuff), we’d have probably paid him more than Mercedes publicly offered”.

    • Agreed – but I hope I portrayed the fact that its all if’s, but’s, maybe’s and what I forgot to point out in the article was the use of “I believe” by both Brawn and Whitmarsh – alarm bells go off in my head as soon as I hear that.

  2. So, if I am reading you correctly, and according to Shakespeare, he’s lying?

    I told you the other day on your lauda thread, that Mercedes have always paid Lewis. I even went as far as to mention, maybe that’s why brawn can say his offer was lower, as he took out Mercedes retainer. You also have to remember Lewis’s last deal was incremental. So this year, he actually earns 25m, and the first year worth only 4m. I don’t doubt that there was some word sharpery involved, but he’s not a liar, he just isn’t.

    Lewis went to Mercedes after the initial offer, Ron Dennis started playing bad cop and it backfired. Then mclaren upped their offer (not once mind) significantly, and offered him more than he was receiving now, today, in the end.

    Sometimes, you should delve a bit deeper into drivers contracts, for Lewis was paid the same as alonso this year. 75m over 5 years averages 15m a season, but it wasn’t made up that way.

    This will all come out in the wash. We’ve lost a great talent at mclaren. I read a blog, I think James Allen, last night, and he’s believes, as I do, that Lewis was sold Mercedes as a package, not the money. He’s a racer, we all know that.

  3. So, if I am reading you correctly, and according to Shakespeare, he’s lying?

    I told you the other day on your lauda thread, that Mercedes have always paid Lewis. I even went as far as to mention, maybe that’s why brawn can say his offer was lower, as he took out Mercedes retainer. You also have to remember Lewis’s last deal was incremental. So this year, he actually earns 25m, and the first year worth only 4m. I don’t doubt that there was some word sharpery involved, but he’s not a liar, he just isn’t.

    Lewis went to Mercedes after the initial offer, Ron Dennis started playing bad cop and it backfired. Then mclaren upped their offer (not once mind) significantly, and offered him more than he was receiving now, today, in the end.

    Sometimes, you should delve a bit deeper into drivers contracts, for Lewis was paid the same as alonso this year. 75m over 5 years averages 15m a season, but it wasn’t made up that way.

    This will all come out in the wash. We’ve lost a great talent at mclaren. I read a blog, I think James Allen, last night, and he’s believes, as I do, that Lewis was sold Mercedes as a package, not the money. He’s a racer, we all know that.

  4. Just to reiterate, the 75m was spread over 5 years, started low, and increased year on year. This year, Hamilton earned 25m in salary alone.

    As I said, the truth will come out, it always does. Hamilton initiated the discussions as they did offer 10m, but then, it went to 15, then to 25m, hence the statement whitmarsh made.

  5. …sorry, I forgot this part. Look at this logically. The reason he keeps saying these words, is because he keeps being asked about it. What’s he supposed to say? No comment? I’m lying? I don’t want to answer that question anymore? He was asked about the amount offered and he tendered answers. That’s what he’s supposed to do.

    You normally think things through more, so this is a bit of a silly post

    • Almost was on €25m, not £25m. Lewis this year was on £25m. Make of that what you want, but that is a fact

    • Not true, he was asked yesterday did he have any regrets – he volunteered as part of his answer the “offerd more money…..” line – again….

      • Journalist:
        “Do you have any regrets”
        Whitmarsh:
        “We had a lot of conversations with Lewis’s management team. I don’t think I have any particular regrets. We made a very good and serious offer and weren’t able to agree terms.”

        No mention at all about money.

        The thing is, you can sit and suppose what the meanings of peoples words are, and I guess that is why you are writing the blog, but if you are continually asked, over and over again, could you have offered more money?, Do you regret not making extra efforts to keep Hamilton, then you have to put forward the reasons why you couldn’t have done anything else, and one of those things was obviously money, obviously. You can’t query a man’s integrity, one whom I know has it in abundance, just because he is answer the same question, with the same answer over and over again.

        By the way, the words ‘the lady doth protest too much, methinks’ is a little more obtuse than someone saying something ad nauseum to try and mask their lies. The Queen, Gertrude, states that the play’s Queen affirms so much as to lose credibility. Her vows are too elaborate. Whitmarsh has not really deviated from saying the same thng, when questioned. It’s pretty bad to call into account someones integrity, credibility over this, as, simply put, yuo don’t know, so it’s a big call to do it.

        Hamilton earned over €30m this year, plus endorsements (Reebok). Mclaren have said they increased this offer. Maybe it was incremental, I don’t know. As I said, this will all come out in the wash once Hamilton has moved, for he will put the record straight, of that I am sure. Watch out for his second book ;)

  6. No it was 1:1, I have a house in France and can assure you, the most it got down to was 1.12. This year, we had it at 1.29 to the pound, so this year, Hamilton earned €33m which was much more than alonso.

    He said yesterday that he had no regrets, that he went as far as they could go. He never once said he offered more. He also said, it was Lewis’s choice and he didn’t want to stay.

    You have to quote more, rather than suppose and guess.

    • *wasn’t 1:1 last year.

      • I got 1:1.05 when I went to Jerez for testing

      • The least I got, and I go out 3, 4 times a year, was 1.12. If you buy at the airport, of get it from the bank, you’ll be taken for a ride, so 1.05 doesn’t surprise me, but it will not be the rate Hamilton gets, it will be a direct exchange at the rate on the day. I have a French account and you get the genuine rate if you transfer between the two. Please also note, he lives in Monaco. This year, his final year, he was paid £25m. Since the start of the season, it has been above 1.20 as an offical rate, 1.22 in May, and 1.29 in July/August. So he’s been paid over €30m all year, more if you want to take it at 1.29.

        He was the highest paid driver on the grid this year, Whitmarsh alluded to that in his very first statement, because he knew about the incremental deal Hamilton has. I do not know, yet, how much Merceedes paud towards his retainer, but it’s not the 50/50 it was pre his F1 career. Remember too, that Haug is also being slightly disingenious as they were shareholders in Mclaren up until the 2012 season, so obviously they would have paid part of his retainer. Sometimes you have to look a bit deeper into the statments being made on all sides.

  7. As an addendum, in May were were offered 1.21 online with the post office, or 1.15 in branch (the kids wanted to exchange some of their money), and we got it at 1.23 intra bank. That’s a variance of around 7%. Lots of money if you’re talking big figures.

    I know this, by the way, as I bought our house a couple of years ago when it was actually 1.07, so I lost out, if you compare it to today, to the tune of around £40,000. These kind of things stay in the head ;)

  8. I think you’re going a bit far in implying that Whitmarsh isn’t being entirely a droit with the old actualite, but on the other hand, the ‘the lady doth protest too much’ is spot on.
    While it may well be true that McLaren’s final offer was a veritable helmetful of doubloons, if Hamilton was being paid £25m this year, and was initially offered £10m, that was a very strong statement indeed about how much they wanted him.
    I think Whitmarsh (and/or Dennis maybe ?) miscalculated badly in judging how that offer would be received, and he’s feeling more than a little embarrassed about it. Hence the protestations of generosity – however qualified.

    • Fair comment, I wasn’t really trying to say he’s telling bare faced porkies- hence why I resorted to the Bard – more trying to convince himself and us they did all they could. It just smacks of a very defensive attitude to me.

      • The Bard comment, was more about the irony of the queen, not understanding the play was a paraody of herself. But I digress.

        I read yesterday, that the very reason Hamilton did speak to Mercedes was for the very reason they only offered him £10m as a first bite, and then RD stepped in saying firstly, the world has changed, and secondly, he works for us. I am 100% sure that is why Hamilton then went walkies to the other teams, specifically Mercedes. I believe, however, that this wasn’t to show him the door (this is how little we think of you), it was a gamble, that backfired, some would say spectacularly.

        Hamilton IS being paid £25m this year, as the contract he signed in 2008, was incremental, based on the fact he could have been off loaded on the cheapish, were 2007 a flash in the pan. He was paid £5 in 2008.

        Mclaren then realised, whoops, we read that wrong, and upped the ante offering him the same money that he was on (not the £15m reported, but the £25m), and it’s from there, we have got here, for by that time, he’ been sold the vision.

        You are right that Hamilton kept Mercedes in F1, 100%, for they were going to leave. However, they rate Hamilton that highly, as do Mclaren incidentally, that they signed an 8 year agreement to stay.

        I would put my last pound, that Bernie was also involved in the money side, and I would also put money on Mercedes share of the moolah has increased on them staying in. Something in the gut tells me Bernie is directly involved somewhere along the lines here.

        Very, very intersting times, and they get more interesting, day by day. The end of season will see a lot of info ‘leaked’, I am convinced.

    • “I believe, however, that this wasn’t to show him the door (this is how little we think of you), it was a gamble, that backfired, some would say spectacularly.”

      I agree with you. But they really ought to have realised that this was the message that would be received.
      My impression is that F1 driver’s egos can be brittle things. When you believe you’re the best in the world, or thereabouts, the offer of a large paycut, from a team management you’ve become a little estranged from, is unlikely to come across as a mere negotiating tactic.
      Moreover, if you’re prepared to eventually offer as much as £25m, an initial offer of £10m to a guy who has just signed on with a new agent, keen to prove it was the right decision, is just going to make you look stupid.

      • Couldn’t agree more. I think they were relying on the history they have together, mistakes he has made, the winning car he has and the, I believe, losses we’re making elsewhere. I truly believe they thought they could get him for £15m (which averaging it out is what he was on) and that this was just an opening gambit.

        I think now we’re seeing the ructions from it failing, and more will follow. MW doesn’t have carte blanche on these things, and ultimately, RD would have had a hand in the final sums being offered, as the sponsors will be shouting at RD, not MW.

  9. So basically, Lewis has been driving for Mercedes since 2007.. Just not in the Works car! Simple really.

    • In F1, absolutely. In total 14 years.

      • It’s a little disingenious to say that. Mercedes have been Mclarens partners for a long time, equity partners, so of course, it means they have been paying for him. However, this year they haven’t, as they’ve sold all of their holding in Mclaren by 2011.

        It’s only as they owned part of Mclaren, that they paid.

        Mclaren only spoke to Hamilton in 1998, not Mercedes Judge. He had a Renault engine behind him in 2000/01/02 and 2003. Now, in 2004, he signed for Mclaren, which is when the Mercedes money came in. So, effectively, he’s been funded by Mercedes for 7 years.

        The only way Mercedes can logically claim thay are paying some kind of retainer for Hamilton this year, is tenuously through the fact the Merc engines are free for Mclaren.

      • No, not 8 years, as that would include this year, and they don’t, unless you, as I said, think the tenuous ‘not paying for their engines’ is in a way helping pay a retainer for Lewis, and if you say that, then you can say the same for Vettel and Renault.

        Remember too, if you think that I am right, about them paying as they are equity stakeholders, or were, then yuo also have to conclude they have paid Button a retainer since 2009 too.

        It is only 7, and also, at various amounts.

  10. One thing you may, or may not know, is that Mercedes tried to buy Mclaren in 2006 and onwards. The sole reason they fell out, was because Mclaren refused to sell them the company, as Mercedes wanted a blue riband supercar company/division: think Bugatti, think Lamboghini.

    When RD finally said no, we are not giving you 51% of Mclaren, Mercedes threatened to make their own supercar (SLS) to rival the upcoming MP4/12C as a shot across the bows. Mclaren still refused, so Mercedes terminated the agreement, and bought Brawn. Were Ron Dennis not so commited to Mclaren, the road car story, Brawn would be no more, and Mclaren would literally be owned by Mercedes and it would be the defacto works team.

    There is a lot more to that story, but that is effectively the bones of it.

    Mercedes wanted Mclaren. Now, there is a direct bitterness between them, hence the F1 team, hence the new cars coming out of Stuttgart, and the ones planned, which are all directed at the segments Mclaren have targetted.

    You really do not know how pleased the Mercedes board will be to have prised their (Mclaren) crown jewel from their control.

    • I find your posts fascinating. Was there any truth in the rumours that Mercedes bought Brawn because of the Spygate scandal.
      From what I remember hearing, the board was not happy being associated with “cheats” and that $100,000,000 fine was paid in part by Mercedes?
      Or did Spygate force them to look to buying Mclaren but Ron refused?

      I also find it ironic, that Ron has set Mclaren up to go after Ferrari, yet Mercedes who have never competed against Ferrari in road car terms is willing to target Mclaren.

      • over to the hairy one – his specialist subject

      • Mercedes always wanted to buy Mclaren to be their Ferrari, to Audi’s Lamborghini, etc. They only bought Brawn, as RD refused to sell a controlling stake in Mclaren. All of the cars coming out of Woking, will be matched with a model from Stuttgart. We’re releasing a 911 sub supercar segment model, Mercedes will do the same. The only car they haven’t met, yet, is the P1, which is Project 12. There are further projects inside Mclaren, that mercedes will match. Spygate did nothing really, it wasn’t a political hot shoe for Merc at all. They simply wanted Mclaren

        It will all come out in the wash eventually. But you will see a 911 model from Mclaren and Merc shortly. They are now at each others throats commercially.

      • At the end of the day, Merc had 40%, and wanted 51%. RD and his partners refused, and Mercedes, knowing the road car division aspirations and plans of RD (this was as far back as 2005/6), literaly threatened to go into competition with them (at the time, they had the AMG models solely based on saloon). By the time the brown stuff really did hit the fan, I think 2009, spygate was long gone, but then Brawn won teh WDC and Mercedes thought, right, we’re out. They negotiated a buy back scheme for Mclaren and their shares (Mclaren didn’t, and don’t, have the money to buy them outright in 2009) and have now set themselves up in competition. The thing is, Mclaren would have stayed Mclaren, but owned by Mercedes, and I think for RD, this was unpalatable.

        But now, he’s up against a marque determined to best him, them. That’s why there were partys at Stuttgart when they got Hamilton. He’s the prize really. As much as I have posted here, Mclaren tried their hardest to keep him and really didn’t understand the depth of his upset. It really does make for an interesting time now.

      • On thing I think I didnt add: Brawn became available at about the perfect time for Mercedes in their spat with Mclaren, as it gave them a relatively cheap entry into F1 with a very established set up, several main players in position and allowed them to attack Mclaren on both fronts: commercially and sporting.

        Hamilton is the icing on the cake.

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