Lewis had no choice. He was pushed.

The inevitable has happened! Nope, not Eddie Jordan being right again as he was 3 years ago when he called Schumacher’s return  – the inevitable is the angle of the stories which abound about Lewis Hamilton in the mainstream media.

“Hamilton is taking a big risk” (David Croft, Sky website).

Joe Saward, much respected long standing F1 writer says in his blog, “it will be a leap of great faith [Lewis has] in the German-owned operation, but may be a decision that the British youngster will one day regret”.

Martin Brundle tweets, “Statistics +gut feeling say Lewis has taken a big gamble”.

I could go on. These stories are the natural evolution from the stories written following the leak that Hamilton was in negotiations with Mercedes. The general themes of those articles back then were …that it was illogical to leave McLaren for Mercedes…surely Lewis would stay with a proven race winning team rather than take a risk…it’s all just negotiating rumours…it’s not about money.

Again, I could go on. Yet as I wrote last week (again getting lots of stick) I heard that Lewis was being pushed by McLaren. Of course no one was saying telling Lewis to “do one”, but the writing was on the wall in giant red letters 10m high.

Let’s also forget the “I heard” something (as I suggested in the last article) and look only into the scattered tea leaves.

Ron Dennis told Sky TV in Canada that Lewis would not be getting as lucrative contract as last time due to the world economic situation. He also said in another interview the week before the summer break, “…some people get the wrong idea…when I last looked at the contract – I was paying him. It’s a question of whether we employ him, not the other way around”.

Of course most people dismissed this as big Ron playing hardball, but I watched back the Sky interview and Dennis was not amiable in the slightest, in fact he it appeared to me he was positively agitating for confrontation.

Lewis when questioned about RD’s comments said, “it has nothing to do with me what he {Dennis] says, Martin is my boss“. Not that smart an answer when Martin’s boss is Ron.

I don’t intend to just regurgitate what I wrote last week, the link is at the bottom, but there were further signs that the relationship between the team and their driver were at breaking point.

Blegium: Twittergate – an outburst from Lewis toward those in his side of the garage who had opted for the rear wing other than the one Jenson had out qualified him on by over 0.5s.

Monza: I was stood under the podium in Monza and Lewis’ muted celebrations following his race win were bizarre and in the melee around me some bloke shouted, “Lewis – you miserable b$%^$rd – lost a tenner and found ten bob?” He was wearing a McLaren shirt.

[translation for non-uk audience: ‘lost 10 dollars and found 50 cents?’ – not adjusted for exchange rate].

I later saw on TV the shot of the McLaren garage during the presentation. Muted would be an understatement.

Interestingly, following the McLaren front row lock out in Monza qualifying Jenson was out with his side of the garage buying them Pizza and Lewis tweeted Jenson’s order from a nearby table where he was sat with just a couple of close friends.

In reality the relationship between Lewis and the team had already irreversibly broken down. When you look at the monetary values on offer to contract Lewis, we don’t know the exact detail, but it is widely believed McLaren’s initial offer was that Lewis take a 1/3 pay cut and no incremental sponsors.

So are McLaren in need of a cost cutting drive? As a group, they have received $500m investment from a Middle Eastern capital fund, and these McLaren shareholders are often around at race weekends. Is it really credible that if they needed a couple of million a year to keep Lewis they couldn’t persuade their partners to cough up? Mmm.

And then the final straw, Perez is signed within an hour of McLaren announcing Lewis is leaving. Wow, that’s a speedy result…out with the old, in with the new. (Interestingly Perez possibly brings Telmex as a sponsor and it has been widely rumoured Vodafone are pulling out next year – another tidy problem solved).

Though on the whole this year pre-Belgium Lewis has been sweetness and light, but the damage was done last year. The McLaren hierarchy had grown weary of the “pantomime of life with Lewis” (James Allen)

In the end it was in fact all about money, just not the way everyone thinks. McLaren have used a nigh on insulting new contract monetary offer to send a message to Lewis – to give him a push.

It’s not the kind of push that sends you off a cliff – more a kind of school yard shoulder nudge that catches you off balance and for a while you’re not sure which way is up and which way is down. And that we’ll only know in time – up or down.

Last Weeks Article: Lewis being pushed?

28 responses to “Lewis had no choice. He was pushed.

  1. I like this analysis. It chimes more with my opinions about Ron Dennis’ ruthless nature as one of the most prominent ‘Pirannah club’ members. It also takes into consideration the fact that no driver is bigger than the team – even Schumacher at Ferrari deferred to ‘the team’ as being the primary focus – something which people (the UK press?) have seemingly been unable to do with Lewis throughout his career.
    Personally, I wish him all the best. As a fanatical tifosi I see this as a move from ‘the enemy’ to a more neutral team and certainly less of a threat to my guys, but I recognise in Lewis one of the most naturally talented drivers I have seen in 20+ years of following F1 and hope that in a less stifling environment his talent can be allowed to develop further. Just look at how much better Alonso has become since joining Ferrari for a parallell; he was about the same age as Lewis when he joined and he has gone from a great driver to one of the greatest ever once he had the right environment to grow. I think that if anyone can do the same for Lewis it is Ross Brawn. He’s got form for sure in that department.

    • I love watching Lewis drive and it would be great to see Mercedes compete with the top 3 teams. People forget 8 of the last 20 titles have been won with a Brawn team, 8 by a Newey car… and Mercedes have done a lot of key personnel recruitment this year. I’ve been hearing today that Mercedes as a company only committed 3 more years finance to the F1 team subject to them signing Lewis. Otherwise it was likely the team would have reverted to an independent again prob called AMG F1.

  2. You really are a bit of a fool. Mclaren have sold a fundamental part of their road car division, and it is hemorrhaging money, and sales targets are not being hit. That’s the investment they have received, by selling an equity stake in their road car division. They have to pay for their engines next year, and their title sponsor is leaving. Mclaren need to pull some rabbits out of their hat. Now, Whitmarsh has confirmed, that not only did they up their offer, they offered to make him the highest paid driver on the grid (“I know we made a very big financial offer, bigger than I believe any Formula 1 driver is enjoying today, other than himself,”), so this debunks most of your blog entry.

    This was Lewis making the move, instigating the move to Mercedes (early in the year by the way), because the relationship had deteriorated (the only thing correct in your blog). Ron Dennis isn’t used to not getting his way, and his petulant behaviour was down to knowing he’d lost the fastest driver on the grid. Mercedes and Hamilton win here, imo.

    Now about Perez. Mclaren lose their title sponsor this year (widely reported), and what does Perez come with? That’s right, he’s bankrolled by billionaire owner of Telmex. Care to ponder who becomes the new title sponsor of Mclaren? I would have thought half the non factory teams would have offered Perez a seat. The fact Ferrari didn’t want him speaks volumes about what they think of him.

    Very, very poor effort.

    • Thanks for the post but I’m not sure you’ve read it properly.

      I didn’t say the team had received $500m, I said it was the McLaren group ie inc the road car division, as to the profitability of the car division – I’m not aware of the numbers. Point being they have access to some very deep pockets IF – and I didn’t say they were – short of cash.

      Further, the totality of the Mercedes offer is stratospheric in its excess over McLaren’s – £9m more basic ()after McLaren upped their offer) plus race win bonuses in excess of £500,000 per race and Hamilton will easily make an extra £4m a year in incremental sponsorship. Over £21m more in 3 years. Martin Whitmarsh’s comments are those of a man whose future may also be in jeopardy.

      I heard both Martin Brundle and Ted Kravitz comment today that they believed McLaren could have pulled out more cash if they’d really wanted Lewis to stay – and as I said in my first article people inside the team I spoke to last year were tearing their hear out over Lewis’ behaviour.

      I also made the point about Perez and Telmex and made that connection obvious in the article.

      And as to the inference that Perez is only in F1 because of his backing – he is already far more experienced than Hamilton was when McLaren put him in an F1 car for the first time.

      • I have to answer to your reply, as there is no base to it.

        Mclaren targeted selling 1000 MP4/12C’s in the first year, leading to sales of 4000 cars a year. Last year, they sold 280, and several were returned. Trust me on this, for without giving the game away, I ‘know’ about this. Mclaren have fubar’d here, and over the past month, they have tried everything in their control to keep Hamilton.

        This is very bad for us.

        Any company in the world has access to deep pockets, if they are willing to sell an equity stake in the company. That is what has happened here. In order to develop the new factory, an equity share has been sold. If the sales of the cars doesn’t improve, then we’re in trouble, as the underpinning of Mclaren is dependent on it.

        Whitmarsh has publically stated, that they tried everything in their power, including making him the highest paid driver on the grid, to get Lewis to stay. The reason his job is in peril, is that he didn’t keep hold of Lewis and the sponsors are not best pleased, for they under the commercial realities of losing the most marketable man on the grid, especially in key areas, like the States, for instance. The sponsors all gathered at Monza as a show of force to Hamilton, and Mclaren, that they wanted to keep him.

        Stating Perez is already more experienced in F1 than Hamilton was, is a nonsensical quote, for everyone on the grid is more experienced as Hamilton was, as Hamilton was a rookie. However, he was known to Mclaren for the previous 9 years, and had won multiple formulas, dominantly, under their tutelage; they knew how good he was, they don’t know how good Perez is. The Jury is still out. Perez is there, and I know this (watch the title sponsor change) as he has access, himself, to a Mexican billionaire, who not only bankrolls him, but owns South Americas largest Telco. These are all facts. You are listing opinions of people like Brundle, and others, I am listing facts, and quotes.

        Perez has not set the world alight this year, he’s simply done well. That is an opinion. Can you see the difference and as good as Button is, he is not as quick as Hamilton is, and if next years’ car follows the MP4/24 and 25, Button is not going to get it to win. Nor is Perez.

        • The premise of the article is not a new thing – I don’t know how long you’ve been following F1. Williams binned Hill the very next season after he became world champion.

      • The premise of the argument, is that Hamilton waas forced out. However, as I have indicated, it’s incorrect: Mclaren team Principle, Whitmarsh, indicated they tried everything possible, including making him the highest paid driver on the grid, to keep him, but that in the end, he decided to go to Mercedes. Niki Lauda has gone on record to say he sold Hamilton the vision of what he could achieve at Mercedes. Ross Brwn has indicated the money was not a factor.

        How can you come to your conclusion, he was pushed out when everyone involved in the deal, has views contrary to it?

        As for Damon Hill, Williams binned him as the 95 Williams should ahve won the championship and didn’t. Frank Williams said he lost faith in him as a driver, and has sicne publically mentioned that he regretted letting him go. You cannot compare the two of them, as Hamilton was not binned, like Hill, and, as I have proven, Mclaren have openly said they wanted to keep him, and did everything in their commercial power to do so.

        I have watched F1 since 1973, and have seen a lot of political manouevring go wrong. That’s what hapened here.

        The premise of your article is wrong.

    • I agree with your analysis of the Perez signing. Huge gamble especially if he and JB do not deliver immediately. RD is not a patient man and heads will roll.

  3. Something’s still not being said and I don’t think we will find out till end of the year. Mclaren had the chance to sign Hamilton to a new contract last year, just like they did with Button who still had another year left to run. I feel Mclaren got fed up of Ham after everything last year and Ham got fed up with the team this year. If you look at Ham and But in 2010 they had this happy best buds going now, now it seems neither want other one around. Being a Mclaren fan, I’m not looking forward to the fireworks that i expect for the next six races.

    • Agreed. Could be very interesting to see what happens in the next 6 races. Of course you would expect a driver with some chance of winning the WDC to still bust a gut, but Lewis has been with McLaren more than half his life, and how he’ll deal with the emotional aspect of the reality that he is definitely leaving the team – who knows.

  4. LH’s move to Mercedes will affect Martin Whitmarsh the most. Martin played politics with Lewis and Jenson long enough and now his own career is in danger. His stay at McLaren will now depend on the erratic performance of JB alone. Perez is a long-term investment and Ron may already be planning other things without Whitmarsh in mind. I believe Whitmarsh will also leave McLaren within the next 6 months and when that happens JB will become the McLaren Massa – mark my words!

    • Couldn’t agree more. Think Martin is being hung out to dry being given task of retaining Lewis whilst not being allowed to let him have more sponsors and less money. Maybe he’ll get one more year though. You could imagine Ron is itching to be back on the pit wall.

      • I have to pick you up on something here. In the article, you state you think Mclaren forced him (HAM) out, but here you now say he’s (WHIT) going to be hung out to dry as he hasn’t retained Hamilton. It’s at odds with what you’ve said?

      • You say that, yet Whitmarsh was given as much money, that was needed to make Hamilton the best paid driver on the grid. That’s quite a bit more than a pile of stones now, isn’t it. I’d say, myself, that its being given, the bricks, the mortar and a bricklayer. No?

        • One of his less convincing claims – subject to… subject to…

          Further, a rather hollow claim when it’s truth would only be dependent on Hamilton not going to Mercedes where he is reportedly (inc multiple sponsors – and his own trophys) now up to £10m a year better off.

      • There were no qualifying comments at all, and I have actually quoted him: We offered to make Lewis the highest paid driver on the grid, but two people have to agree for a deal to go through, and Lewis didn’t.

        Please, if you are going to make a claim, back it up with quotes, or a linked source, simply saying things happened don’t make it the truth.

        • He said “I believe we didn’t offer any more” – not exactly an absolute assurance – and that related to Lewis £15m a a year existing contract, not the £10m (plus the bit extra offered in the last week) offer McLaren made for a renewal.

          Incremental sponsors McLaren don’t allow £4-7m per annum

      • No, that’s incorrect again. Whitmarsh is quoted at saying ‘We offered to make Hamilton the highest paid driver on the grid’. As the grid includes Alonso, reputedly on over £20m a year, that;’s a significantly higher amount than the alleged £11.5m + sponsors and win bonuses. No?

  5. I hate to say it but in this case RD is right. Racing-wise, Hamilton underachieved since his maiden F1 GP in 2007. To my account he should have bagged three WC for the team…he just got one thanks to Ferrari’s poor pitwork. You may say Hamilton have provided a brand to advertise McLaren operations and sponsors, but I think as a racing team, the fastest kid on the block didn’t deliver the goods. There are several very good young drivers that can make a very good job for Macca, at a lower cost… I wonder what RD thinks now about his decision to back Hamilton as the new brit hero in 2007 at the expense of the most recent WC, the one who dreamed as a kid to become a McLaren champion driver…

    • Yeah, interesting call. What if Alonso was in a McLaren this year? Lewis is probably the quickest driver, but he’s a long way from the complete driver. I would cut him some slack in his rookie year, but 2 WDC’s should have been possible. He’s been in F1 for 6 years now – at times we forget – and he is too irratic.

      • If Alonso was in a McLaren this year, would the early season pitstops have been any faster? I doubt…

      • It’s a good point, but also, would the gearbox have lasted longer? Would the team have remembered to put enough gas in the car at Barcelona? Etc, etc, etc…

    • Are you serious, Hamilton has under achieved since his maiden GP? Did I actually read that correctly? 1 point, is his maiden season away from becomming the youngest ever WDC, and a rookie to boot, performing, at least, on a par with a 2 times WDC? Then in 2008, he won a WDC, this is underachieving? Well, lets just say I am glad you’re not my employer, for you appear to want the moon on a stick.

      Now, you conveniently forget, that in 2009, they went against the Brawn, which was 2 seconds a lap quicker, on it’s maiden run. No one could touch the Brawns, then RBR got their act together. No one could touch the Brawn in 2009.

      So in the 3 years (2007/2008/2009), one cannot say he underperformed at all. It would be insane to think that is underachieving.

      He then had a WDC as his team mate from 2010 to 2012. Now, remind me, what has he won at Mclaren?

      2010 and 2011 were against the RBR which is considered to have been the quickest F1 car there has been. In 2010, Hamilton was in with a sniff until the last GP, in an inferior car.

      2011, Hamilton had a bad year. I will give you that, but the car was not the best.

      2012. Would you agree, that were it not for operational problems, Hamilton would be way ahead of the field?

      What has Alonso won, having the richest team at his beck and call, and undisputed #1 status, since he started at Marenello? Where did the very best driver in the world finish when paired with a rookie?

      It seems here, you are so hell bent on bad mouthing Hamilton, that you’re letting it cloud your opinion. in 6 years, he’s underperformed once. I’d take that.

      I am starting to wonder if there is a different agenda here, as none of your points can be backed up logically, or factually.

      • Sorry, as an adendum, do you recall the 2010 Turkish GP, when the RBR6 (I think) was able to take Turn 8 flat, the only car on the grid capable of it. Brundle noted it, on that corner alone, gained Vettel and Webber 0.5 seconds. It was a ridiculously quick car. Yet still it went to the final GP. In 2011, Hamiltons worst year, did Button, a defacto WDC remember take it to the RBR’s? No, he didn’t, and was a distant 2nd at the end.

        Please argue the facts, and not the man.

        He had no chance in 2009/2010 and 2011 and in 2012, the only time he’s had a genuinely quick car, at times the quikest car, he would be a country mile in the lead, were it not for operational problems in his team and poor reliability.

        It will be interesting to see if Mclaren allow him the chance to win this years WDC, or if they put it all behind Button now. Button should be closer to Hamilton at Fuji, but if he’s in front…

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