Hamilton's future keeping F1 rumour-mongers busy
It has been a very quiet summer for the Formula 1 world, without too many wild stories kicking about. This is probably because the people who are really involved in the sport have all been on holiday, and so there has been nothing for the rumour-mongers to get their teeth into. Joe Saward writes.Updated: Sep 01, 2012 00:16 IST
It has been a very quiet summer for the Formula 1 world, without too many wild stories kicking about. This is probably because the people who are really involved in the sport have all been on holiday, and so there has been nothing for the rumour-mongers to get their teeth into.
As the circus winds up again and heads for Spa, the talk seems to be focused on Lewis Hamilton and what he is going to do in the future.
Hamilton's contract with McLaren runs out at the end of this season and he has a bit of a problem: McLaren does not want to pay him as much as he thinks he is worth and he does not really have any viable alternatives, without taking a huge risk.
Drivers at the top end of F1 have very limited choices when it comes to moving from team to team.
When you are at the top, the only way is down and so the skill is to stay on top, while at the same time making a fortune.
In order to do that one has to be in demand and while there are teams that would like to have Hamilton, none of the teams that Hamilton wants to drive for have vacancies. Red Bull Racing, Ferrari and McLaren are really his only choices.
The primary problem for Hamilton is that he does not have any leverage to make McLaren pay him what he thinks he is worth.
He cannot move to Red Bull Racing and Ferrari is also closed to him unless the team management there wants to take an enormous risk and put Alonso and
Hamilton together again. When McLaren tried that in 2007 it was a disaster. When you look around at the options available to Ferrari, you come to the conclusion that it might be better to leave Felipe Massa where he is and encourage him to do better, rather than dumping him and hoping that someone else will do a better job.
The least common species in F1 is the good number two driver, because all the youngsters think they are number ones and few of them recognize that one can make far more money as number two…
Beyond the big 3
Hamilton might consider a move to Mercedes if Michael Schumacher decides to retire, but there is no sign that he is going to do that, despite his advancing years.
Let us not forget that for Mercedes-Benz the purpose of F1 is not to win races, but rather to sell cars. Michael does that without winning. If he wins that will be a nice little bonus for the Stuttgart-based company
Lotus might also seem to be quite an attractive idea for Hamilton, but the team has far less money than McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari, and the glitter will fade fast if next year's car is not very good.
At the moment Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean seem to be doing a decent job, although neither has yet won a race, even though they have come close
When you boil it all down, Lewis Hamilton needs McLaren and McLaren needs Lewis Hamilton - and that has to be the basis of a new deal.
There are always ways to solve arguments over money…
The writer has covered every grand prix for the last 25 years