Lewis Hamilton moves to Mercedes
4 October 2012
So it’s two to Eddie Jordan, nil to me. Just as I was wrong in not thinking Michael Schumacher would return to F1 in 2010 (as EJ did), I was also wrong in thinking Hamilton would not move to Mercedes (again, as EJ did).
I based my Hamilton judgement on the basis that, over the course of the past three seasons, McLaren have been far more competitive than Mercedes and that Hamilton would want to drive for the team that would give him the best opportunity of winning races & championships. I thought that team would be McLaren; Hamilton thinks it’ll be Mercedes.
When the announcement was made my initial reaction was that Mercedes must have offered more money than McLaren. Ross Brawn has since said that wasn’t the case. Hamilton moved to Mercedes because he feels they offer him the best opportunity to win races in the next few years. Whether that is the case will only be apparent after the next few years. If Mercedes are winning regularly by 2014/15, then his decision will be seen as a masterstroke. If they’re not (and McLaren are) then chins will be rubbed sagely and armchair experts will talk about Hamilton’s great mistake.
There’s something else at play here that hadn’t occurred to me before: Hamilton’s need to move from McLaren in order to develop as a driver (and, by extension, a person). Damon Hill has described Hamilton as being ‘caged’ at McLaren, of being managed to high heaven. A new start in a new team with new personnel and lofty goals sounds like the perfect antidote.
I started the week thinking Hamilton had made a mistake in leaving McLaren. Having thought about it some more and having read more details as they’ve come out, I no longer think it’s a mistake. I think it’ll be good for Hamilton the man; I hope it’s as good for Hamilton the driver.