Whitmarsh – Hamilton’s move to Mercedes a mistake
By Berthold Bouman
McLaren’s Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh believes Lewis Hamilton’s move to Mercedes was a mistake, as he wouldn’t recommend any driver to leave the McLaren team. Yesterday it was announced the 2008 World Champion sealed a three-year deal with Mercedes, believed to be worth £62 million.
“Mercedes-Benz is a great partner of ours and they are a great team,” said Whitmarsh. “But anyone leaving McLaren, who wants to win, I think that’s a mistake because I have faith and belief in this team. “Whether you measure it over the last four races, four years or 40 years, we’re a fantastic team. I wouldn’t advise anyone to leave McLaren if they want to win. But I’ve got to respect Lewis’s decision and really wish him well.”
It wasn’t a question of money Whitmarsh admitted, and he also admitted his mission to keep Hamilton in the team has failed. “I know we made a very, very big financial offer, bigger than I believe any Formula One driver is enjoying today.
We went a long way to make a good offer to Lewis. But ultimately it takes two to get a signature. We clearly didn’t agree terms and we’ve moved in a different direction.”
Asked whether Hamilton’s management, XIX Entertainment, was the culprit Whitmarsh said to Sky Sports, “The fact is Lewis is a great racing driver, he’s got to make decisions in his life. So we had lots of discussions with XIX, we went in to lots of details, we drew up very complex contracts, we negotiated lots of detail, lots of freedom within those and it was a very commercial offer that we made.”
Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn also denied the move was all about money. “Lewis didn’t come here because we offered more money, because we didn’t,” he said. And he added, “I think for Lewis, the attraction was being part of that building structure — the creation of the team. Not walking into a ready-formed, successful package; it was being part of the process of building that package.”
And it must be said, although McLaren is one of the three top teams in Formula One, when a driver doesn’t feel at home anymore and the motivation is gone, then there is not much one can do. Hamilton didn’t want to go to Ferrari because of his arch-enemy Fernando Alonso, and at Red Bull both drivers already had a contract for 2013, and thus Hamilton opted for the next best team: Mercedes.
It won’t be easy for Hamilton in 2013, hopefully Mercedes will soon make a huge leap forwards, only then Hamilton will have chance to fight for the title for Mercedes next season.