We could finally see F1’s ‘silly season’ start to wind down, with Mercedes believed to be making its announcement today that it has secured Lewis Hamilton’s services.
The announcement could pave the way for Michael Schumacher to retire from Formula 1 for a second time, given that team-mate Nico Rosberg is already locked into a long-term deal with Mercedes.
Hamilton has been at the centre of the driver market rumours for some months, with his XIX Management team embroiled in lengthy contract negotiations with McLaren to try and give the Englishman a significant pay bump and greater control over his image rights, which the Woking team controls very tightly.
The announcement will come as a blow for Schumacher’s many fans, who have been waiting in hope for the German to rediscover the form that took him to seven World Championship titles.
Now in the third season of his F1 comeback, the German has claimed a solitary podium finish – earned at this year’s European Grand Prix – and been involved in a host of incidents with other drivers in Mercedes’ less-than-competitive cars.
His only hope of remaining on the F1 grid would lie with Mercedes agreeing to swap Hamilton with Nico Rosberg, releasing the latter to fulfill his own championship ambitions with McLaren, who of course uses Mercedes’ engines.
That seems rather unlikely, and the popular line of thought is that McLaren has instead sought to sign up Sergio Perez in Hamilton’s place – quite how it’s managed to do so with Perez on a long-term Ferrari development deal is another matter entirely…