Unless you (and by you I mean any somewhat serious F1 fan) have been living under a rock for the past couple days, you will most definitely have heard that Lewis Hamilton has signed with Mercedes.
No need for specifics, there aren’t any, besides the length of the contract, three years. No inkling of money or associated team commitments.
Now it would be perfectly fair if you accused me of being under a rock in that its Tuesday night and this is the first I will have posted about the single most important driver market development in the past three years.
Well, in some ways, I was. See the news broke on Friday and I was in the middle of shooting the Grand Am Season Finale at Lime Rock Park (see the pictures here) as an accredited photographer, my first time with such designation. Then I spent Sunday getting everything ready to post yesterday. I was busy, to say the least.
But enough with my excuses. See, Lewis Hamilton’s position in the driver market was the single most important piece the entire year. His decision seemed to have the whole F1 paddock holding its breadth leading up to Singapore.
Its ramifications are wide spread, but lets start with cold, hard facts. See, right after Hamilton announced, McLaren announced that Sergio Perez would be joining Button. This means that Schumacher is without a drive and an opening has just developed at Sauber.
It also means that McLaren felt that Sergio Perez felt that he was their best option to fill in for Hamilton, which is also very interesting. Obviously a team like McLaren has their pick of the litter. They could have also gone with either Paul di Resta or Nico Hulkenberg (now rumored to be Felipe Massa’s competition) or even Romain Grosjean (not as likely he would accept seeing how well Lotus is doing) or Charles Pic or brought back Heikki Kovalainen. They did none of these things.
From Hamilton’s side, the wisdom of this decision is very much up for debate. I tend to think that it is foolish and predicated on emotion rather than factual analysis, but that’s just me. The fact, though, is that no one knows nor will they know for the next year or so. What we do know, though, is that Mercedes is here to stay, something that was not certain before this signing.
Finally, Hamilton’s move also opens discussion on Felipe Massa and the final piece of the driver puzzle. Felipe is standing on some pretty strong drives of late and rumors are getting stronger that he will stay on next year. He has, however, enjoyed the shadow that his sparing buddy from last year has cast over the F1 media. The light will be swinging back to him and we will have to see how he handles it.
I plan on writing an article per day on the three fields of discussion I just outlined starting tomorrow so keep your eyes peeled.