Brundle: Four options for Lewis
McLaren driver linked with Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes
Last Updated: 02/06/12 11:33am
Martin Brundle believes that Lewis Hamilton is weighing up four different options as he considers whether to leave McLaren at the end of the season.
Hamilton's current deal with the Woking outfit expires at the end of this season and, despite reports last week that McLaren were preparing a £100m contract extension for the driver they have nurtured throughout his motor-racing career, the former World Champion is yet to signal his intention to remain with the team.
Ferrari, Mercedes and World Champions Red Bull have all been touted as potential destinations, but, as Martin explained in an interview with Sky Sports News, Hamilton's unquestioned pace and aggression could actually count against him.
"It's contract negotiation time but the question is where could he go? Mercedes-Benz are starting to go very well and he has a strong relationship with them...Ferrari [are another option], but would Alonso have him there?...Red Bull, but would Vettel have Hamilton there - or will Vettel indeed be there given there's talk of him moving to Ferrari?"
Although it's understood that the reports last week claiming that McLaren were set to offer Hamilton a deal which would make him the highest-paid driver in F1 were premature, the team's determination to keep the 2008 World Champion is not in the slightest doubt. In which case, Hamilton's first decision will be to decide whether he wants to stay at Woking or seek a new challenge elsewhere.
"He's comfortable at McLaren," said Martin. "But will he fancy a bit of fresh oxygen by going somewhere else? I imagine he's weighing that all up at the moment."
Hamilton's repeated public criticisms of McLaren this season have also given rise to speculation that he is ready to walk out on the team, and, in the wake of another error-ridden weekend in Monaco, the 27-year-old has reiterated his frustration with the starting procedure that saw him fall back off the line.
"I did the initial launch and then, on the formation lap, the guys told me to make a clutch setting change. I took their advice - I have to rely on them - and let the clutch out but it just didn't go. There was no torque, no drive.
"I said to them afterwards, 'We can't have everyone else making great starts and us not'. It wasn't an actual human error."