'Schumi would be eased out for Hamilton'
Reports in Germany pointing towards Mercedes exit for Schumacher should they sign Hamilton for 2013
Last Updated: 22/09/12 11:50am
Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz has revealed that sources in the German media are increasingly certain that Michael Schumacher will be the Mercedes driver forced to make way if the team lure Lewis Hamilton from McLaren for 2013.
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The saga surrounding Hamilton's future beyond the end of this season has continued to rumble on unabated in the Singapore paddock with conflicting reports as to whether the 27-year-old is now more or less likely to sign a new contract at McLaren.
With a big money offer to defect from Mercedes believed to be on the table, Germany's leading tabloid newspaper Bild reported on Friday that the team would sacrifice" seven-times Champion Schumacher if Hamilton joins.
Speaking about the reports emanating from Germany on Sky Sports News, Ted told Craig Slater on Friday evening: "There's a couple of things. First of all that Ross Brawn has been talking [about the future]. He was saying 'when we need to think about drivers for next year we also need to think about who's going to be our driver in 2014 and 2015', and I don't think that's going to be Michael Schumacher. So that's one little nugget to add to the mix."
Another factor that could possibly point towards Schumacher being eased back into retirement, and the arrival of Hamilton, according to the reports is the commissioning of a new simulator at Mercedes F1 headquarters in Brackley.
"The other thing from Germany we hear is that Mercedes Corporate have agreed that Mercedes Grand Prix can build and commission a 'Super Simulator' as they're calling it in Germany," Ted explained.
"Now Michael Schumacher is famously not a fan of simulators, he gets sea sick, so he can't actually do that. Lewis Hamilton is known to be brilliant on the simulator, so the Germans are taking that as maybe another ingredient that will mean that Lewis will go to Mercedes.
"Of course, we don't know whether it's an argument over money, whether Lewis doesn't feel valued at McLaren. We'll see. That's just another two little ingredients to put into the mix."
With his own three-year contract with Mercedes expiring at the end of the campaign, Schumacher has yet to publicly announce whether or not he even wants to continue in F1 for another year - only suggesting more will be known about his future in October.
Should Mercedes in effect take the decision out of his hands by hiring Hamilton, Ted believes the German manufacturer would have to handle the Schumacher issue sensitively in order to avoid a major public relations backlash in their homeland.
"They need to be careful because Michael Schumacher still has immense status in Germany. They need to be careful that people start not buying Mercedes-Benz cars in Germany because they've got rid of Michael Schumacher," he said.
"So they'll be some very careful deliberations about how they handle that if it is, as all the German press are suggesting, it is Michael Schumacher that gets levered out of that, not Nico Rosberg."
Rosberg himself made clear earlier this week that he would "definitely" be driving one of Mercedes' cars in 2013 following speculation that he could be the driver eased out for Hamilton despite signing a new multi-year deal last season.