Hamilton set to join Mercedes
Schumacher poised to retire with Hamilton believed to be bound for Mercedes; Sergio Perez the favourite to replace Hamilton at McLaren; Announcements expected later today
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 28/09/12 7:45pm
Lewis Hamilton is expected to announce later today that he is to leave the McLaren team for Mercedes.
Confirmation of Hamilton's intentions will bring to an end one of F1's longest-lasting transfer sagas and is likely to herald the permanent retirement of Michael Schumacher, the sport's most successful driver, and the appointment of Sergio Perez as Jenson Button's new team-mate at McLaren for the 2013 season.
"Lewis Hamilton moves to Mercedes. A big decision & with 2014 Engine Regs in mind it may turn out to be the right one."
David Croft on Twitter Quotes of the week
As tends to be the way of such things, after months of apparent deadlock it appears as if the saga has suddenly accelerated towards its conclusion in the last 24 hours. According to some reports, McLaren themselves only learnt yesterday of Hamilton's decision - one which will send shockwaves through the sport.
According to The Daily Telegraph, 'Mercedes are waiting for their board in Stuttgart to sign off on the new Concorde Agreement, the commercial pact which binds the teams to the sport, before making an official announcement regarding Hamilton. That announcement should arrive today.'
A concurring Guardian adds that 'Hamilton will sign for Mercedes on a three-year deal worth £15m a year. The irony of that is that it is not significantly more than Hamilton is being paid at the moment. He is coming to the end of a five-year deal that has been repeatedly reported as being worth £75m, or £15m a year, but which in fact is worth about £13m-£14m per annum.'
Hamilton's departure from McLaren - the team with whom he has spent the entirety of his motor-racing career - will stun the paddock and is certain to kick-start the 2013 driver merry-go-round. It would also be one of the most remarkable transfers in the history of the sport given that Mercedes have won just a single grand prix since returning to F1 as a fully-fledged outfit three years ago.
After months of deliberation, however, the lure of a new challenge seems to have proved irresistible to Hamilton.