D the unimaginable happened. Lewis Hamilton leaves his surrogate family. The team that has looked after him since he was ten years old. Hamilton had parted ways with McLaren only once. 2005, when he wanted to go straight to the GP2 series after losing the Formula 3 championship against McLaren's advice. Hamilton found no sponsors and remorsefully returned to McLaren's lap. If that isn't a bad omen for his future.
For Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton is both an opportunity and a risk. The 2008 world champion is undisputedly one of the top three drivers. In the last eight races, he has shown what he can do when his team puts a competitive car on his wheels. Hamilton won three times, but also stopped four times through no fault of their own. With the 27-year-old Englishman, there are no more excuses for Mercedes. If you don't drive at the top next year, it will definitely be down to the car and the team.
Hamilton and Perez get the transfer carousel moving
The move from Hamilton to Mercedes has far-reaching consequences Consequences for the transfer market. Just two hours after the first rumors about the sensational transfer swarmed through the network, McLaren announced Sergio Perez as a replacement for Hamilton. The professional world is divided as to whether that was a good choice. Perez undoubtedly had his highlights. The podium places in Malaysia, Canada and Italy were world champions. However, with the Sauber he also had the car that enabled him to catch up without ruining the tires.
In between, Perez kept crashing. His performances fluctuate more than those of Paul di Resta and Nico Hülkenberg. Even Ferrari was unsure whether to replace Felipe Massa with Sergio Perez. The hesitation from Maranello should have puzzled McLaren. Ferrari has firsthand information about the 22-year-old Mexican. Stefano Domenicali could ask Sauber at any time.
Perez could therefore have been a strategic choice for McLaren. The rumors that the main sponsor Vodafone is leaving at the end of 2013 do not want to fall silent. With Perez you have contact with money from the Carlos Slim company chain. Hamilton and Perez have been fixtures for a few hours. But what does that mean for the remaining vacancies in the paddock? And the pilots who have not yet confirmed a regular seat for 2013? We take a look behind themBackdrops.
The Schumacher files:
Michael Schumacher did not leave Mercedes voluntarily. Perhaps he would have been able to create facts in April if he had already extended his contract, but since the Canadian GP in mid-June, Mercedes has been flirting with Hamilton. And since then, it was no longer in Schumacher's hands how to proceed.
The record winner also doesn't give the impression that he wants to quit. This year he got black and white confirmation of what he had been convinced of since his comeback. He can drive as fast as Nico Rosberg and thus like the rest of the young guard if you give him the right car for it.
The alternatives to Mercedes are few and far between. Actually only Ferrari, Sauber and Williams would be considered. When it comes to Ferrari, insiders say: It won't happen. Frank Williams was always a big Schumacher fan. But that alone is no longer enough. Williams needs money. The professional world taps on Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas.
There is contact to Sauber. Peter Sauber would rather take the seven-time world champion on board today than tomorrow if he can finance him. When we asked him about it in Monza, Schumacher said with a wink: 'Why not?' What might not have been taken very seriously at the time now seems to be more than just a pipe dream.
Sauber started developing the 2013 car earlier than usual. The boss said optimistically: 'The data tell us that it will be even better than the current one.' With Schumacher on board, sponsors could be found. The departure of Perez does not mean that Sauber will lose its Mexican sponsors. The Telmex contract is long-term and not linked to Perez.
However, it is obvious that Esteban Gutierrez would do the Mexicans a favor. Gutierrez would be a big risk for Peter Sauber. Then he needs someone like Schumacher as a secure bank in the team. Kamui Kobayashi is not number one. If Schumacher does not come, the chances of Adrian Sutil's comeback increase.
The Hülkenberg file:
Nico Hülkenberg is hanging between many chairs. Force India urges him to sign. Better today then tomorrow. The McLaren option is gone. Ferrari's poker with an uncertain outcome. Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has asked for more time to think about the Massa question this week. Now Hulk is vacillating between Force India and Sauber.
The condition is that there are options to get out after a year. The German would like to have room to maneuver in 2014, because then places will be free again in many teams. At Ferrari, Massa should stay for another year. And at Lotus when Kimi Raikkonen's contract expires. Waiting too long can get in the eye. Hülkenberg knows that from 2010, when he was dumped at Williams' last minute.
The name Paul di Resta hardly appeared in any speculation on the transfer market. So it came as a surprise that McLaren opted for Perez and not the Scotsman, which could have been more easily accessed through Force India. But di Resta is penniless. With Perez, new sponsorship markets are opening up for McLaren. Di Resta has to be bought out at Force India. The team holds an option for him.
The latest rumors are that Ferrari is apparently ready to pay a transfer fee for the Singapore fourth. That would explain why Fernando Alonso wasn't in the best mood after the race in Singapore. The Spaniard must have guessed that Di Resta with his fourth place only 3.8 seconds behind Alonso got the ticket for Ferrari. If both drivers go at Force India, that would be a chance for drivers like Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, Adrian Sutil or Jules Bianchi. Maybe even Rubens Barrichello.
The Massa files:
Felipe Massa is still under suspicion. Actually, he should get a notification in the middle of the week. After his good race in Singapore the chances shouldn't be too bad for the Brazilian. With Perez one of his competitors is out of the market. But perhaps it was precisely this castling that made Ferrari think. If McLaren is ready to replace Hamilton with Perez, then you shouldn't think about a little more risk yourself.
However, the possible alternatives are few and far between. Of the young drivers, only di Resta and Hülkenberg come into question. From the seasoned Sutil and Kovalainen. Apparently Di Resta won the race. Fernando Alonso recently made vehement advertising for Felipe Massa. On race day in Singapore, however, something must have happened at Ferrari that spoiled the world championship leader's mood. Observers think it could have something to do with the occupation of the second cockpit. That would speak against Massa and for di Resta.
The Sutil file:
Adrian Sutil is on the list at Sauber. Just like Nico Hulkenberg. Heikki Kovalainen, however, does not. The Finn had apparently never shown any interest in Sauber. Of course, Sutil would prefer to have Massa's place. But there are others in front of him. Sutil has the best chance at Force India if one of the current regular pilots leaves. There was contact with Williams in 2011. But with Bottas and Maldonado, two pilots have better cards there too. The Bavarian does not want to be pushed onto the bench for two years. Otherwise all that remains is the job as a Pirelli tester or a change to the DTM.
The Kobayashi files:
The days of Kamui Kobayashi should be numbered. The Japanese will only survive if Sauber finds a Michael Schumacher replacement for Perez. Together with a youngster like Gutierrez, Kobayashi would be overwhelmed. The Japanese's performance this year was too inconsistent. Too great the distance to Perez inthe World Championship ranking.
The Kovalainen files:
Apparently there are only two options for Heikki Kovalainen: Caterham or Ferrari. But be careful. Other drivers knock on the door at Caterham's. For example Sebastien Buemi. If you play poker too long, you can quickly lose your place. Especially since Kovalainen is not cheap.
The Alguersuari files:
Jaime Alguersuari publicly advertises with a large sponsorship package. In Singapore, he got in touch through media representatives at Sauber. But you don't know anything there. 'There is no contact,' was all they said. The only alternatives for the Spaniard are Caterham and HRT.