Way too much is being talked and written about where Lewis Hamilton might lay his sponsor-covered hat from next year. There has been plenty of speculation – Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus, McLaren, Williams – but little or no genuine intelligence. I have not the slightest clue what Hamilton’s favoured option would be and I’m pretty sure no one else has either, other than the Brit and his management.
The focus has been largely on Hamilton’s choices and whether these are now closing off. Some might celebrate that, but from the evidence of the Canadian Grand Prix, it seems clear that F1 can only be better off with Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton in genuinely competitive machinery.
However, there is another angle on the story – would any of the other top drivers consider beating a path to McLaren’s shiny Technology Centre door? There was no suggestion that McLaren was on Webber’s radar and I can’t imagine the British Team having to start preparing cartoons of either Alonso or Vettel anytime soon for their Tooned series.
The most commonly suggested replacement for Hamilton is Paul di Resta. The Scot is a solid prospect, but even Lewis’s harshest critics, and there are plenty of them, would be hard pressed to argue that di Resta is a certain like-for-like swap for Hamilton at this stage of his career.
McLaren has a great name and is still one of the top teams, but it is difficult to imagine it now attracting two of the greatest talents in the history of the sport, as it did with prost and Senna in the late nineteen eighties. Other than a few races at the end of 2005 (when it was too late) and a few races in the middle of 2007 (when they were about to implode), McLaren has not produced a consistently dominant car in recent times. In contrast, Ferrari, Renault, Brawn and Red Bull all have.
Ultimately, I hope Hamilton stays at McLaren as it still feels the best fit of any of the available team choices. But it would be good to see what he might do with a bit of Red-Bull 2011-style unfair advantage.
FORMULA ONE MUM