Hamilton to Mercedes and Perez to McLaren.. A brave move?
All through his career, McLaren has been 'the one'. In December 1995, at the age of 10, Lewis Hamilton approached McLaren Team principal Ron Dennis at the Autosport Awards ceremony and told him, "I want to race for McLaren one day." Nearly, after 14 years of the McLaren team nurturing and establishing Hamilton as 'one the best drivers on the grid', Lewis decides to move to another team in 2013, in sight of a 'new challenge'. That news hit fans like a lightning bolt. Would Lewis' fans shift heir base along with his move to Mercedes? That same day, news erupted that McLaren have opted to replace Hamilton with Sergio Perez! It was another dose of lightning strike. Sergio Perez, by then, had already finished thrice on podium and also showed he had winner worth talent in him and had a long way to go in F1. But surely, we didn't expect McLaren to make a hasty move and gamble their 2013 season with an inexperienced driver in a very experienced team. What is the real reason behind these moves, that nearly blew our hats off?
According to Lewis Hamilton, it was a 'new challenge' to take upon and help a team come up. Of what we know of Lewis, he has, never taken the trodden path. Always an experimenter and successful in anything he does. So we went with his point of view. Until, F1 pundit Eddie Jordan (EJ), Jordan team owner and BBC F1 presenter, brought the money factor in. F1 isn't just about 24 men with toys going around a track 60 times. Its way more than that. Technicals, statistics, Aero, and what not? The most important of them all is the money that's involved. What's F1 without it's budget running upto ten of billions? World's most expensive motorsport. Rumours say, McLaren paid Hamilton £ 15 million per year. But with the FIA cutting costs and many other rules, McLaren offered the 2008 champion only £ 10 million. Mercedes then kicked in with the 15 million offer. Hamilton's got the skill, he's got determination and he;s definitely got the speed, why not move to Mercedes? It's a decent car, like his 2011 and 2010 McLaren car, and plus, he's getting £5 million extra for driving a car that's only a step lower than the top teams! Lewis' driving style is such that, given a Marussia, he'll make the best out of it and without doubt, bring it within the top 11. Mercedes will, for sure put a big challenge in front of him. Other than these two reasons, there's another one, which probably would be denied by analysts, but is clearly seen in front of fans eyes. McLaren from their side too, showed signs of partiality. They seemed to support Jenson Button and favor him more. Evidence: McLaren's "Tooned" an episode showed Prost, Hakkinen, even Jenson! and so on, in the McLaren hall of fame. But forgot Hamilton. Lewis psychologically felt this too. Probably that's why he wants a new challenge.
Sergio Perez to McLaren seems to have no logic behind it. The McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, said: "We've been monitoring his progress carefully for some months. It was a string of giant-killing performances, a trio of podiums and a brilliant fastest lap in this year's Monaco Grand Prix that showed us that Sergio lacks nothing in terms of speed and commitment."
What none of us could get was, how McLaren decide on Sergio Perez on basis of a fastest lap in Monaco and 3 podiums. McLaren made a hasty decision on their second driver line up, and hopefully Perez lives up to McLaren's expectations. What they've lost, is the best driver on the grid and has gained someone who's a quarter of Lewis' calibre. No doubt that McLaren will once again nurture Perez and actch him when he falls, in his first year with them, but say 3-4 years down the line, will Perez get them a championship?
That's a question that'll be answered only in 2013.