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GP Week : Issue 166
DECIDING YOUR FUTURE: IT’S H-A-M, BABY! Lewis/Mercedes rumours puzzle the press corps F1 >>> NEWS The hot topic in the Monza paddock this weekend was Lewis Hamilton’s future. At least, it was the hot topic everywhere but the McLaren Brand Centre, where all mention of the potential loss of the 2008 world champion brought about little but monosyllabic answers. Arriving in Monza last week, the newspapers were aflutter with talk of a possible Mercedes move for the McLaren driver, who has been with the Woking racers since the age of 12. The rumour mill began to whir in Spa, when Hamilton arrived in the Belgian paddock without a freshly- signed McLaren contract in his pocket, despite having assured journalists earlier in the season that his future plans would have been wrapped up over the course of the August break. With his McLaren future far from assured, talk of a possible move to Mercedes began to do the rounds of the paddock. When the British driver spent the Belgian weekend behaving increasingly bizarrely, culminating in his tweeting of the team’s telemetry, scribes began to posit that Hamilton was rebelling against the team that had nurtured him since his youth. The Mercedes rumours followed Hamilton to Monza, fuelled by confirmation that the Stevenage- born racer had had discussions with the Silver Arrows about a possible move to Brackley. But XIX Entertainment, who represent Hamilton, assert that they remain in advanced contract negotiations with McLaren, and that a new deal is expected to be announced shortly. When pressed on the matter by the media, both Hamilton and his McLaren colleagues have responded with a repeated ‘no comment’. On Saturday evening in the McLaren Brand Centre, the usual media grilling descended into a Monty Python-esque farce, with one journalist finding a dozen ways of asking whether Hamilton was leaving the team. The only response he received? An endless stream of “no”s, with increasingly tight smiles from Hamilton, team-mate Jenson Button, and team principal Martin Whitmarsh. Off the record, however, a number of senior paddock officials have expressed serious doubts about the Mercedes rumours, which are widely viewed as a desperate bargaining chip in XIX’s negotiations with McLaren. Formula One might be a marriage of the sublime and the ridiculous, and an arena in which logic rarely applies, but whatever the state of the 2014 engines there is no sense in moving from a team proven to be consistent championship contenders to an outfit with one race win and four podia to its name ... 3 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: