Let us firstly put this into perspective. Lewis Hamilton is contracted to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes until the end of this current season. That is highly unlikely to change.
He has entered into talks, and is in ‘advanced stages of negotiations’ with the team to move forward and negotiate an ongoing contract. Which, one would suspect, would be similar to the ‘multi-year’ contract teammate Jenson Button is currently enjoying with the team.
‘Silly season’ really does seem to have got out of hand once again this year; the two main ‘victims’ appear to be Hamilton and Schumacher. The latter appears to be the victim of a Freudian slip of the tongue from Bernie Ecclestone, the former; it appears, is the victim of sensationalistic comments coming from someone who is not necessarily regarded as the most credible.
The common denominator between the two ‘stories of the season’? Ladies and Gentleman, I give you, the one and only, Eddie Jordan.
Everyone in Formula One regards him as the ‘Paddock Jester’, his colleagues never miss an opportunity to either discredit his theories, nor mock him in front of millions on the TV.
Asked about comments Jordan had been making in the lead up to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza this weekend, McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said “I’ve heard a range of speculation this week but any sentence that begins ‘Eddie Jordan understands’ is immediately questionable, isn’t it?”
In addition, it is apparent that Whitmarsh himself is not even involved in the seemingly ongoing process himself. ‘My understanding is that we are in talks with him [Hamilton]’.
Eager to jump on the bandwagon, many journalists of questioning ability, and credibility for that matter; have continued to blow the story out of all proportion, despite all involved (understandably) refusing to add fuel to the fire. In a statement, Mercedes said that they “do not comment on speculation”, but added “Until we are in a position to confirm our full driver line-up for next season, it is inevitable that there will be speculation around this topic.”
Whilst some of the points made by certain journalists do seem to make some logical sense, I would point out that this is nothing more than conjecture and have absolutely no factual basis whatsoever.
Predominantly, none of these sensationalistic stories have even touched upon the amount of time, effort and money that has been expended during the development of Hamilton himself, from his career in Karting through to his rise to the upper echelons of the sport he loves; Formula One.
From a commercial standpoint, McLaren will almost certainly be reviewing the return on investment in Hamilton. Admittedly, he has delivered a World Championship, along with twenty wins, forty eight podiums and a total of 865 points during his F1 career.
This suggests that both parties are merely trying to negotiate a mutually beneficial value for what each brings to the table, and have yet to agree what this is.
During questioning this weekend, Hamilton made it abundantly obvious that he was not even involved in the talks himself. This was being left to his Management Team, XIX Entertainment and Simon Fuller.
This itself begs a question. If a company who is more used to managing the likes of the Spice Girls and David Beckham is managing the process, they are bound to be as creative as they possibly can be, in order to not only increase the profile of their client, but to get the maximum value from negotiations for their own commercial and financial gain.
Admittedly, I am a fan of both Lewis Hamilton and the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, but what has annoyed me about this so-called story, is the lack of factual or evidential material to support any of the claims being made.
Speculation is bound to continue and could potentially escalate, but there is one thing that is certain; until negotiations are complete and either the ink is drying on the contract, or both parties have agreed it is no longer beneficial to continue; speculation is all that it will ever be.