Lewis Hamilton on defensive over possible Mercedes switch



The question gripping the paddocks and pit lanes as the Formula One circus rolls up here for the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday is whether Lewis Hamilton is really going to turn his back on a winning ride and leave McLaren for Mercedes next season.

There's also a supplementary: Is this all something cooked up in a meeting between the Formula One chief executive, Bernie Ecclestone, and Hamilton at Spa last weekend?

Soon after that meeting Ecclestone dropped the first hint that Michael Schumacher would be retiring again. Then, just on the eve of the Italian GP, Eddie Jordan, a close associate of Ecclestone, just happened to plant a story to the effect the deal was done.

Hamilton, his XIX Entertainment management and McLaren all deny the Jordan story, so could it all just be a ploy to dupe McLaren, who are unwilling to match the driver's financial demands, into believing that their man has other options, even though the doors at Ferrari and Red Bull are firmly closed? Is any part of what Jordan said true?

"No," Hamilton insisted yesterday. So how does he feel about the allegations? "It's not great for the team. We need to keep our guys motivated because they are working non-stop back at the factory to provide me with a car with which to win the World Championship. So it's not necessary [Jordan's comments].

"But what will be, will be. It will all come out when it's done. But at the end of the day, nothing has changed since the last race."

He denied that all the speculation has been distracting, but his body language has gone back to being awkward, a far cry from the super-relaxed racer who dominated the Canadian Grand Prix in June. He also disingenuously deflected questions about his meeting with Ecclestone by claiming: "He was telling me about getting married…"

But is he as unsettled at McLaren as a possible move to Mercedes might suggest? "No. We have got some great people in this team. Great people. I have been with them since I was 13, which is a longer relationship than most people here [at McLaren]. I do appreciate the special people here, they are incredible. When I go back to the factory I have great relationships with people I have grown up with, from when I did my work experience."

It's been an uncomfortable week for McLaren's 2008 world champion, after the furore over the tweet he posted of some team telemetry in Belgium, the shunt he suffered in the first corner, and then the Mercedes rumours.

He denied that the tweet was harmful. "Nothing happened," he claimed. "The head of the media department asked me to take it down, so I did." Questions about the potential attraction of Mercedes were avoided. "I have no idea, I don't want to talk about it," Hamilton said. "I want to stay concentrated on this race. I don't have a deadline for sorting out next year, though obviously before next season would be useful. I'm in a great position right now and I need to focus on preparing for these upcoming races. There's a long way to go to the end of the season, and last weekend Jenson [Button] showed the great potential in our car and I just want to focus on that."

Those who believe Hamilton will decamp to Mercedes think it would all be about the money, but he was trenchant on that point. "I want to win. You always want to win, every year that you compete. That's why I exist, that's why the team exists. You just need to ensure you are in a place where you can do that."

Since their formation in 2010, Mercedes have won one race; McLaren have won 15.

Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
world cup 2014LIVE BLOG: Hosts Brazil take on the Netherlands in third-place play-off
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice