Lewis Hamilton has made a big mistake- Martin Whitmarsh

Lewis has made a big mistake in joining Mercedes, insists McLaren chief Whitmarsh



19:48 GMT, 28 September 2012

Lewis Hamilton has been accused of an error of judgment for leaving McLaren to join Mercedes.

As revealed by Sportsmail, Hamilton will make the switch next season on a three-year deal which could see the 27-year-old earn up to 60million.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is adamant Hamilton will not enjoy the same success at Mercedes as at McLaren — insisting his replacement Sergio Perez and Jenson Button have a better chance of challenging for world championships.

Wise decision Lewis Hamilton is making the switch to Mercedes

Wise decision Lewis Hamilton is making the switch to Mercedes

Difficult day: Martin Whitmarsh

Difficult day: Martin Whitmarsh

‘Anyone leaving McLaren, who wants to win, I think that’s a mistake,’ warned Whitmarsh. ‘I have faith and belief in this team. Whether you measure it over the last four races, four years or 40 years, we’re a fantastic team.

‘I would say to any driver who wants to win in this sport, come and join McLaren and aspire to join McLaren. The reverse is clear. I wouldn’t advise anyone to leave McLaren if they want to win.’

That view is clearly not shared by Hamilton, who spoke enthusiastically about his championship chances at Mercedes having decided to quit McLaren after 14 years.

‘It is now time for me to take on a fresh challenge and I am very excited to begin a new chapter racing for Mercedes,’ he said.


Sergio Perez (Mexico).

Age: 22.

Nickname: Checo.

Team: Sauber.

Oct 2010: Joined the Ferrari driver academy scheme and became the first graduate to compete in F1.

Mar 2011: Finished seventh in first F1 race at the Australian Grand Prix. First Mexican to compete in F1 since Hector Rebaque in 1981.

Mar 2012: On the podium for the first time at the Malaysian Grand Prix, finishing second to Fernando Alonso.


Perez’s switch means a vacancy at Sauber — maybe two, with Kamui Kobayashi’s future uncertain….

In the frame: Schumacher and ex-Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari.

Other movers: Vitaly Petrov is on shaky ground at Caterham, who could move for Bruno Senna…

Which means: Finn Valtteri Bottas to replace the Brazilian at Williams.

‘Mercedes-Benz has such an incredible heritage in motorsport, along with a passion for winning which I share. Together, we can grow and rise to this new challenge. I believe I can help steer the Silver Arrows to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning world championships.’

While Whitmarsh clearly feels Hamilton’s ambitions would have been better served by staying, he dismissed the accusation that McLaren made the bigger mistake by allowing the driver to join a rival team.

‘We had to accept that we didn’t agree terms with Lewis’s management, therefore Lewis and his management team have decided to go elsewhere,’ said Whitmarsh.

‘We made a financial offer which is better than anyone in Formula One, other than Lewis himself, receives today, and that is something I am comfortable with.’