Lewis Hamilton has been in the headlines a lot lately with multiple trips to the stewards’ office, his Monaco outburst and now the fallout from colliding with team-mate Jenson Button during the Canadian Grand Prix.
Although both drivers immediately made peace after the race, with Hamilton largely unsighted when Button moved across on the pit straight, criticism of the 2008 World Champion has not been far away.
Former triple champion Niki Lauda would savage the 26-year-old immediately after the incident, calling on the FIA to take swift action. Meanwhile Sir Stirling Moss stressed that Hamilton may well have been pushing the boundaries, telling The Guardian: “He’s going a bit too far in some cases. He’s a terrific driver, he’s got great aggression and he’s an exciting driver, which is important because it’s a television sport now. But his handling of himself is not that good. His father is no longer his manager, which is a problem. If they could get together it would be a good thing.”
Hamilton has certainly had a hard time of late, and is clearly frustrated with this year’s championship slipping away. The Englishman has spent time in the past discussing his desire to form a lasting legacy once he finally retires and realises that to do this he must add to his sole title. To do this he may well have decided that his time at McLaren, the team which funded and nurture his racing career, is nearing the end.
Such a suggestion has been heightened in the past 24 hours with Autosport’s revelation that Hamilton met Red Bull team boss Christian Horner for a 15 minute conversation whilst in the paddock at Montreal.
Although both Red Bull and Hamilton’s management have played down the rendezvous it wouldn’t be surprising for the latter to be weighting up his options – especially with his current contract set to expire at the end of 2012. (Just remember where Fernando Alonso first made contact with Ron Dennis all those years ago!)
Currently seeking a switch to Red Bull seems to be a wise decision. The team presently has an excellent technical set up which is undeniably masters of the current technical regulations. What’s more it seems unlikely that the team will give Mark Webber more than a new one year deal, if he wishes to stay next season, clearing the way for the following year.
However would switch to Red Bull to partner Vettel really work out? Would Hamilton be able to stamp his authority and fit in to a constructor which currently centres itself around the reigning world champion? And even if he could achieve a true sense of equality would he be able to work constructively to promote team harmony.
Clearly Hamilton has worked very well with Jenson Button and the pair continue to have a strong relationship. Nevertheless when Button moved to Woking from Brackley it was to join Hamilton’s team, maybe not in terms of how it went racing but certainly in the way it marketed itself.
However the grass may not be greener on the other side for Hamilton and he may be best to look at the long term before jumping ship.
The 2013 will see a massive change in the sport’s technical regulations, with alternations both mechanically and technologically. Consequently it is not assured that Red Bull will still be the team to beat in two seasons time, especially with the FIA continuing to push the advancements in renewable technologies – something which it has compromised on this season.
Undoubtedly Formula One careers hinge on the moves which drivers make on and off the track and for Hamilton this may well be the defining moment.
Nevertheless do not expect a quick decision on this matter; after all it may well have been nothing more than a social visit…