Following weeks of speculation, Lewis Hamilton has confirmed his departure from McLaren, signing a three-year contract with Mercedes AMG Petronas. The Briton will replace Michael Schumacher with the Silver Arrows with the seven-times champion left staring at retirement once again.
Hamilton has spent his entire Formula One career to date with McLaren but the relationship had become increasingly strained this year, triggering rumours of his departure. Despite suggestions that a move would be financially driven, the 27 year old has stressed that he was looking for a new challenge and wants to bring success to Mercedes.
“It is now time for me to take on a fresh challenge and I am very excited to begin a new chapter racing for the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team. 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 that I can help steer the Silver Arrows to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning the world championships.”
With Nico Rosberg partnering Hamilton, question marks surround the future of Michael Schumacher who now faces the prospect of retiring having achieved just one podium finish since his comeback. Schumacher leaves Mercedes on good terms though and is hoping to finish on a high.
“I have had three nice years with the team which unfortunately did not go as well as we all would have wanted on the sporting side. I wish Lewis well and for the team to achieve the success we worked so hard for in the build-up. I would like to thank the team for their trust and all the guys for their unconditional commitment. I will now concentrate on the next races.”
The signing of Hamilton comes at the end of a week where Mercedes have also signed a new commercial agreement with FOM and team principal Ross Brawn is now targeting the world championship with the new driver line-up.
“On behalf of MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS, I would first of all like to thank Michael Schumacher for the important contribution he has made to the growth of our team over the past three seasons. His energy and commitment have never wavered, even when results have not matched our own expectations, and we are determined to finish the 2012 season together on a high. As always, it has been a pleasure to work with Michael.”
“Looking ahead to 2013, I am delighted to welcome Lewis Hamilton to our team. The arrival of a driver of Lewis’ calibre is a testament to the standing of Mercedes-Benz in Formula One and I am proud that Lewis shares our vision and ambition for the success of the Silver Arrows. I believe that the combination of Lewis and Nico will be the most dynamic and exciting pairing on the grid next year, and I am looking forward to what we can achieve together.
“Over the past three years, we have been putting in place the foundations and building blocks that are needed to compete regularly for the world championship. Behind the scenes, we have assembled a team that is technically stronger, more experienced and better resourced, thanks to the support of PETRONAS and all of our loyal team partners. The potential is now there to match any other team on the grid, which is the minimum standard for a Mercedes-Benz works team. Our task is now to translate that potential into on-track performance for next season and beyond.”