In one of the most sensational transfer stories of F1's history Lewis Hamilton has announced that he is to leave McLaren after fifteen years and move to Mercedes, who have offered him a three year deal beginning at the start of the F1 season 2013.
Since the news broke, public and professional opinion has been divided with many questioning Hamilton's loyalty and motives in leaving a British team that has nurtured his talent from the age of 13 as a young karter.
This was no light decision for the 27 year old driver and definitely a gamble. Hamilton has remained professional and grateful throughout the media frenzy but controversy surrounds him none the less. Undoubtedly some of the team members will feel betrayed and all the stories we hear create a controversy Hamilton is well aware of. The former World Champion quoted Martin Luther King on his twitter page as the news broke: 'The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy'.
Hamilton will replace Michael Schumacher in the German team, a move which is almost certain to end Schumacher's career driving for the team. We wait to hear if the Sven time world champion will retire and be offered a managerial role or move on himself.
McLaren team Principal Martin Whitmarsh has branded Hamilton's decision to move to one of their biggest rivals as a "mistake" and many have come down hard on the driver, questioning the motives behind parting ways with his mentors.
However BBC Sport F1 presenter Jake Humphrey supports Hamilton's move, 'Lewis Hamilton's decision is as much about growing up as it is about racing. 15 years in the same team, same faces, same building, same messages. I think he needed to do what all young people must eventually-leave home.'
For some Hamilton's move is a calculated, long term, intelligent signing - his new contract gives him greater control of image rights and Mercedes expect to be strong in 2014 when new engine rules are introduced.
'It should give him fresh motivation.' says Humphrey, who believes this is a smart move 'McLaren last won the constructors title in 1998...Mercedes did it as Brawn GP in 2009. Time will tell but instinct and gut reaction...it's the right move'.
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