Hamilton quits F1 as Alonso gets Mercedes drive
Triple Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has decided to quit Formula 1 and with it free up the sport’s most coveted seat – in the Mercedes team – which will be filled by Fernando Alonso, starting at the forthcoming Chinese Grand Prix weekend.
The news is set to take the sporting world by storm as the Briton is considered to be Formula 1’s biggest and most marketable super-stars.
Hamilton had no answer to Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel at the season opening Australian Grand Prix and, according to a highly placed source within the team, when asked to up his pace by his engineer, upon which he responded, “I don’t feel like it mate….”
Before adding, ” I am tired of driving around in circles, rather be at home with Coco and Roscoe and the family.”
In Melbourne he went ahead with the podium ceremony and made all the right soundbites in the wake of the race. But then. instead of staying in that timezone to prepare for the Chinese Grand Prix, he hopped on his jet and went home.
Shortly after returning home he is said to have called Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff with the news that he was quitting to pursue his love for music. He has an album he wants to release this year produced by Jay-Z entitled: Still I Rise in the Fast Lane – a mixture of R&B with Hamilton’s unique (squeaky) vocals.
It is also understood that Hamilton insisted that part of his departure deal be that Wolff immediately sign Alonso from the beleaguered McLaren team. The Spaniard was informed directly by Hamilton and Wolff during a conference call.
Alonso and his minders then triggered the release clause in his 1488 page contract with the Woking outfit, entitled: Article #3354 Honda Flop Bail-Out which states: “If the Honda power unit is slower than a GP2 car, Mr. Alonso can terminate the contract with no loss of remuneration.”
This in turn prompted Zak Brown to plead with the Spaniard to reconsider, even going as far as offering the 35 year old a five year contract to remain. Our source reports that Alonso merely laughed and flipped the bird before handing over the keys to his 570GT and a kit bag with soiled McLaren gear.
The double World Champion is said to have gone straight to Brackley, the Mercedes F1 headquarters, to sign a hastily prepared contract as well as a seat fitting and pick up his AMG C63S Coupe plus a bag full of Mercedes goodies.
The writing was on the wall for all to see in Australia. Hamilton even hinted at such a scenario when he said in the drivers’ press conference at Albert Park, “I feel we’re yet to see the best of Fernando. The sport needs that and he deserves to be able to show that.”
During the weekend down under, Alonso scoffed at reporters when they suggested he should retire, “And where am I going? What would I do at home? I start cooking or I’d be on the couch watching TV? The solution is to work hard and demand a response from the team.”
Silver Arrows team chief, Wolff told reporters in early March, “I wouldn’t be afraid of having Alonso, he is definitely one to consider.”
Hamilton in turn was missing his childhood mate, turned arch rival, Nico Rosberg who departed the sport after clinching his one and only F1 title last year. The pair have buried the hatchet and the triple World Champion started envying the German’s new found, carefree lifestyle.
The pair were spotted out riding uni-cycles around the streets of Monaco, no doubt mending the bond that took a pounding over the past years as teammates.
The final straw was the Instagram and Twitter images of Rosberg chilling in his lounge watching the season opening Grand Prix while quaffing a latte, while Hamilton sweated it out in the cockpit of the Mercedes.
All these elements aligned to the point that Hamilton simply realised that he has had enough of Formula 1, which in turn prompted the British driver to trigger the “I Am Bored, I Wanna Sing” release clause in his contract.
The obvious goal for him is to immediately pursue his musical career. In the past Hamilton has made no secret that he wanted a life beyond F1, he told the Daily Mail in March, “I’m a singer. I love R’n’B.”
He recently described his music as “R’n’B sound with mixture of hip hop artists such as The Weeknd and Drake. I love creativity, so I go to art shows, fashion shows, I love going to concerts when I can. I’m in awe of seeing people perfect their craft.”
“This sport is not what my life is about. When I stop, the sport will go on. I want to go on and be challenged by something else,” he said in another clear hint that he was losing his focus in F1,” he added.
Hamilton made his F1 debut a decade ago and his rise, from humble beginnings, to become the sport’s highest paid driver is the stuff of legend. But at the same time burn-out has always been a possibility, while the prospect of following his next dream while spending more time at home with Roscoe and Coco also helped sway his sudden decision.
An announcement is expected on Monday, with Mercedes set to host a press conference with Hamilton and Alonso in Stuttgart.