While 2009 has been a disappointment for the Mercedes-McLaren Formula 1 team, current world champ is sanguine about the team’s prospects for 2010, and he rates his own efforts as being critical to the team’s ultimate success.
As quoted in The Daily Mail, Hamilton said, “I’m looking forward to next year’s new McLaren. I don’t think the team have had a driver who is pushing them as I am. I’m meticulous with everything. It’s all about getting the new car to be the best, the lightest and fastest. I have always said I have no desire to be known as a one-time champion. The love for winning never stops.”
These are strong words, considering the McLaren team pedigree. The team has been home to drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda and Emerson Fittipaldi during title winning seasons. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Hamilton is focused and driven, and is interested in the success of the team as a whole. In fact, he seems like the perfect antithesis of Kimi Raikkonen, who according to rumor is in contention to replace Heikki Kovalainen as Hamilton’s team mate next year.
Raikkonen, in his three years at Ferrari, has developed a reputation for being uncommunicative and inconsistently motivated. He is also the highest paid driver on the grid. While it is certain that no team will match the Finn’s current salary of close to 50 million euros per year, Kimi’s asking price for 2010 is roughly half that amount. Should any team decide to cough that up, Kimi would retain his status as the sport’s number one wage earner.
The Hamilton-Raikkonen pairing would certainly be interesting to watch, but Given Norbert Haug’s recent statements about the team’s reluctance to hire over-paid marquee names, the prospect of this lineup occurring seems somewhat diminished. Other drivers who have been linked to the seat are Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button and Nick Heidfeld.
According to The Daily Mail report, Hamilton doesn’t really care who his new partner is, as long as he’s a true team player. Said Hamilton, “I don’t mind who comes to the team as long as they come in peace and bring peace and want to be productive and move the team forward.”
Clearly, Hamilton still has memories of the 2007 season in mind, when his partnership with Fernando Alonso was scarred by acrimonious infighting. Conversely, Hamilton’s two years with the underperforming Kovalainen have been a study in harmony. But team harmony alone doesn’t win points, so it seems inevitable that Kovalainen will be replaced.
Image by Paul Woolrich, licensed through Creative Commons.