Hamilton move is a mistake - Whitmarsh
Martin Whitmarsh says McLaren are a 'fantastic team'
Lewis Hamilton has been warned by McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh that leaving them for Mercedes is a mistake.
Mercedes confirmed on Friday morning that Hamilton would be joining them on a three-year deal from the start of the 2013 Formula One season, ending a 14-year association with McLaren. He will replace Michael Schumacher at the German team, with Mexican driver Sergio Perez - currently with Sauber - stepping in for the Briton at McLaren.
"Mercedes is a great partner of ours and they are a great team," Whitmarsh said. "But for anyone leaving McLaren, and he wants to win, I think that's a mistake because I have faith and belief in this team."
He added: "Whether you measure it over the last four races, four years or 40 years, we're a fantastic team. So I would say to any driver who wanted to win in this sport 'come and join McLaren and aspire to join McLaren'.
"I wouldn't advise anyone to leave McLaren if they want to win, but I've got to respect Lewis's decision and really wish him well."
Mercedes have won just one of 52 races since taking over 2009 champions Brawn GP, while McLaren have won 16 over the same three-year period.
Whitmarsh, who was only informed of Hamilton's definitive decision two days ago, is adamant McLaren did everything in their power to keep hold of the 2008 world champion.
Whitmarsh said: "I know we made a very big financial offer, bigger than I believe any Formula One driver is enjoying today, other than himself. That is something that I am comfortable with. But ultimately we move forward now."
It is understood McLaren's initial offer was a pay cut of a third on his current salary, and only when Mercedes entered the negotiations did McLaren start to fight to hang on to their star name.
In the end, despite McLaren's recent form with four consecutive pole positions and three successive wins prior to Hamilton's retirement in Singapore on Sunday, the decision was the hardest of the Briton's career.
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Really don't see why so many have a problem with the guy wanting to take on a new challenge.
Nobody here knows what is going on in his mind,including me.
But maybe he just feels stale at McLaren, and wants to try elsewhere.
When the new regs come in, nobody knows which team will be in the best position, but Mercedes will have as as good a chance as anyone at producing a winning car, especially in light of the fact that they are already putting their resources to this task.
He will be aware that it is a gamble, so I say good luck Hamilton, I don't enjoy the petulance, but I do enjoy a good racer, and he is surely that.
Well at least he'll be able to put a smile on his face when thinking about his bank balance as Perez scampers off into the blue yonder!
To be serious though, In the end this move wasn't all about money as there was eventual parity between the two contracts, albeit the Merc deal expanding Lewis's ability to have more than one sponsor.
Quite simply the relationship has become stale with McLaren and Lewis needed to start afresh. Whether the grass remains the same shade on the other side of the fence remains to be seen..
What can I say but "I pity Martin at this time" as the head of Mclaren racing at this time I have to say he is not making a great deal of good decisions.
Ron Dennis had some real success while in charge but Martin just about survive as he in my opinion don't have what it takes to run such outfit....I know there are a lot of people out there who would think otherwise but thats life and we all have our own opinion.........hence we have this site to express them.
I am a great supporter of Mclaren and thinks Lewis was one of their best drivers but things and people change and we just have to move on so Martin have to do the same and see how his decisions affects the team......we just have to wait and see.
well done lewisnow lets see what u can do for mercedes next season. you want a challenge you got one now your a racer go race and show the doubters your up for it
Martin is a two face liar and with such statement like "I would not advise anyone to leave Mclaren" well Alonso did and he is doing great at Ferrari......so why cant Lewis.
Martin has to put on a brave face for the sake of the team as he is/was responsible for keeping the team together which includes all the drivers.
The only person that made a mistake was and is Martin for allowing Lewis to leave after all the history between them.
I am sure he is and will be getting his arse kicked by some of the board members for allowing this to happen and while I appreciate Mclaren will be strong so will Mercedes,
Only reason he has left is for more money so I hope he fails miserably. I know little about f1 but even I know Mercedes is not in the same class as McLaren. If you want to win the f1 title you race for either McLaren, Ferrari or Red Bull, no other team comes close.