It’s official. A major shakeup will be occurring in the world of Formula One in 2013, with McLaren announcing today that Sergio Perez will replace its championship winning driver Lewis Hamilton from next year onwards. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, will start racing with Mercedes-AMG where he’ll replace the aging Michael Schumacher.
The confirmation ends months of speculation of the driver switch, and perhaps goes some way towards explaining recent tensions in the McLaren camp.
Rising star Perez, who is just 22, currently drives for Sauber. It’s not clear yet who will replace him next year.
“I’m thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver,” Perez said at today’s announcement. “The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula One.”
The young Mexican has shown great promise since joining F1 last year, and has even been tipped as a possible driver for Ferrari. It comes as no surprise then that McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh was happy to sign him for the coming season.
On Hamilton’s departure from the Woking team, Whitmarsh was thankful of the young Briton's service. Hamilton, after all, has been training with McLaren for over a decade and brought home the drivers’ title for the team in 2008.
Jenson Button will be staying with McLaren next year.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton on the podium at the 2012 Formula 1 Italian Grand PrixEnlarge Photo
Hamilton will be familiar with his new home at Mercedes. Mercedes engines power McLaren’s F1 cars and Hamilton’s daily driver is a GL Class. Additoinally, his career has been supported by Mercedes along with McLaren since its earliest days. In 2000, he and current Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg were team-mates at TeamMBM.com in Formula A karting. They also happen to be good friends off the track.
In a statement, Hamilton said, “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.”
The Mercedes team, and perhaps the world of F1, will soon bid farewell to Michael Schumacher again. The seven-time world champion conceded the past three years haven’t gone as well as he would have liked. He thanked the team and welcomed Lewis Hamilton onboard.
Mercedes-AMG team principal Ross Brawn also thanked Schumacher for his efforts, and said he was delighted to welcome Hamilton to the Mercedes-AMG camp.