Six races is all that remains in Lewis Hamilton’s tenure at McLaren as the driver will sport Mercedes livery when the 2013 Formula 1 season starts next spring.
After six seasons at McLaren, Hamilton leaves the only team he has driven for since joining F1 in 2007 and moves into the seat currently occupied by Michael Schumacher. Hamilton signed a three-year contract and will pair up with Nico Rosberg.
“It is now time for me to take on a fresh challenge and I am very excited to begin a new chapter racing for Mercedes AMG Petronas,” said Hamilton when the Formula 1 team announced his signing. “I believe I can help steer the Silver Arrows to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning the world championships.”
Ross Brawn, shares Hamilton’s vision. The team principal indicated that he has focused on making Mercedes a contender for the world championship.
“I believe that the combination of Lewis and Nico will be the most dynamic and exciting pairing on the grid next year,” Brawn said. “I am looking forward to what we can achieve together. The potential is now there to match any other team on the grid.”
Hamilton, who has won 20 of the 104 Formula 1 races he’s entered, became the youngest driver to become world champion when he captured the 2008 F1 title at the age of 23 years and 300 days. That record was erased two years later by Sebastian Vettel, who was five and a half months younger than Hamilton when he won the championship.
Hamilton’s teammate, Rosberg, comes from racing pedigree. His father, Keke, was somewhat of a Formula 1 legend and known for his spirited style of driving. The Flying Finn was world champion in 1982 and won five of his 128 F1 races.
The news of Hamilton’s signing leaves questions about Schumacher’s Formula 1 future. The seven-time world champion has struggled since returning to F1 in 2010, after a three-year retirement. Schumacher thanked Mercedes in a released statement.
“I have had three nice years with the team which unfortunately did not go as well as we would have wanted on the sporting side,” read the statement. Ever the champion, Schumacher added. “I would like to thank the team for their trust and all the guys for their unconditional commitment. I will now concentrate on the next races.”
Sauber driver Sergio Perez will replace Hamilton at McLaren in 2013.