Lewis Hamilton will on Friday bring to an end one of the most controversial and long-running transfer sagas in Formula One history by announcing that he is leaving McLaren, the team he has been with over half his life, for rivals Mercedes in a three-year deal which could be worth as much as $100million (£61.6million).
By Tom Cary, F1 Correspondent
12:18AM BST 28 Sep 2012
The announcement is almost certain to end the career of the most successful driver in F1, seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, whose return three years ago to the sport he once bestrode like a colossus palpably failed to live up to expectations.
It is not yet clear whether Schumacher will be offered some sort of ambassadorial or management role with the Brackley team.
The Daily Telegraph understands that Mercedes are waiting for their board in Stuttgart to sign off on the new Concorde Agreement, the commercial pact which binds the teams to the sport, before making an official announcement regarding Hamilton. That announcement should arrive today.
Right up until the end the move was kept shrouded in secrecy. McLaren are only understood to have been informed of Hamilton’s decision yesterday, and may hold a press conference of their own this morning, at which they will announce their next move.
There is no doubt, though, that Hamilton’s rejection, particularly after McLaren returned more than once in recent weeks with improved deals, reportedly matching Mercedes’ offer, will come as a bitter blow to the team who nurtured the 27 year-old from young karter to F1 world champion.