Is Lewis Hamilton really on his way out at McLaren? The Daily Mail think it's a definite possibility. It seems the reigning World Champion still has some issues with his team after the so-called "Liargate" scandal robbed him of his hard-fought third-place finish in the season opener at Melbourne. We explained that scandal in our earlier post about the race, but briefly, Hamilton was allegedly told how to answer post-race questions about a safety-car passing incident by McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan. The team was found guilty of deliberately misleading the race stewards. Ryan was subsequently suspended and Lewis had all of his points taken away after offering an emotional public apology.
Normally, that would be that, but after another disappointing race in Malaysia, it seems Lewis and his manager/father Anthony are asking McLaren for a meeting. Speculation is that Hamilton may be asking for an early release from his contract -- if not immediately, than possibly at the end of the season. The Hamiltons are apparently concerned that the champion's personal reputation has been sullied as a result of the team's recent scandals. Anthony maintains that Lewis was merely following team orders, defying his own moral code in taking Ryan's advice. He adds that contractual obligations prevented Lewis from offering the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when interviewed by the stewards. The fact that McLaren still faces further sanctions from the incident (including the possible suspension of team boss Martin Whitmarsh) could mean that Hamilton has more leverage in his negotiations.
If Hamilton does get out of his five-year contract, one scenario has him going to Ferrari, who is struggling even more than McLaren this season. We'd wager on Brawn GP making a bid, along with just about every other team as well. Whatever the outcome, we'll keep you posted.
[Sources: The Daily Mail, BBC, The Guardian]