In 1995, a 10-year-old Lewis Hamilton walked up to McLaren team principal Ron Dennis and declared "I want to race for you one day." That fateful moment began a relationship between Hamilton, Dennis, and McLaren which culminated in the 2008 Formula One Championship. A relationship that, at least professionally, has come to an end.
Word from the UK's Telegraph is that Hamilton has left McLaren for the Mercedes-Benz factory team in a three-year deal that could be worth as much as $100 million. The departure of the 27-year-old driver from McLaren marks one of the biggest driver transfers in motorsport in recent memory. Though the German F1 team has won only a single race since returning to the sport in 2010, Hamilton and Mercedes both appear to be betting heavily on the turbocharged 1.6-liter V6 engine specifications for 2014.
The move has major ramifications for both teams. At McLaren, team principal Martin Whitmarsh said they had "no plan B" for their lead driver, however, it has already announced Mexican driver Sergio Perez as Hamilton's replacement in 2013.
The more controversial fallout is that Hamilton now replaces Michael Schumacher for next season. The seven-time World Champion first retired from Ferrari at the end of the 2006 season, returning to the sport in 2010 with Mercedes, where he has struggled. In reaction to the announcement, Schumi said that he would concentrate on the remaining races this season, and that he wished Hamilton well.
Hamilton's recent history with McLaren has been highlighted by salary disputes and comments on team tactics. Telegraph writer Tom Cary openly ponders the influence of XIX Entertainment – The London-based firm represents Hamilton, and stands to make more money from the new contract. As for Schumacher, there is no word on his plans after the current Formula 1 season.