F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes Lewis Hamilton could be just one lacklustre season away from turning his back on the sport.
The McLaren protégé has endured a turbulent few seasons since taking title glory back in 2008, but failing to perform consistently at that level has only been the tip of the iceberg, as controversy has seemed to follow his every move, most publicly in his recent spat with Ferrari's Felipe Massa and, privately, with his on-off-on relationship with singer Nicole Scherzinger.
Ecclestone fears the decision to continue at Woking may not even be up to Hamilton after he was outclassed by team mate Jenson Button in the same machinery last year.
"I think, if he doesn't perform this year, he'll be looking maybe to move on - and the team may also be looking for him to move on," Ecclestone told BBC Sport.
The blame for his difficulties however can't lie solely at Hamilton's feet, for McLaren is, by its own standards, going through a lean spell, culminating in only one drivers' title in ten years, while failing to achieve a constructors' championship since 1998.
Ecclestone has also been less than complimentary about the 27-year old's choice of management since splitting from his father Anthony Hamilton, insisting that Simon Fuller's XIX Management team is not right for the McLaren man.
"I don't agree with the people he's got surrounding him and so-called 'managing' him.," Ecclestone emphasised, "I think he doesn't need that sort of management. [He needs] someone with their feet on the ground.
"It's a people's job. They don't have to know about technical issues, [they need] someone who, if you've got a problem, can talk to the guy.
"His dad was good, wasn't he? His dad was the right person."
It's not all doom and gloom for Hamilton however, as the F1 general claims that the Briton, apart from personally being in a better place for the upcoming season, will benefit from employing Didier Coton, who formally worked with double world champion Mika Hakkinen.
"I spoke to [Hamilton] the other day and I think he's a bit more focused," Ecclestone concluded.
by Simon Evans