Lewis Hamilton could swap one shade of silver for another next season, if rumours emanating from the build-up to this weekend's Italian Grand Prix
are to be believed.
With the Briton's negotiations with McLaren
showing no sign of resolution, and Michael Schumacher yet to make an announcement regarding his future with Mercedes beyond the end of the current F1 campaign, former team boss-turned-BBC
analyst Eddie Jordan expects Hamilton to make the switch.
"I believe Hamilton and Mercedes have already agreed personal terms and a deal could be imminent," the outspoken Irishman claimed, "Some weeks ago, I said on TV that I felt Lewis was on the move and I had an idea at the time he had been speaking to Ferrari, which we now know is true. But I can now confirm his people have had meetings with Mercedes.
"Bernie Ecclestone made it clear to me live on television on Sunday that Schumacher was leaving, although Schumacher later played it down. But it would appear Michael is leaving and Lewis is arriving at Mercedes.
"Hamilton has not agreed terms with McLaren
yet. In fact, the team have made it clear they cannot offer him as big a salary as his current $15m deal, which was negotiated before the global financial crisis.
"On top of that, McLaren
have to pay for their Mercedes engines for the first time next year. Hamilton moving to Mercedes would also make a lot of sense in the context of his manager Simon Fuller, the man behind the Spice Girls and now David Beckham. Fuller is trying to position Hamilton as a major global star, like Beckham, and Mercedes is a much bigger global brand than McLaren.
"There has been some uncertainty over Mercedes' position in F1. The board is unhappy at the current performance of the team, but getting Hamilton would undoubtedly be a massive coup and it could give the F1 team some breathing space."
On current form, swapping McLaren
for Mercedes would appear to be a step backwards for Hamilton, but there is no doubt that the latter has the resources to move up the grid in coming years. The Briton, however, dented his hopes of remaining at Woking by tweeting sensitive telemetry data after failing to match team-mate Jenson Button
in qualifying at Spa on Saturday, and is rumoured to be unhappy at the team's inability to give him a car that can consistently challenge at the front of the field.
Hamilton dropped to fifth in the championship standings after being taken out of the Belgian Grand Prix
on the opening lap and trails points leader Fernando Alonso
by 44 points with eight rounds remaining.