A decision over Lewis Hamilton's future is set to be taken in the run-up to the Singapore Grand Prix, with reports suggesting that it is now 'no better than a 50-50 chance' that he will stay with McLaren.
Less than a fortnight after rumours of a switch to Mercedes appeared, the Daily Mail
, reports that an offer on the table from the Brackley-based team to become its 'undisputed number one' has led to Hamilton giving serious consideration to leaving the team that has guided his career since he was still involved in karting.
McLaren are rumoured to have offered Hamilton a new deal on reduced terms while Mercedes are said to be prepared to not only match his current wage, but offer a range of bonuses which could increase the figure.
“The 2008 world champion is understood to have been shocked by McLaren's unwillingness to at least match his current salary,” the Sportsmail
article read, “the major sticking point being the perceived undervaluing of his image rights which he must sign away to their army of sponsors.”
The report also suggests that the fact that Mercedes has just a single victory since purchasing the Brawn team ahead of the 2010 season isn't a cause of concern.
“Finances aside, Hamilton is understood to be excited by the prospect of working at Mercedes under Brawn, the man who helped guide Michael Schumacher to seven world titles at Benetton and Ferrari,” the report reads. “…Hamilton is understood to be satisfied that, with Brawn at the helm and the backing of one of the planet's biggest car manufacturers, Mercedes can provide him with a car capable of realising his dream of emulating Ayrton Senna's record of three world titles.”
Rumours about a possible move to Mercedes for Hamilton come despite Michael Schumacher having taken no decision about his future beyond the current season.
The seven-time champion came out of retirement in 2010 in a three-year deal that expires at the end of 2012, with reports in Germany suggesting that the former Benetton and Ferrari man had been offered a one-year extension.
Should Hamilton secure a deal with Mercedes, McLaren has already admitted that there is 'no Plan b' although a number of drivers – including Paul di Resta and Heikki Kovalainen – have been mentioned as possible replacements.