Heikki Kovalainen believes that Lewis Hamilton's decision to forsake McLaren in favour of Mercedes next season was not driven by financial rewards, despite reports of protracted contract negotiations with the former.
The Finn says that he was aware of his former team-mate's option with both teams before Hamilton surprised the paddock by signing with Mercedes, but insists that there was no wrong decision to be made, with both offering the 2008 world champion a positive future.
“Ultimately, I was little surprised,” he told Gulf News
, “I knew that it was between those two teams, and that the Mercedes option was serious, but I didn't know what he was going to do.
"It wasn't a bad situation though - both teams are good. If you have Mercedes and McLaren contracts on the table, either way, it's not a bad choice. My feeling is that Lewis felt he needed a change, to try something different. I'm sure the deciding factor for him was not money - I think he probably saw somewhere else that, ultimately, he can win more.
“The fact is McLaren have good, quick cars, but perhaps he's not been able to win as much as he was hoping for - and I'm sure McLaren won't have been happy with their results either.”
Hamilton has seen his hopes of a second world title diminish after Red Bull returned to race-winning form in the 'flyaway' races that followed on from Monza, and currently sits fifth in the drivers' standings. Although he has three victories to his name this year, the Briton's last win came in Italy, although a potential success in Singapore went begging, allowing Sebastian Vettel to start a four-race winning streak that looks likely to secure the German a third straight championship. Mercedes, meanwhile, has not scored a point since Nico Rosberg claimed fifth place in the Singapore Grand Prix, and could find its fifth place in the constructors' standings under threat from Sauber over the final three rounds.