and Lewis Hamilton
are the "kings" of the 2013 driver market, according to the headline in the Spanish sports newspaper AS. As such, the media is hanging on their every word. Hamilton's latest quote is that, while yet to put pen to paper for next season, he is "happy" with McLaren
. But insiders insist he is very seriously weighing-up a huge financial offer from Mercedes
Writing for Reuters, journalist Alan Baldwin said the 2013 driver market is "stalled" until the 2008 world champion "makes up his mind". The move would have implications all over the paddock, including at Ferrari
, where some potential replacements for Felipe Massa
might also be waiting to see if equal number 1 status with McLaren's Jenson Button
is also an option.
Schumacher is also caught up in the drama, with some believing Hamilton has the power to push the great seven time world champion back into retirement. But the signs are that Schumacher is staying. Germany's Bild newspaper claims the 43-year-old's latest personal sponsor deal - with the Chinese electronic navigation company Erlinyou - is worth a staggering EUR 7.5 million.
Surely the company would not pay such a high price for a driver on the verge of slipping back into the shadows? Asked recently if the new deal indeed indicates he is set to extend his career beyond his 44th birthday, Schumacher answered: "This has nothing to do with my future."
True or not, the F1 world may not know the answer for some time. Britain's Sun newspaper claims Hamilton - like Schumacher - could delay his final decision until October. Asked if 'M' stands for McLaren or Mercedes, Briton Hamilton answered: "M for McLaren at the moment." (GMM)