With just a few races remaining on the 2012 calendar, Formula One now heads into its “silly season,” where drivers on the bubble scramble to find rides for next year, while top-shelf stars near the end of existing contracts quietly shop their wares among other (presumably higher-paying) teams.
While rumors of Lewis Hamilton’s departure from McLaren have been circulating for months, it was hard to imagine the British driver moving to another squad. That’s why the news of Hamilton’s departure comes as such a surprise, especially since he’s headed to Mercedes (who currently supplies engines for McLaren). Taking Hamilton’s place alongside Jenson Button (who’s staying put for 2013) will be Sergio Perez, an impressive driver with lots of talent who has lacked a winning car to date.
As you may have guessed, Hamilton will be replacing Michael Schumacher at Mercedes, who will once again hang up his Nomex at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Hamilton will race alongside Nico Rosberg (a friend and former teammate from Hamilton’s karting days) at the Mercedes squad.
Perez’s departure leaves a vacancy at Sauber, a team that has shown a bit of promise in 2012. Don’t expect to see a big-name driver chosen to fill that seat, even though Ferrari’s Felipe Massa will likely be out of a job at the end of the season.