Just five races into his young career, British rookie Lewis Hamilton is already being linked with a shock switch to Ferrari.
The 22-year-old, after making the most successful start to a debut season in the history of formula one, is now at the centre of the Monaco ‘team order’ storm.
Hamilton has even been mentioned as the instigator of the pending FIA investigation, after suggesting to reporters last Sunday that he had been ordered to finish second to Fernando Alonso because he is “the number two driver” at McLaren.
But even though team boss Ron Dennis groomed Hamilton through racing’s junior classes at huge expense, not to mention the existence of a long term contract (to about 2011), British newspaper The Times said there is now “a raft of speculation” hinting at a future link between Lewis and F1’s famous Italian team.
“Paddock wags (are) suggesting that his route to Ferrari is already being ‘lawyered’, on the assumption that Kimi Raikkonen is shown the door,” motor racing correspondent Edward Gorman wrote.
Gorman added that Hamilton’s annual salary could potentially rise from about $500,000 in 2007 to up to $40m “or more” with Ferrari.
The rumour is backed by another British newspaper – the Daily Mail – and its claim that Hamilton was unashamedly “angry” in Monaco when it became clear that he was being asked to sacrifice his lead of the drivers’ championship and settle for second.