Jenson Button has admitted to enjoying the ‘Lewis Hamilton saga’.
Rarely in formula one does even a key driver’s next move attract so much attention or string out for so long, but Briton Hamilton’s future has been the buzz of the F1 paddocks for many months. "I think it’s great," McLaren’s Button said in Singapore.
Hamilton is strongly linked with a big-money move to Mercedes, while Sergio Perez and Paul di Resta are reportedly at the front of the queue to become Button’s new teammate. "Every day I read the papers and the websites, because we all do — even if we say we don’t," Button grinned.
Scot Paul di Resta is regarded as one of the favourites to succeed Hamilton at McLaren, and his manager Richard Goddard also looks after Button. The pair are also friends, living and often cycling together in Monaco. "I am letting Richard do his thing," di Resta said in Singapore. The 26-year-old said being friends with Button is irrelevant. "We are all here to race. We are not here for the social side of it," he said on Thursday. Told that Button would welcome him to McLaren, di Resta added: "I’d still drive over the top of him at the last corner."
Sauber’s Sergio Perez is the other name strongly linked with McLaren, but the Mexican issued a clear "No" on Thursday when asked if he has been in talks already. Some other candidates appear now to be walking away from the saga. Former McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen revealed he is going to kick off talks about a new Caterham deal "this weekend". "There are lots of different rumours but they’re just that, rumours," he told the London Evening Standard. The Finn, also linked with Sauber, hinted that Hamilton’s decision has little to do with his own future. "At the end, I doubt he (Hamilton) will have much influence on what I’ll do but I’ve not spoken to him and I don’t know if he has made any sort of decision or not," said Kovalainen.
Nico Rosberg has also effectively ruled himself out of the action, insisting he has a Mercedes contract for 2014. The German scoffed at claims he and Hamilton could swap places, insisting that "would make no sense at all". "As to whether Michael (Schumacher) or Lewis will be my teammate in 2013, I have no more information than all the others in the paddock," said Rosberg. Indeed, the Mercedes situation is much simpler, with the seat next to Rosberg to either be filled by Schumacher or Hamilton. "There is nothing new," said the seven time world champion on Thursday, echoing Hamilton’s similar silence. But Germany’s Bild newspaper reports that, if Hamilton says ‘yes‘ to the Brackley based team, Mercedes will farewell Schumacher ‘with a heavy heart‘. Hamilton and Schumacher are saying very little for now. Asked by Bild if he is looking forward to Mercedes’ 2013 car, Schumacher answered: "We will see. Sorry."