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Brawn: Hamilton just wanted equality

Refutes claims that his driver-to-be wanted to be ‘Mr Big’

Image Credit: EPA
Lewis Hamilton
Gulf News

The testimonials, well, at least one, maybe two, are being handed out even as Lewis Hamilton hovers between a brace of Formula One havens, one of which is, shall we say, disgruntled about his departure and the other gleeful at his arrival.

His boss-to-be at Mercedes, Ross Brawn, has hurriedly extolled his virtues by revealing he did not demand to be treated as his new team’s Mr Big as a condition of exiting rivals McLaren.

Highly respected Brawn, the mastermind behind all seven of legend Michael Schumacher’s titles at Benetton and then Ferrari, is dreaming of an eighth crown with Hamilton at Mercedes.

And he has revealed his £60m (Dh353m) superstar signing, despite the widespread expectation, refused to claim No 1 status as he signs up for next season to replace 43-year-old Schumacher, whose three-year comeback deal with the German outfit is ebbing to an end.

“Lewis never asked for any priority at all; he just wanted equality,” reveals Brawn.

And he added: “He was pleasant in that he had no desires to have any special treatment or any unique facilities. Lewis just expects to have an equal opportunity in the team. And that’s what we would like as well.”

Hamilton’s shock switch from McLaren, the team that painstakingly moulded him as a multi-millionaire Formula One world champion from being a gauche karting kid from a humble background, came after a sequence of squabbles, fall-outs and costly errors among the near London Woking-based team’s pit-lane set-up.

And Manchester man Brawn, himself vastly rich, swiftly moved in with a three-year deal for the disenchanted 2008 champion, much to the anger of the 27-year-old’s McLaren patient mentor Ron Dennis. Brawn has also given Hamilton rights to his own image, a favour denied him by McLaren.

That is a blessing, with so much worldwide sponsorship in the offing, which could treble the take-home pay to his Monaco base.

It was widely suspected in F1 that regular winner and confident high-flyer Hamilton, or his new management team who also look after David Beckham and Andy Murray, would insist on his being classed as top man over his long-time friend and newest teammate Nico Rosberg at Mercedes.

“It was never discussed because Lewis didn’t raise it; and if he had, we probably would not have wanted to do it,” said Brawn.

“I think Lewis and Nico will be a very good combination,” stresses Brawn, “and I see that as a positive. We’ll have the normal situation of drivers trying to beat each other, and we don’t want any driver who doesn’t want to beat his teammate.

But it has to be done in the right way.”

Pointedly, Ron Dennis, who was like a second father to Hamilton and the most influential guiding light in his life and race career, and who confidently, if sadly mistakenly, expected his protegé to remain in the McLaren manor, had nothing to say, one way or the other, about his departure.

And that said it all about his inner feelings.