FORMER F1 WORLD champions Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of leaving the McLaren team to join Mercedes, according to Eddie Jordan.
The former boss of the Jordan team believes that Hamilton has agreed terms to take over the racing seat of Michael Schumacher, who will retire for a second time at the end of the season.
“I believe Hamilton and Mercedes have already agreed personal terms and a deal could be imminent,” the BBC reports Jordan as saying.
Both Mercedes and the Hamilton camp have remained quiet, while McLaren say they are still negotiating with the 27-year-old over a new deal.
“Negotiations between Lewis Hamilton and McLaren continue,” a spokesman said.
Speculation about Schumacher’s future has been rife since F1 commercial rights owner Bernie Ecclestone hinted at his retirement last Sunday.
Schumacher immediately came out and said he had made no decision about his future, but as far as Jordan is concerned, the writing is on the wall.
“Some weeks ago I said on TV that I felt Lewis was on the move and I had an idea at the time he had been speaking to Ferrari, which we now know is true,” Jordan said.
“But I can now confirm his people have had meetings with Mercedes.
“Bernie Ecclestone made it clear to me live on television on Sunday that Schumacher was leaving, although Schumacher later played it down.
“So it would appear Michael is leaving and Lewis is arriving at Mercedes.
“Hamilton has not agreed terms with McLaren yet.
“In fact the team have made it clear they cannot offer him as big a salary as his current $15m (£9.42m) deal, which was negotiated before the global financial crisis.
“On top of that, McLaren have to pay for their Mercedes engines for the first time next year.
“Hamilton moving to Mercedes would also make a lot of sense in the context of his manager Simon Fuller, the man behind the Spice Girls and now David Beckham.
“Fuller is trying to position Hamilton as a major global star, like Beckham, and Mercedes is a much bigger global brand than McLaren.”