McLaren, with whom Hamilton has spent his entire career in Formula One, have been the favourites to keep hold of their man despite the exit rumours, but the 27-year-old is enticed by Mercedes, who would offer him undisputed number one status and a chance to work with respected team principal Ross Brawn.
The Daily Mail report that Hamilton’s latest offer from McLaren represents ‘considerably less’ than the existing £15m-a-year deal that he currently enjoys, and the 2008 World Champion was expecting to negotiate a pay increase.
His image rights are a particular concern – Hamilton would effectively waive his claim to them in a McLaren deal, but would expect to be remunerated for them accordingly.
Mercedes’ offer, the paper claims, is worth as much as his current contract, but with some lucrative bonuses giving rise to the possibility he could earn as much as £60m over three years.
Mercedes’ hand may be strengthened by the fact that they are developing the engines for the 2014 campaign, and while McLaren will run the same engines, the Mercedes ‘works’ team will have first access to the first research and development data.
Their offer is also believed to come regardless of whether their veteran driver Michael Schumacher announces his retirement at the end of the season, as many suspect he will.
Hamilton, represented by XIX Entertainment, the Simon Fuller-owned company who also look after David Beckham and Andy Murray, will have the final decision, regardless of what is negotiated on his behalf.
And with just seven races remaining on his McLaren contract, time is running low to decide Hamilton’s next move.