‘Brand Hamilton’ and wily Fuller driving intrigue
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has hinted Lewis Hamilton’s management is in the driving seat of the current situation surrounding the 2008 world champion’s unknown future.
Eddie Jordan was the one who dropped the Mercedes bombshell, but seasoned insiders are sensing the intrigue is really being steered by Simon Fuller, the wily Spice Girls manager who through his XIX Entertainment arm now handles Hamilton’s career. It is easy to surmise the Mercedes story was planted simply to ramp up Hamilton’s 2013 price-tag, but it may not be just about that. Indeed, Jordan – who is reportedly close to Fuller – said he suspects the Mercedes link is about ‘brand Hamilton’. "Fuller is trying to position Hamilton as a major global star like Beckham, and Mercedes is a much bigger global brand than McLaren," said the British television pundit and former F1 team owner.
McLaren team boss Whitmarsh agrees: "Lewis and his team are very interested in the Hamilton brand and providing anything that happens doesn’t distract him from being a race driver, we are 100 per cent relaxed about it. "We are not at odds over that." McLaren, though, famously guards the drivers’ corporate and even personal images, and their ability to exploit and explore them. "The life I have had has been very controlled and I am taking control of it," Hamilton said earlier this week. "I am allowing myself to get who I am out, rather than the corporate McLaren driver some people want you to be." That would put into context the recent ‘WTF’ and secret telemetry ‘Twittergate’ affairs.
And just before that controversy exploded, the British driver also let his million Twitter followers know recently about the serious illness of his auntie. "I think Lewis had a personal issue at a time when it’s possible we put a lot of pressure on him — and it probably was not appropriate to put a lot of pressure in that particular moment, because of his personal situation," Whitmarsh told F1’s official website at Monza.
And keeping a firm grip on the entire situation, is the wily Fuller. "This team is a pretty good place for him to be," Whitmarsh told the BBC. "I know that but he (Hamilton) has got to believe that and more importantly, at the moment, his management have got to believe that."
Info: GMM, Image: McLaren