Telephone number salaries driving F1 market, says McLaren

© F1 Pulse, 5 March 2013
© AP Photo/Miguel Angel Morenatti

McLaren will soldier on despite losing its star driver and technical director to rivals Mercedes, as the British team has been unable to fight back with the current state of the Formula 1 market.

Lewis Hamilton’s departure from McLaren has been believed to be on the basis of the Briton being offered a higher salary at Mercedes and freedom to exercise his personal sponsors as well.

And if this wasn’t enough, Paddy Lowe’s exit was for similar reasons.

"People are prepared to pay exotic salaries and wait 12 or 18 months, or longer in some cases. That's the state of the market," McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale was quoted saying by Reuters.

"It would be disappointing if we weren't regarded as a place to hire good people because then I wouldn't be doing my job. The real test is whether we have got a system in place to pick up people from underneath, and I believe we have," he added.

"In the market place at the moment, if you've a team and you want to go out and buy some short-term know-how then you can pay telephone number salaries. If that's what your business model is. From time to time we have all done it," Neale explained.

McLaren is, however, sure that it will be unaffected by recent changes.

"I didn't come here (at McLaren) because Paddy was here, I didn't come here because Lewis was here," said Jenson Button who left Brawn at the end of 2009. "I came here because this is McLaren, with its heritage and history - a word we always use, but it is the truth - and its strength in depth.

"It's not about one individual, it's about the full team, and Paddy leaving is part of the sport, people move around and go to different places. This team will succeed with or without Paddy in the future," said the former world champion.

Mercedes is yet to confirm Lowe’s signing although McLaren sporting director Sam Michael let it slip that the technical head was indeed moving to the German manufacturer.

"He has taken his choice to move to Mercedes and we wish him all the best," Michael told Sky Sports.


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