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Hamilton in Mercedes switch

Lewis Hamilton can thank Michael Schumacher's indecisiveness for allowing Mercedes to pull off a signing coup and push the seven-times champion towards the brink of retirement for a second time.

Hamilton will replace 43-year-old Schumacher at Mercedes from next season after signing a three-year deal worth a reported £15m per season, ending his 14-year association with McLaren.

For Schumacher, six years after calling it a day first time around, the exit is looming again, although there are rumours he could yet replace Sergio Perez at Sauber after the Mexican's switch to McLaren, while an 'upstairs' role at Mercedes is also a possibility.

But it is said that Schumacher's dithering on whether to re-sign with Mercedes for 2013 opened the door for the Brackley-based team to poach Hamilton.

Fearing Schumacher would say no and with only slim pickings available, Mercedes pushed for Hamilton, winning out in the battle of the contracts with McLaren.

Irish Independent