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MARCH 15, 2011

Will Hamilton look to Red Bull?

The news that Lewis Hamilton has inked a management deal with Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment Group, which also manages British sporting stars footballer David Beckham and tennis player Andy Murray, has heightened speculation that he may be considering a future away from McLaren Mercedes.

Hamilton has been nurtured and mentored by McLaren since he was a 10-year-old karting star and, uniquely, was able to compete for the world championship in a front-running McLaren in his debut season in 2007. He took the championship the following year but had a tough start to '09 with an uncompetitive car and, although he was in the title fight until the Abu Dhabi showdown last year, it was generally acknowledged that the McLaren was not a match for the Red Bull or, to a lesser extent, the Ferrari.

With a McLaren contract until the end of 2012, Hamilton was in no hurry to sign a management deal after falling out with his father Anthony, but that has now changed with the arrival of Fuller, suggesting that there is work to be done.

Ferrari is an obvious target for any top driver but while Fernando Alonso is there, the chances of Hamilton going to Maranello seems remote. At Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel has just extended his contract to the end of 2014 but Mark Webber's deal with the team currently finishes at the end of 2011. With the team making moves to ensure stability by also tying up key members of its technical team including Adrian Newey, you would imagine that a Red Bull seat for Hamilton could be high up on Fuller's list of priorities, especially if Lewis finds himself unable to fight for a second title in 2011.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Associated Press: "You would think he is not going to be happy if he has another barren year, but that's not to say we are looking for Lewis to come to our team."