Hamilton Mercedes announcement imminent?

News sources in the UK and Germany are reporting that announcements of Michael Schumacher's second retirement and, possibly, confirmation of Lewis Hamilton's arrival are expected from Stuttgart later today.

Schumacher's future has been the subject of much recent speculation but a man who flew to the recent Magny Cours young driver test to assess the gains made by a new exhaust system, did not appear to be a man with final retirement on his mind.

The Mercedes board, meanwhile, was due to discuss its longer term F1 strategy this week and the team has not denied both discussions with and a high regard for Hamilton.

Stories linking Hamilton to a Mercedes switch were broken by the BBC's Eddie Jordan in the week between Spa and Monza and, despite winning in Italy, there appeared to be a frosty atmosphere between Hamilton and the McLaren team.

Since then, it emerged that there were deals on the table for Hamilton to consider from both McLaren and Mercedes, but in Singapore last weekend McLaren appeared much more confident of keeping hold of its man.

Top of the list of potential replacements if Hamilton did go, however, appeared to be Sergio Perez.

Perez has turned in some strong drives in 2012 -- Malaysia and Italy stand out -- and the Mexican has a strong and reliable finishing record. Just as important, however, is that McLaren's title sponsorship agreement with Vodafone comes to an end at the end of 2013 and the company is said to be re-evauating its F1 involvement.

The fact that Perez is backed by Telmex, owned by Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, certainly wouldn't harm his case. While not as strong as a Hamilton/Button line-up, Button/Perez would seem solid, reliable and workable for McLaren.

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