Contrary to widespread belief it was Hamilton who sought a one year deal with the team and while only yesterday he was suggesting that he intends to remain in the sport, there is increasing speculation that he will walk away at season end, eighth title or no eighth title.
Following his performance in last year's Sakhir Grand Prix, there was already speculation linking George Russell with a move up to Mercedes, while at Red Bull, Christian Horner has admitted that there is concern over whether the team can keep hold of Max Verstappen should the RB16B prove not to be up to the task of beating the W12.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, McLaren boss, Zak Brown claims the deal is as good as done and that 2022 will see Verstappen and Russell line up on the grid for the German team.
"I think you will see Max and George there in 2022," says the American. "I think that is the obvious conclusion.
"Lewis wins title eight this year and is the winningest driver," he continues, "they have a one-year deal with him. George is coming out of his deal and Max has a deal he comes out of.
"You have Max's experience and youth, you have George's youth," he adds, "if I am Mercedes that is a pretty killer line-up for the next five years.
"The interesting thing is what do Red Bull do? That's a harder one to answer. It's tough for them. Everyone is locked down.
"Lewis has spent his entire career with Mercedes," the American continues, convinced that the Briton wouldn't be interested in a move to Milton Keynes, "either through the works team or with McLaren. Michael Schumacher was fundamentally a Ferrari man - though he ended up with Mercedes - Lewis has this opportunity to be a career Mercedes man so I don't know why he would move."
However, Brown insists that should Hamilton opt to remain in the sport, but merely leave Mercedes, there would be no vacancy at the team that brought him into the sport.
"Where we are today, no, because we are really happy with Daniel and Lando and have them under long-term contracts," says Brown.
"You feel if you brought Lewis back now it would be for a one or two-year journey and we know we are not ready to compete for championships."
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