Originally posted on The Mark Graham Sports Blog  |  Last updated 9/28/12

VALENCIA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 02: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives the new McLaren MP4-25 for the first time during winter testing at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit on February 2, 2010 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Longtime McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton will leave the team to join Mercedes Formula One for the 2013 Formula One season. Hamilton has been with McLaren since 2007 and during his tenure with the British team, Hamilton became the first black Formula One champion when he won the title in 2008. When Hamilton was 13, McLaren signed Hamilton to a driver development deal with the promise of an F1 seat. “Mercedes-Benz has such an incredible heritage in motorsport, along with a passion for winning which I share,” Hamilton said. “Together, we can grow and rise to this new challenge. I believe that I can help steer the Silver Arrows to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning the world championships.” British media has speculated that Hamilton's new deal with Mercedes is worth almost £60 million, or just under $97 million USD. Hamilton will replace seven time champion Michael Schumacher's seat in Mercedes. Schumacher is expected to retire for a second time. “I have had three nice years with the team which unfortunately did not go as well as we all would have wanted on the sporting side,” the 43-year old Schumacher said. “I wish Lewis well and for the team to achieve the success we worked so hard for in the build-up. I would like to thank the team for their trust and all the guys for their unconditional commitment. I will now concentrate on the next races.” Schumacher could still remain with the Mercedes team in an official capacity. Up and coming Mexican driver Sergio Perez will take over Lewis Hamilton's seat on the McLaren team. Perez became the first Mexican to reach the podium and the first podium finish for Sauber in Malaysia earlier this season.
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