Yes, you read that correctly. Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton left the McLaren stable after 2012 to join the Mercedes camp and took a pay cut in doing so.
Hamilton has spent his entire career up until this season with McLaren. He made his debut on the Formula One circuit in 2007 with the team and finished second in the driver point standings in his rookie season including four victories.
In just his second season, he won the world championship over Felipe Massa by just one point. He had five wins out of eighteen races that season at Australia, Monaco, Great Britain, Germany, and China. Massa had six wins.
Hamilton even has broken several records in his young career with McLaren. He has the most consecutive podium finishes from his debut, he is the youngest driver to lead the World Championship, has the most wins in his debut season (tied with Jacques Villenueve), has the most pole positions in his debut season and the most points in a debut season.
Since then he has finished fourth in the world championship twice and fifth twice. In the off season he felt it was time for a change. He left for the Mercedes camp looking to get back in contention for the world championship.
“At McLaren it was usually that I would win four or five races but never the title at the end. This gave me the feeling that, for the long term, I’d rather go somewhere else,” Hamilton said.
Over the weekend it was read that Hamilton told a German magazine, Focus, that McLaren’s offer was more lucrative than the offer made by Mercedes insisting that his decision to leave McLaren means he’s sacrificed a pay cut.
So the decision clearly wasn’t about money, but rather the inspiration to win more than just a handful of races per season. It was about Hamilton’s desire to win another championship.