Lewis Hamilton is to leave McLaren for Mercedes in a three-year deal worth 100 million dollars, British and German media reports said on Friday.
The agreement, expected to be announced later Friday, could spell the end of the Formula One career of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, who is out of contract at Mercedes at the end of the year.
Sources told DPA Mercedes would not be extending Schumacher’s contract, although it is unclear whether the German will go back into retirement or seek a new team.
British newspapers said an announcement could come later on Friday after the Mercedes board had signed a new commercial agreement binding the team to the sport.
The Telegraph said the three-year deal could be worth as much as 100 million dollars.
Both teams were expected to hold news conferences later in the day.
The decision by Hamilton to leave McLaren will be a major blow to the British team, which had offered their driver a new deal.
Hamilton had been with the team since he was 13 years old and won the world championship in 2008.
The 27-year-old has reportedly been told by Mercedes he will be the number one driver, partnering the German Nico Rosberg.
A possible move by Schumacher to another team “is “not an issue today,” his manager Sabine Kehm told DPA. Schumacher returned to Formula One in 2010 after a three-year absence, but has registered only a single podium place with Mercedes since then.
On Thursday, Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn told the BBC that Schumacher had “been a huge asset to the team, he’s really taken us forward.” He added: “I do think Michael contributes an awful lot, so I think the decision for Michael to stay or not continue is a difficult one.
“Obviously he’s very involved in that decision, and discussions are ongoing at the moment.”