Formula One is no stranger to the rumour mill – over the years, we've had speculation that Michael Schumacher would be racing for Brawn GP in 2009, Sergio Perez pinching Felipe Massa's seat at Ferrari at some point, Robert Kubica returning to the sport in 2014, and so on.
The latest speculation to hit the headlines has been in response to the BBC's pundit and former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan's assumption that Lewis Hamilton will be moving to the Mercedes team in 2013.
Now, I do admit I'm in no real position to assert my authority on this matter, because I simply don't have that much credibility to my name at this moment in time. (one of my other written musings on the web was once mistaken for the work of the BBC Radio 5 Live commentator I share my name with, but that's about as far up the F1 expert pecking order as I go!) However, being an avid long-time fan of Formula One, I do believe I know enough about sport to lay down the claim that all of this 'Hamilton moving to Mercedes' talk is a load of rubbish.
And not just because it's something that the mildly-eccentric Irishman reckons 'could' happen at some point.
I'll be completely honest here: I'm by no means Hamilton's biggest fan. However, I admire the guy's sheer speed and determination; that drive to succeed and become the best of the best. It's a trait all the F1 greats have and, in the modern world of Formula One racing, the only way to lead the pack and end up being crowned champion is if you have one of the best – or, better still, the best – cars on the grid.
With McLaren, Hamilton has that at his disposal, and thus to his advantage. Yes, the car's performance does seem to fluctuate from time to time, but you don't win three Grand Prix if your car isn't competitive. Heck, you don't end up being second in the Drivers' standings if the device you're fielding isn't up to the challenge.
And, in the grand scheme of things, that's the main thing an F1 driver wants: the means of scoring decent points, possibly even a few wins and the chance to be crowned champion. I expect that's especially the case with success-craving Hamilton, who hasn't won the title in over three years.
So why would he want to move to Mercedes? After all, it's an outfit that has only won one race since the three-pointed star's return to F1 in 2010, and is currently languishing quite a way behind the top four teams. Yes, this is mostly down to Schumacher's sheer bad luck (his 43 points this year do not, in my mind, represent the German's capability), but Mercedes still has a long way to go before it's emulating the success of its former incarnation, 'Brawn'.
Yes, Mercedes is allegedly offering a larger sum of money than McLaren can muster – some sources are suggesting as much as £60 million over three years in return for Hamilton's services as a 'Silver Arrow' pilot – but racing drivers do not win titles by accepting fat pay cheques from 'best of the rest' teams. They win by proving their worth and/or using the best car available to them at the time.
Which Mercedes simply do not have.
Of course, this may change next year. Mercedes could very well build a championship winning car in 2013, and perhaps even throughout the remainder of the current season if what the engineers are saying about the new parts being previewed at the Magny-Cours test is true. But that's to be taken with a pinch of salt – after all, they said they'd be championship contenders this year. And last year. And the year before that. You get the picture.
Basically, what I'm saying is that all this chat by 'F1 experts' (I'm looking at you in particular, chief BBC F1 writer Andrew Benson!), stating that Hamilton will be heading off to Mercedes soon is poppycock. Yes, McLaren could falter and Mercedes could rise to dominance next year, and the amount of dosh they're supposedly offering is very enticing, but Lewis would be a fool to opt for the German outfit because he'll get more money off of them and there may be the chance they'll have a competitive car for him next year.
I mean, why put a higher rank in the Forbes richlist ahead of winning races and championships? Hamilton may show be a tad foolish at times (that telemetary Tweet certainly wasn't a smart move), but he ain't an idiot. Why agree to a contract with a team that might or might not give you the car that best reflects your ability, when you could stay put with the outfit that's nurtured you for the past 18 years and will be more likely be able to provide you with a more-than-capable car throughout the rest of 2012 and at least a decent portion of 2013?
It genuinely does baffle me sometimes that experts in the field can say Hamilton will abandon a team that's been right at the top of the pile for the last few years, on the basis that 'they can't offer him as much money as Mercedes'. Do they really think the 2008 World Champion is that shallow and selfish that he'll put up with what could be an 'inferior car' because he'll have more dosh to spend on treats and luxuries?
In the end, though, it is Hamilton's choice (that is, if he hasn't decided who he'll be driving for next year as of yet) over his future, and if he does depart from McLaren, I will humbly eat my words and vow to never comment on speculative predictions in Formula One for the rest of my days.
But, if Lewis does end up staying put where he is for the 2013 season, not only would it end up proving all the sources and reporters who were "in the know" wrong, but it might teach the motorsports press a very valuable lesson: don't ever jump on the "Let's classify this as news, even though the story started out life as someone's unverified and highly controversial claim" bandwagon!