McLaren's hopes of retaining Lewis Hamilton are fading with reports he could be lured to Mercedes by big money and the chance to work with Ross Brawn.
In the wake of the Belgian GP reports emerged claiming that Hamilton is off to Mercedes next season to replace the retiring Michael Schumacher. All parties, though, were quick to deny.
The rumours refused to die down with Hamilton questioned about the matter several times during the Monza weekend. The Brit refused to give a 'yes' or 'no' answer, adamant he's focusing on the title race and his management team on his future.
XIX Entertainment, Hamilton's representatives, are believed to be locked in negotiations with McLaren while having also spoken to Mercedes about the British driver.
And while Sportsmail claims McLaren are only willing to offer Hamilton a deal "worth considerably less than his existing £15million-a-year terms", Mercedes have put an offer on the table that matches his "current deal while bonuses could push the sum towards £60m over three years."
Hamilton, the report claims, is "shocked by McLaren's unwillingness to at least match his current salary."
But it's not all about the money.
Added to it Mercedes have sweetened the deal by offering Hamilton "undisputed" number one status while the 27-year-old is "excited by the prospect of working at Mercedes under Brawn."
The report continued saying that, despite just one win in three seasons for Mercedes, Hamilton is "understood to be satisfied that, with Brawn at the helm and the backing of one of the planet's biggest car manufacturers, Mercedes can provide him with a car capable of realising his dream of emulating Ayrton Senna's record of three World titles.
"Key to this belief is the fact that Mercedes, along with Ferrari and Renault, are developing the new V6 turbo engine scheduled to be used in Formula One from 2014.
"Brawn admitted that while McLaren will remain a Mercedes customer, the fact his is the 'works team' means they are privy to all of the research and development of the new engine and are therefore better placed to design their car around it."
As for Brawn's point of view, the Mail says he views Hamilton as the "final piece of the jigsaw" needed to put Mercedes at the front of the pack.
Meanwhile, Swiss publication Blick has put forward Sergio Perez as Hamilton's possible replacement at McLaren after the Sauber driver raced to a very impressive runner-up result behind the Brit at last Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.
Although the 22-year-old is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Scuderia president Luca di Montezemolo recently said he won't race for him next season as Perez needs "more experience", paving the way for McLaren to swoop in.