Well one way or another Lewis is gone. With Alonso deeply entrenched at Ferrari and Vettel likewise at RBR, it's not likely that Ron will be able to bring in a comparable driver any time soon.
We are not privy to the details of the negotiation but I agree that there seemed to be undertones of a lack of respect and appreciation coming from Ron. One can only speculate but it seemed like Ron expected to be able to perpetually maintain the relationship in its initial state (Lewis as a young driver needing an opportunity and Ron as the guy that provides that opportunity). The relationship had changed though and, particularly this season, McLaren have been more of a hindrance to Hamilton's title chances than a help.
Ron needed to acknowledge that. He needed to court Lewis and try to entice him into signing with the team again. He took for granted that Lewis would want to stay and that was a mistake. Mercedes were willing to offer a massive pay increase while Ron was talking about a pay cut. He seemed to have a sense of entitlement. He seemed to think that Lewis would be obligated to stay and stay under Ron's terms.
A big part of what I believe to be the underlying factor is the attitude of the team. McLaren seem to shoot themselves in the foot more than anyone because they have failed to embrace the reality that in F1, you need to put your best driver in the best position possible to win. Red Bull certainly do it with Vettel and Ferrari do it with Alonso. You need your top guy to have full support and really build the team and car around him. McLaren insist on this notion of equality and all it really does is hinder the faster guy. With Ross Brawn, the one thing Hamilton knows is that his title chances will be maximized every year.
That misses one very big point, McLaren is a business. it exists to race, to win and to also make money for it's shareholders.
It does not exist to stroke one mans ego.
Decisions need to be made, we are not privy to the inner workings so we do not know the reasons behind them. So if Ron wasn't willing to be bent over and take everyone of Lewis' demands. It's his business and he pulls the strings. At the end of the day the team starts next year with a proven WDC and a hot new prospect. For McLaren that is hardly a doom and gloom scenario.
As for Ross brawn he's already stated No #1 neither is he some sort of Golden Bullet that guarantees success. .
Stroking an ego has nothing to do with it. It's about winning titles (something McLaren has struggled to do in recent years). Make no mistake, Alonso wouldn't be in with a chance at the title this year (nor 2010 for that matter) if Ferrari went out of their way to make sure that he and Felipe were treated with complete equality. The amount of times that Felipe has moved over for Fernando or compromised his race strategy for him over these last 3 years is staggering. Fernando has complete support from Ferrari and thus, even without the best car, his title chances are maximized. He is scoring the most points that he possibly could and that is what allows him to compete with the Bulls.
Red Bull is similar although not nearly in as blatant a fashion. The team is clearly built around Vettel and the car is tailored to his strengths wherever possible. They have tried not to be obvious about favoritism but I think, at times, they have given themselves away.
At McLaren, on the other hand, the team insists on the drivers having equality and freedom to compete with each other. This results in neither
driver maximizing their results and the team being unable to win titles even with a truly competitive car.
In 2007, had they backed either Alonso or Hamilton completely, they would have taken the title. In 2010, Hamilton might have won the title even with a slower car had they provided him with #1 status (there were multiple races where he finished one place behind Jenson). There were even times like last year in Canada where Hamilton was taken out of the race after a collision between him and Jenson.
McLaren is a business. You're right about that but unfortunately, they seem to want not only to win but to do so while maintaining the appearance that it was the car and not the drivers who deserve the lion's share of the credit. That desire works against the goal of actually winning the titles. Here we are at the final race of the partnership between Lewis and Jenson and what has all this bending over backwards to ensure equality achieved? Absolutely nothing! Not a single title in 3 years despite having the best driver line-up in the field!