There's no plan B... McLaren chief Whitmarsh gambles on Hamilton signing new deal

By Sportsmail Reporter

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Martin Whitmarsh has surprisingly revealed there is no plan B should Lewis Hamilton decide to quit McLaren.

It would appear McLaren's team principal is placing all his eggs in one basket, firmly believing Hamilton will not walk out on a team that has taken care of his career for the last 14 years.

The Italian Grand Prix this weekend was a reminder to Hamilton - if it were ever needed - of just how good his life is at McLaren, even if he believes he has not won the number of titles his talent deserves with the Woking-based marque.

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton after the Italian Grand Prix at Monza
Martin Whitmarsh, the Team Principal of McLaren

Plenty to think about: McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh (right) has said there is no plan B should Lewis Hamilton (left) decide to leave the team

It was a reminder to Whitmarsh, too, he has one of the top three drivers in the world on his books and the team should do everything within their financial means to hold on to him.

The 27-year-old was flawless in Monza, following up the 23rd pole of his F1 career with his 20th victory to close the gap on championship leader Fernando Alonso to 37 points with seven grands prix remaining.

It led to Whitmarsh yesterday describing as 'fantasy' the suggestions made by former team principal Eddie Jordan last week that Hamilton had already signed for rivals Mercedes and an announcement of the deal was imminent.

But there are no guarantees Hamilton will stay as it is known his management company, impresario Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment, are talking to Mercedes.

Heading for victory: Hamilton was back to his best at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza over the weekend

Heading for victory: Hamilton was back to his best at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza over the weekend

So when asked whether there was a back-up plan should Hamilton opt not to renew his contract, Whitmarsh replied: 'I haven't given plan B any thought.

'We want Lewis to stay, and we want him to stay if he wants to stay.

'But in terms of when you are trying to win a championship, I've a number of priorities.

'You divide your time, energy and focus on those things - one of them is making the car faster, better; another is dealing with all the operational issues to make sure you don't make mistakes, and the other is dealing with your own drivers.

'But rightly or wrongly I haven't spent a lot of energy on that (plan B) subject.'

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton wins the Italian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the Italian Grand Prix

Star attraction: Whitmarsh and McLaren know they have one of the top three drivers on the Formula One circuit

Whitmarsh is, however, determined to sit down with Fuller for more talks, hopefully before the next race in Singapore in a fortnight's time.

Fuller has been in New York of late watching another of his clients in action in Andy Murray in the US Open, so no progress has been made these past few days.

'As you know we deal with management companies, not directly with drivers, which is the way of the world - or the way of the drivers - so I'm sure we'll be having those conversations very shortly,' said Whitmarsh.

'I can imagine we'll have some conversations before Singapore.'

It would appear such talks have taken on added priority given the interest from Mercedes, but Whitmarsh insists he has been aware all along of what has been going on behind the scenes.

'I'm aware of quite a lot of things,' said Whitmarsh.

'It's a small paddock and they (XIX) have to be seen to do their due diligence, as you can imagine, so I'm not surprised.

'I have some knowledge, in fact, of what's been going on.'

Champagne moment: Hamilton celebrates in the usual fashion on the podium at Monza

Champagne moment: Hamilton celebrates in the usual fashion on the podium at Monza

To that end, the pressure on the shoulders of Whitmarsh from shareholders and sponsors is likely to be immense because can McLaren realistically afford to be without Hamilton, despite the talents of team-mate Jenson Button?

Whitmarsh said: 'McLaren has, since 1966, won 25 per cent of all the races, and if you are team principal of McLaren there is a certain amount of pressure on your shoulders. That's what I'm facing.

'We have to win races and we have to win the championship. There are all sorts of other issues, but that's what makes the adrenaline pump and makes it fun.'

On track at Monza was certainly fun, although a fuel issue with Button's car denied McLaren a one-two and the perfect weekend.

Regardless, it is three successive poles and victories for McLaren, who have become the team to beat, yet they still cannot overtake Alonso in the drivers' championship, nor Red Bull in the constructors', although the latter gap is down to 19 points.

But Whitmarsh said: 'Our recent run is a consequence of fantastic work from everyone at Woking.

'It's a combination of creativity, diligence and working hard that has brought us into a competitive position, and then we've two great drivers.

'We've been talking about some positive momentum, we've clearly some good momentum at the moment, and if we can maintain it there is no reason why we can't win both championships.'

 


 

 

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Mclaren has potentially cost Lewis the championship this year, no doubt, but the errors do not seem to have been malicious. As long as no malice was involved, moving from Mclaren to Mercedes could turn out to be the biggest gamble of Lewis' career. You reach your peak as a champion at 28. The best thing is for Lewis to remain at Mclaren for another 2 or 3 years and move to Mercedes if he's unable to fulfil his dream of picking up the other 2 titles. that would be the right thing to do, imo.

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Give him an ultimatum Martin, SIGN or GO.

Click to rate     Rating   3

Give him an ultimatum Martin, SIGN or GO.

Click to rate     Rating   3

There is nothing new in this. It is what used to be referred to in F1 as "silly season", when all the teams and drivers - or in this case drivers' management teams - would be negotiating for the best package for the next season. Whatever another team offers can be used as leverage to negotiate a better deal with the current team if they want to keep the driver and if the driver wants to stay with that team. If not, they have the backup option of moving away to the team offering the best deal. I think Lewis and Jenson should both stay at McLarenl; they make a great team. It's always been the case that one driver has a run of good luck while his team-mate has a run of bad. That's life, and it's certainly F1. Luck soon switches around and you have to make the best of it.

Click to rate     Rating   1

Sergio Perez would make a fantastic McLaren driver for 2013.

Click to rate     Rating   5

McLaren not having a Plan B. Come on Martin your having a laugh !!

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He is not going anywhere !!

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I'm not bothered where lewis goes, but I love the knock on effect its having to all f1 in the second part of the season. Drivers all down the pit lane driving possessed to win possible seats elsewhere, possible Perez to ferrari, Di resta to maclaren , where does maldanado go ? etc, what a fabulous and delicious ending to the season it could be, its wide open and great to watch... this is entertainment after all

Click to rate     Rating   11

Lewis Hamilton = Kevin Pietersen on wheels. - The Full English, Shropshire, United Kingdom, 10/09/2012 14:25 The Full English = clueless

Click to rate     Rating   3

This comes down to whether he wants to be a legend at McLaren or wants more money and win maybe a championship. Compared to the many chances of taking the title at McLaren.

Click to rate     Rating   7

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