Hamilton’s best at McLaren, says his boss
Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One future was the main talking point in the Monza paddock after the Englishman’s emphatic Italian Grand Prix victory.
Amid speculation that the 2008 world champion might be leaving McLaren at the end of the season to join rival team Mercedes, his victory may well have strengthened the English-based team’s attempts to re-sign him.
The team’s third win in succession catapulted Hamilton to second in the drivers’ standings just 37 points behind championship leader Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso of Spain, while McLaren edged ever closer to threatening Red Bull’s grasp on the constructor’s title.
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh played down the significance Hamilton’s victory might play in future contract talks and insisted the team’s focus was on securing a strong result in Singapore in a fortnight.
“We have proven this weekend that there were reasonable attempts to distract and they have failed,” said Whitmarsh, “so I don’t think there is any distraction, and we have got to carry on trying to win races.”
Whitmarsh argued that Hamilton’s future ambitions would be best served staying with McLaren and remained confident that it was only a matter of time before he would re-sign.
“I think we are working together well. We are a winning team, he is a winning driver and we are a great driver together.”
Meanwhile, Ferrari team chief Stefano Domenicali believes Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen are now a major threat to Fernando Alonso’s hopes of winning a third world championship.
Although Ferrari’s Alonso extended his lead after finishing third at Monza, Domenicali admitted he was wary of the threat posed by both drivers.
Hamilton, champion in 2008, is now just 37 points behind Alonso in the drivers’ title race with Raikkkonen just one point further adrift despite having not won a race.
“I have to respect all of them,” said Domenicali, “I always said Kimi step-by-step is a dangerous driver, and he is getting closer and closer.
“Hamilton, with the car he has now, is very, very strong and we have seen in the last few races that anything can happen. So all the drivers that are in the top five/six I think need to be taken very seriously.”
The Italian also believes the race for the constructor’s championship is now much closer after both Germany’s Sebastian Vettel and Australian Mark Webber retired on Sunday, leaving Red Bull pointless.
Red Bull hold just a 29-point lead over McLaren, with third-placed Ferrari a further 17 points back.© AFP 2013