Whitmarsh: I hope that Hamilton thinks that he’s made an awful mistake

(L to R): Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates with Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer. Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race, Nurburgring, Germany, Sunday 24 July 2011.

Lewis Hamilton with Martin Whitmarsh during happier times

Nov.10 (Reuters) Lewis Hamilton may have had some regrets already about his decision to join Mercedes next season. So says his McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who also added that Sergio Perez probably did not know what is about to hit him as Hamilton’s replacement.

Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber celebrates on the podium. Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday 10 June 2012.“I think he has on occasions, yes,” said Whitmarsh when asked by formula1.com whether 2008 world champion Hamilton, who is replacing retiring seven-time champion Michael Schumacher at Mercedes, might have regretted his decision.

“Probably, when you make a decision you have to tell yourself that the decision is made so you have to look forward. You say okay, that it is in the past so you don’t spend too much time thinking about why.”

Mercedes have won one race, in China this year, since they took over the title-winning Brawn GP team at the end of 2009.

McLaren have won five grands prix this season alone and are the second most successful team in terms of wins in the history of the sport.

Whitmarsh said it would be an emotional farewell with Hamilton after the last race of the season in Brazil later this month and added that there had been some such moments already since the driver decided to leave.

Lewis Hamilton at Korean GP“I hope he thinks today that he’s made an awful mistake and I hope he thinks that next year. He’s made that decision and he has to live with that decision,” said the principal.

Perez is joining from Sauber, where he has had three podium finished this season but has also failed to score a point in the four races since his move to McLaren was announced.

He will be joining 2009 world champion Jenson Button at McLaren and Whitmarsh expected the 22-year-old to learn everything he could from the older Briton.

“When Sergio gets to Australia [for the first race] in 2013 he will arrive with the kind of pressure that he can’t imagine right now,” said the team boss.

“At the first race, if he is not on the first two rows and fighting for a win the pressure will start to ramp. He doesn’t know that yet.”

Whitmarsh said Perez could expect to spend a lot less time in Mexico and a lot more in the simulator, working with engineers and on improving his fitness.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31 locks up his brakes whilst following Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 at the hairpin. Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday 7 October 2012.“He will turn up considerably fitter and stronger than he is today,” he said of next season.

The team boss repeated his view, expressed at the weekend in Abu Dhabi, that while he expected Perez to get the job done he could not be sure of how good he might be.

“You come to McLaren and you’ve got the scrutiny and the pressure,” he said. “And you either do well and survive, or [you] will struggle. You asked me if we are 100 percent sure that he’s the right man for us – I can’t be.

“He has not always been consistent and maybe he has been a bit wild sometimes, but he has sparkled. The really good guys, they always find an opportunity to be there and do it,” added Whitmarsh.

“Natural talent got him to where he is now and now we really will turn him into a professional racing driver, properly prepared.”

Subbed by AJN.

  • Joe Kinnear

    Anything can happen in F1. Jenson and Rubens stayed (in Honda that was later to become Brawn) and what do you know… JB was champ and RB got a taste of the winning again. So maybe Mercedes would really get it together next season and gun for the title.

    Lewis wants a fresh challenge. That’s it. Same reason why Schumi left Benetton and joined Ferrari.. despite the fact that Ferrari were nowhere and Benetton was the “in” team during that time.

    Moving to another team is obviously a big gamble but so is staying.

  • Venezia

    He will regret it as schumi is now!

  • Highstoned

    Lewis needs to move to another team to becom really great. So does finger boi. Maybe Whitmarsh should regret making such a mess of things since 2008…

  • dilman

    Doesn’t everyone make decisions in life that appear illogical to others occasionally? I have changed career a couple of times (not necessarily to financial advantage) and each time it has been a learning experience. I’ve no way of knowing if those decisions were the best ones, they are the ones I chose at the time and I live by the result.

    In F1 the issue of personalities must have a major influence on mind-sets. And this in an industry where serious injury (or worse) to self or others could be the result of one’s day-to-day work. Hence my reluctance to criticize LH.

  • Butterfly

    Reality is starting to sink in at Martin HQ.

    There is something I don’t understand.

    They cared so much about Lewis that they were willing to back-stab Alonso. Fine, I can understand that, but then why didn’t they do absolutely everything possible to keep Lewis? Why did a POS like Button manage to get a foothold in that team.

    These guys don’t know what they want, that’s what’s going on at McLaren. They’re a racing team. Scratch that, they make electronics. No, wait, they do cartoons. Oh, I forgot, they actually make medical equipment. Are they a racing team?

    What a joke.

  • Speedo

    Who made the awful mistake? Lewis by leaving or Whitmarsh by not doing his utmost to restrain him. Did Whitmarsh gamble on Lewis staying as by the time Lewis confirmed to Mercedes it was too late. I for one did not like Lewis leaving McLaren but seeing the dismal performances in the pits early season and reliability of the car since Singapore and Lewis’ reasoning and saying that it is a challenge to do well Merc I agree with Lewis. Further more McLaren have not been able to match the Red Bulls for the last three seasons