Jan.29 (PVM) Lewis Hamilton will remember 2011 as a season where he coped a great deal of flak for both his on track and off track exploits, by his own admission he was in a ‘wrong place’ at times, but despite this his greatest advocate continues to be McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Whitmarsh was full of praise for the team’s 2008 Formula 1 world champion, “Lewis won three grands prix in 2011, one of only three drivers to have won more than a single race. The other two were Sebastian [Vettel] and Jenson [Button].”
“Again, just as most teams have never and will never win six grands prix in a single season, as McLaren did last year, it’s equally true to say most drivers have never and will never win three grands prix in a single season, as Lewis did last year.”
“Indeed, some of the most compelling highlights of last season’s on-track action, from the point of view of a racer’s sheer talent shining through, were provided by Lewis. In China, Germany and Abu Dhabi, and in many other places besides, he was awesomely impressive, “
With reference to a question about last year being a tough one for Hamilton. the Mclaren boss admitted, “Nonetheless, you described 2011 as ‘a tough season’ for Lewis and undoubtedly there’s some truth in that. But, such is the level of his ambition that he’s his own sternest critic.”
“Sometimes, therefore, when things don’t go quite right for him, he lets it get to him. We saw that last year sometimes. But it’s a measure of his competitiveness, a side effect of his monumental will to win.
“As such, we wouldn’t want Lewis any other way. He’s a truly brilliant racing driver – one of the fastest we’ve ever seen. And that’s why, throughout last year, we were always keen to reassure him we were backing him 100%.”
Hamilton has competed in 90 grands prix for McLaren (the only F1 team he has driven for), winning 17 races, scoring 42 podiums, 19 pole positions and a world title since his debut for the Woking squad at the 2007 Australian GP. Prior to that McLaren had backed the 27 year old since his karting days.
“People have short memories, don’t they?” mused Whitmarsh.
“Lewis has been an integral part of McLaren for more than half his life. He’s part of the McLaren story and part of the McLaren family, too. He knows that. Equally, he’s been phenomenally successful in the five seasons he’s spent with us as a Formula One driver.”
“He’s been in contention for the drivers’ world championship until the last grand prix of the season in three of those five seasons, and of course he won the drivers’ world championship for us in 2008.”
“Overall, his record of 17 grand prix wins from 90 grand prix starts places him in the very top rank in Formula One’s metaphorical hall of fame.“
Predictably Whitmarsh is revealing very little about the team’s 2012 challenger which is due to be launched on 1 February. But he did reveal, “Everyone at McLaren is already working as hard as is humanly possible to change second to first, and has been all winter. Although that level of commitment necessarily involves personal sacrifice, I don’t think our people see it like that. Formula One people are an astonishingly motivated bunch, and McLaren people are even more driven than most.”
“McLaren has won 20 world championships in the 46 years it’s been competing in Formula One, and that’s a stupendous record by anyone’s reckoning. Believe me, we fully intend to add to that tally,” concluded the McLaren boss.