Motors Motors

Hamilton hints at staying with McLaren


HOCKENHEIM, Germany, July 20 – Lewis Hamilton dropped a heavy hint on Thursday that he is ready to re-sign with McLaren and stay with the team that has been his second home nearly all his motor racing career.

Hamilton said he would feel “abnormal” to race for any other team in Formula One.

Speaking on the eve of opening practice for this weekend’s German Grand Prix, the 2008 world champion made it clear he was in no rush to confirm his future as he reaches the end of his current contract.

“I have a lot of faith in this team, we’re like a family,” Hamilton told reporters in the Hockenheim paddock. “Anything different would feel very abnormal.

“For me, when you are in a position like this for the first time, you have to do due diligence, and you have to make sure that you look at the whole grid.

“You have to look at all your options and know all your plans, and not rush into things. Some of the worst decisions are generally the ones that are rushed.”

Hamilton grew up with McLaren after joining the team as a teenager and being groomed for the top.

He said he hoped that he could be at McLaren when they next found success.

“It’s been a tough 10-15 years for this team,” he added. “So I’m looking and waiting for that period to come where they have their highest point.

“They had it with Mika (Hakkinen) in the late 1990s and I hope that at some stage it’s our turn.

“I definitely feel that I can do it, and I’m constantly boosted by the team when I go back and see how hard they are pushing. This team never gives up, I never do, and hopefully at some stage we will be rewarded for that.

Hamilton was speaking after McLaren team chief Martin Whitmarsh suggested his team would have no difficulty in retaining the Briton’s services for the long-term future.

Hamilton has been frustrated with the team’s strategic and performance failings this season, the final one in his current contract with the team.

That has sparked the rumour mill with his name being linked with rival teams including Red Bull, Mercecdes and Ferrari, but has also shown commendable faith in McLaren’s potential to turn around their fortunes in a disappointing year.

Whitmarsh said on Thursday that he was sure both McLaren and Hamilton felt equally relaxed about their situation despite the media speculation suggesting Hamilton will move.

He added that he was confident that the 27-year-old Briton will stay and sign an extended contract.

“I’m expecting that we will reach agreement on a long-term deal,” said Whitmarsh.

“Obviously, I have known Lewis for a long time and I feel that we understand each other and our relative positions very well.

“We have been concentrating on the season, on our performances, more than anything. I think there has been more speculation, more concern and more interest in this situation with the media than perhaps with the team and within Lewis’s mind.

“We appear nowadays to be often asked questions about it, but I don’t think it occupies as much time in our minds as it does in column inches.”

Whitmarsh also dismissed the idea that McLaren’s current slump in form would make any difference in their negotiations which Hamilton has said he hopes to complete during the August summer break.

Whitmarsh added: “I think we are going into the next two races trying to win as we go to every race. Lewis is more intelligent than to worry about recent form in these circumstances and so too are most of the media, or I certainly hope they are!”

Whitmarsh added that he is hopeful that “noticeable” updates the team will introduce to the MP4-27 car at this weekend’s German Grand Prix will help turn around their form after two disappointing races.