Whitmarsh credits rumours for Lewis form
McLaren chief reckons 2013 speculation has actually served to focus driver's mind on the here and now in wake of latest pole
Last Updated: September 22, 2012 5:23pm
Lewis Hamilton: Surged to another pole in Singapore
Martin Whitmarsh believes the frenzied speculation over Lewis Hamilton's future has actually helped the McLaren driver solely focus his mind on trying to win the World Championship after the Briton delivered his latest supreme performance in qualifying in Singapore.
Since speculation first broke ahead of the Italian GP that he was considering a move to Mercedes, Hamilton has yet to be beaten on track in any serious session, claiming the pole and win double at Monza and then streaking to another pole on Saturday night under the lights at Marina Bay.
After batting away the speculation in impeccable fashion throughout the Italy weekend, Hamilton informed reporters on Thursday in Singapore that he wouldn't be fielding any further questions over contract talks as there was nothing new to add and since Friday's opening practice session action got underway has continued his impressive form on the track.
Asked by Sky Sports F1's Simon Lazenby whether all the talk of 2013 had actually inadvertently helped the driver keep his mind focused on the racing, McLaren Team Principal Whitmarsh replied: "I think it has actually. In a way I think he's created barriers around himself.
"The result two weeks ago in Monza was good for his confidence and I think he realises that this championship is winnable and for it to be won you've really got to focus now on every result and get every point available to you.
"So I think he's in a really good place and absolutely focused. Quite possibly all the chatter around has caused him to put the barriers up - not focus, not contemplate, not think about it and just drive the racing car, which is good."
The stage for the Q3 fight for pole had been set for an intense duel between Hamilton and reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel after the pair had lapped the best part of a whole second faster than their nearest rivals in the second knockout stage.
But with Vettel surprisingly experiencing a difficult final phase, and only qualifying third, Hamilton stormed to pole by over 0.4s from Williams' Pastor Maldonado. Whitmarsh admitted that his driver was in scintillating form and suggested his convincing victory over Vettel would have given him an additional mental boost.
"I think Lewis has been strong here all weekend. He did a great long run yesterday and I think we've just done our work and that showed," he said.
"He's just driven perfectly, a lot of confidence and this is a circuit where you've got to be millimetre perfect. I think he did a great, great job.
"I think Sebastian really fancied his chances in that session and inevitably he's a strong qualifier but I think psychologically that would have been one that's pretty sweet for him."
Maldonado's surge to the other front row slot came as something of a surprise to the paddock and perhaps a nasty one for both Hamilton and McLaren given that Lewis and Pastor have had several run-ins over the past two seasons - most recently at Valencia when the Williams driver took Hamilton out on the final lap of the race.
Whitmarsh expressed mild trepidation about the prospect of the two hard-charging drivers heading into the first corner together, but hopes Hamilton's generally superior speed means they don't have to be unduly worried about the Venezuelan.
"My thoughts were I think if Maldonado is on the inside of the first corner it will be a bit sweaty!" he joked.
"But let's hope we're well clear. He has flashes of great speed and he's done it again here but I think hopefully we can stay out of trouble and drive a sensible race.
"It's a long race and we shouldn't underestimate him - he showed in Barcelona when we should have been there [on pole] by half a second again that he can actually win a race.
"It's a long old slog this one and there's no room for error. So he will have to do all of his laps without errors and that's going to be tough I think."