Martin Whitmarsh says Lewis Hamilton might be regretting his move to Mercedes
Team boss insists McLaren driver would be better off staying put
Last Updated: 13/11/12 8:38am
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh believes Lewis Hamilton is already having regrets over his move to Mercedes next season.
Whitmarsh concedes he still does "not fully understand" why Hamilton opted to quit McLaren after 14 years and join a team that has won just one race since returning to the sport three years ago.
He appreciates Hamilton's desire to "flee the nest" after 14 years but feels it might have been a knee-jerk reaction to a bad result in Singapore, a race he would probably have won but for a gearbox failure.
"It is always bad to make a decision in the aftermath of a bad race," Whitmarsh told the official Formula 1 website. "He was pretty sure he was going to win that race and it (the retirement) was a disappointment.
"I respect his decision, but I believe he would be better off with us; we are the stronger team and we intend to beat him next year.
"You have to justify your decision. He is not going to say 'Hey, they offered me more money'. He is also not going to say he's made an awful mistake. I hope he thinks today he's made an awful mistake and I hope he thinks that next year.
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"He's made that decision and he has to live with that decision.
"Right now we still want to win races. We are motivated by that and our conversation circles around that. Maybe he is completely dispassionate about it, but my guess is we both will have very emotional moments in Brazil.
"I have known him since he was 11 and worked with him since his teens and I know we will both be very emotional after Brazil. We have had one or two emotional moments since the decision was taken and I believe, but you must ask him, that we have a very good relationship."
Hamilton's deal with Mercedes, which lasts for three years and is said to be worth £45million, was announced the week after the Singapore Grand Prix.
That retirement dealt a crucial blow to Hamilton's title hopes and was one of a number of reliability problems McLaren have recently suffered.
Hamilton was similarly leading in Abu Dhabi last weekend before retiring with a fuel pressure problem, while the team also bungled a number of pit stops earlier in the season.
In Spain, meanwhile, Hamilton had qualified on pole position but was then sent to the back of the grid after the team accidentally underfuelled his car.
McLaren are still seen as much the better prospect next season, although Mercedes will hope to make gains in 2014 on the back of new engine rules.
Asked whether Hamilton has regretted his decision, Whitmarsh replied: "I think he has on occasions, yes. 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. You just look forward and make the best out of the new situation."