'Webber deal is Hamilton's loss'
Hamilton short of options after Webber decides to stay at Red Bull
Last Updated: 19/07/12 2:01pm
Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz has described Mark Webber's contract extension with Red Bull as "the biggest disappointment" of Lewis Hamilton's already-faltering season.
After months of speculation about his future, Webber announced two days after taking victory at Silverstone that he would be staying at Red Bull for the 2013 season. With Sebastian Vettel also under contract for next season, Webber's decision to reject overtures from Ferrari effectively blocks the way for Hamilton to join the World Champions and leaves the 2008 World Champion short of options as he considers whether or not to sign an extension of his own with McLaren.
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"Webber signing for Red Bull must have been the biggest disappointment of the season for Lewis Hamilton because he fancied getting into the car that Sebastian Vettel is doing so well in," Ted told Sky Sports News. "Lewis thinks he is the equal of Sebastian Vettel, if not better than Vettel, so he believes he could win championships easily in the Red Bull car. So for him it is very disappointing that Webber took that seat.
"Where can he go now? Lotus maybe, Mercedes if Schumacher goes, but the options are drying up for him. But you can never tell with Lewis Hamilton. He might decide the grass is greener somewhere else. He has been at McLaren all his career and maybe he needs a bit of a break to just reset his mind - and certainly Lotus would give him that."
Hamilton's perceived disappointment at Webber's extension has been compounded by McLaren's severe loss of form, with the MP4-27 arguably no better than the fifth-fastest car at Silverstone two weeks ago. Such a lowly status represents a dramatic fall from grace for a charger that Hamilton guided to pole position for the season-opening Australian GP. According to Kravitz, however, that early-season advantage may have been dangerously deceptive.
"I think what is true is that McLaren have squandered their early season advantage They had a car that was fast, but then that was because all the other teams were having problems," the F1 Show presenter reflected. "Red Bull were still trying to understand the rule changes, Ferrari had a very slow car at the start of the season that only now they have managed to improve and Mercedes weren't really on the pace either. So I think it was more that all the other teams were slow, that made McLaren fast.
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"They haven't developed the car as much as they would like, or as much as Hamilton would like. But this is the time to do it because they need to save their season."
After enduring a wretched weekend at Silverstone, McLaren are pinning their hopes of a return to the front of the grid on a suite of upgrades which will be introduced this weekend. The changes to the MP4-27 are "quite noticeable" according to team boss Martin Whitmarsh but, speaking after patrolling the Hockenheim pitlane on Thursday afternoon, Kravitz confirmed that the upgrades weren't yet apparent.
"They aren't on the car at the minute," Ted reported. "We are expecting to see new sidepods. Something more akin to a jetfighter, with perhaps channels down the side to funnel the air down the bottom of the car to the diffuser.
"Whether the team have them made in time and get them to Germany in time for free practice we will have to see."