Hamilton hints at McLaren stay
Monza victor hails "incredible" McLaren as Martin Brundle suggests Lewis is being "tested" during ongoing contract negotiations
Last Updated: 10/09/12 1:25pm
Lewis Hamilton has dropped a powerful hint that he will extend his contract with McLaren by hailing the team as "incredible" in the wake of his victory at Monza and describing himself as "looking forward to the future".
As F1 and its dog is by now surely aware, Hamilton's future remains clouded in uncertainty in the wake of claims that a transfer to Mercedes was 'imminent'. Though that report has been dismissed by Sky Sports F1 pundit Martin Brundle as 'misinformation', it is understood that Hamilton's management team have held talks with Mercedes and possibly Lotus - in addition to continuing negotiations with McLaren - as the 27-year-old weighs up his options.
Though his relationship with the McLaren team which has nurtured him throughout his motor-racing career has appeared strained of late, faultless victories of the sort Hamilton and McLaren combined to deliver at Monza to critical effect are bound to accelerate the process of reconciliation - and so it seemed as Hamilton warmly embraced Martin Whitmarsh during the team's traditional post-victory photo call before enthusiastically endorsing McLaren's title-winning credentials.
"This is an incredible team, I've got a great relationship with them so I'm really looking forward to the future," Hamilton told Sky Sports News. "The guys have delivered a great package. It's one race at a time and I'm trying to take this team to the top. I'm trying to help them, as they're trying to help me, win both championships."
In addition to the victory being "one of the greatest experiences of my Formula 1 career", Hamilton's win has also had the invaluable effect of catapulting the 2008 World Champion into the midst of an ever-fluctuating title battle. The McLaren driver is now second in the standings, 37 points behind leader Fernando Alonso.
"He can win this World Championship, of that there is no doubt," proclaimed Brundle during Sky F1's Monza coverage. "It seems to me that Lewis would be crazy to leave this team and they should get a deal done and start focusing on this year's World Championship."
Nonetheless, despite the expectation that Hamilton will ultimately decide to stay at McLaren, a resolution to what has proved to be the saga of the summer is not expected before F1 reconvenes at Singapore in two weeks' time. So why the delay? According to Brundle, it's because Hamilton has a fundamental question to answer:
"McLaren are testing him by asking: 'where are your priorities? Is it to stay with us and make this a championship-winning team or have you got other ideas that appeal to you more - be it money or freedom to cut some other deals or be in America more?'. They are testing him out."
Jenson Button, on the other hand, is being counted out of the title equation just a week after his splendid victory at Spa. The Englishman had appeared poised to secure a comfortable second place behind Hamilton only for his McLaren to expire without warning with twenty laps of the race remaining.
"The chance to win the race was gone, but we were still in a good position, the car felt great and I was doing the right thing of looking after the tyres - you never know what could happen at the end of the race," reflected a deflated Button. "But then we had a problem and the engine just cut out because there was no fuel going to the engine."
Hamilton's response to his team-mate's misfortune was, though, perhaps even more noteworthy.
"A shame for the team that we didn't get the one-two here in Monza," he told Natalie Pinkham, "but there's always next year."
Next year? Hint taken.