Press unconvinced Hamilton will stay
Hamilton's downbeat reaction to Monza victory closely scrutinised by sceptical British press on Monday
Last Updated: 10/09/12 1:27pm
Lewis Hamilton: Was controlled on the podium, say the British press
Lewis Hamilton's sublime victory in the Italian Grand Prix has failed to convince the British press that his future remains at McLaren in wake of the driver's muted celebrations at Monza.
Both the 27-year-old and McLaren's management had been dogged by persistent questions throughout the weekend about Hamilton's future following the publication of an explosive report on the eve of the meeting that claimed the driver was poised to sign for Mercedes for 2013.
But although Hamilton and his management firm have insisted they remain in "advanced talks" with McLaren, and the driver dropped a hint about his future intentions to Sky Sports News on Sunday evening, his subdued demeanour from the moment he stepped out of his race-winning MP4-27 in parc ferme to the traditional post-victory team photo in the paddock on Sunday evening didn't escape the attention of British newspaper journalists.
The Times suggested that Hamilton's downbeat mood had left everyone at McLaren guessing just what exactly his future entailed: "Hamilton tantalised right to the end. He greeted his cruise to victory in the Italian Grand Prix at one of the world's classic racetracks with all the enthusiasm of a man who has just lost a £10 note and left behind him in Monza a McLaren team puzzled as to where they stand in the bewildering life of Formula One's superstar."
And ruminating on the uncertainty Hamilton was creating, the newspaper added: "Perhaps they sensed the body language that was all too apparent in what should have been the victory celebrations. They whooped and cheered as they posed for the traditional team photograph, while Jenson Button, who did not even finish the race, hugged and kissed everyone in sight. Hamilton posed stony-faced. His post-race press conference would have been conducted with more verve by an undertaker."
The Guardian, meanwhile, described Hamilton as having "the demeanour of a man ascending the scaffold" on the podium with his answers to questions in the later press conference likened to the "dejected tones of someone helping the police with their inquiries".
The Daily Telegraph also pointed out the apparent uneasiness present between Hamilton and McLaren chiefs Martin Whitmarsh and Ron Dennis in the post-race celebrations.
"Hamilton mumbled his way through a few interviews, never showing much enthusiasm for the questions, even when they related to his win, before enjoying an awkward embrace with his team principal Martin Whitmarsh in front of the McLaren motorhome as the team's entire staff mustered in their rocket red victory T-shirts.
"Just a few feet away stood McLaren's executive chairman Ron Dennis, who had himself watched the podium ceremony stony-faced."
The Daily Mail, though, had a slightly different take on Hamilton's controlled behaviour on the podium - suggesting that this may have been the moment when he suddenly realised the difference between life at McLaren and that at Mercedes.
"Inevitably the paddock grapevine came up with a theory. Maybe the magnitude of leaving McLaren for Mercedes had suddenly dawned on the 2008 world champion," the paper wrote.
"It remains to be seen whether Hamilton has agreed to the switch, but the fact Mercedes's current drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg could manage only sixth and seventh may be of some concern if he has."
And referring to the Monza fans' heckling Hamilton on the podium despite his attempts to speak Italian to them, The Times pertinently concluded: "It remains to be seen whether Hamilton has some words to charm his worried team as they wait to discover what he will decide. Will it be "ciao" or "arrivederci"?"