Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that McLaren "really needed" Lewis Hamilton's victory at the Circuit of The Americas in wake of the reliability setbacks that had scuppered their title challenge since the end of the European season.
Since winning in dominant fashion at the Italian GP in mid-September, McLaren had been forced to watch on while Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull claimed four wins on the bounce as they in turn suffered a succession of reliability problems with their MP4-27.
Hamilton lost near certain wins in Singapore and Abu Dhabi through car failures, while further technical gremlins on both his and team-mate Jenson Button's cars contributed to the team slipping behind Ferrari to third in the Constructors' Championship.
But after overcoming Red Bull in a straight fight on Sunday to finally claim their sixth win of the campaign, Whitmarsh wasn't shy in expressing his relief to Sky Sports F1.
"I think after the last few weeks that we've had it rates right up there," the McLaren Team Principal replied when asked by Simon Lazenby how highly he regarded the victory.
"Obviously losing two weeks ago was deeply difficult for the team, for me and for Lewis. I think he's been brilliant all this weekend and he really had to work for this one. That was brilliant to catch Sebastian and overtake him, and in fact [Mark] Webber before that as well.
"For the team, we needed it. We really needed that one together."
The McLaren chief acknowledged the victory couldn't completely mask the wider disappointments of the season but stressed that the team would come again in 2013.
"We're disappointed in many ways. We've had a quick car, we've had two great drivers, a few things have gone wrong - you have that occasionally," he reflected.
"We could go back and do the 'what if' again but the fact is it happened and we've now got to go forward and really see if we can get the results we deserve."
Whitmarsh and Hamilton gave each other a warm embrace as they celebrated their victory on the podium with the success potentially the latter's 21st and final victory for McLaren given that he departs for Mercedes after next week's season finale in Brazil.
Hamilton held a farewell dinner with his long-time team on Saturday evening in Austin but Whitmarsh stressed that any emotions over their imminent parting would be put on hold until after the chequered flag had fallen at Interlagos.
"We've got one more race to go, and as we said last night in front of everyone, we're here, we've got two more races, we're not saying goodbye, we want to win these two races," he added.
"We've won one, ticked that box, and we've got to really go for it [in Brazil] and it would be great to really finish on a high there.
"That's six wins this year and we'd like it to seven before the season's over. We've faltered a little bit this year. We've had a quick car, we haven't done as good a job as we'd expect of ourselves.
"I think these things are important for the team and we're now really going to go into Brazil on a high and we can do a good job there."
Appearing alongside his team boss during the interview, Button, who recovered from 12th on the grid to fifth at the flag, acknowledged that there was some sadness inside McLaren that Hamilton was leaving.
"It's been a great partnership with Lewis the last three years," the former World Champion said.
"He's unbelievably quick, he really is. We've had a lot of good battles this year and I'm sure everyone in the team is sad to see him go because obviously he produces great results like today.
"But things change, you move on, and change is exciting. I'm looking forward to working with Checo [Sergio Perez] next year."
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