Whitmarsh: "Lewis showed me greatness I had not seen before"
In all the drama that took place on Sunday, with Pastor Maldonado's victory and the post-race fire in the Williams garage, I think the brilliance of Lewis Hamilton's drive was slightly overlooked. After the disappointment of having his pole lap taken from him and then being relegated to the back of the grid for being under-fuelled, this (above) was the view which greeted him when he lined up alongside HRT before the race.
Believe me, it is a long way from the front and there was a lot going on in between. I should know because I trekked all the way back there to watch him arrive.
But Hamilton clearly had his head screwed on correctly and got off to a good start which saw him make up five places on the first lap. He then showed he could look after his tyres - a real source of pride for Hamilton this season given team mate Jenson Button is generally deemed to be better at managing them - making a two-stop strategy work (everyone else did three) and finishing eighth to score valuable championship points.
Afterwards he generally said all the right things, declining to hit out at McLaren for costing him a possible race victory. All very mature (Didier Coton's role here could be interesting - Coton, remember, was hired by XIX to look after Lewis after his travails last year).
Hamilton's team principal Martin Whitmarsh was certainly impressed. Whitmarsh told us he had been concerned as to how Hamilton might react to Saturday's exclusion, and revealed he had taken him aside for a chat.
“I was concerned because it is a pretty tough thing to happen to a driver. But I have to say he showed some greatness I had not seen before. By the end of our chat he was consoling me. To say I was disappointed is a modest expression of what I felt. He was saying ’we win and lose as a team’. He was a great, great driver this weekend. My affection and admiration for Lewis have been enhanced by events this weekend. The relationship between Lewis and the team is stronger and better and hopefully we will work together for a long time.”
That last comment was a reference to speculation that Hamilton may seek a move to pastures new once his contract expires at the end of this season. I fancy he will stay at McLaren but they need to stop making basic errors. Hamilton should be leading this championship by a distance based on his driving this year, but instead finds himself third.
Drivers do not generally like to leave teams which are building fast cars, though, and McLaren's car is good. Mercedes may have a vacancy if Michael Schumacher moves on but have not yet proved they can win consistently. Ferrari have Fernando Alonso. And Red Bull have Sebastian Vettel. I would be mightily surprised if he joined either of those two. Then again, stranger things have happened.