Martin Whitmarsh has defended his teams inability to retain Lewis Hamilton at McLaren. Telling Sky Sports F1:
“If the question is ‘do I blame 19?’, then the answer is that I don’t. Lewis is a great driver but has to make decisions about his life. We had lots of talks, went into lots of details and drew up lots of complex contracts. We negotiated lots of details and lots of freedom – it was a very good commercial offer that we made,” Whitmarsh told Sky Sports.
“We went a long way to make a good offer to Lewis but ultimately it takes two to get to a signature – and ultimately we clearly didn’t agree terms.”
At some level, there is only so much you can and are willing to do. All things being equal, I’m not sure Lewis was ever going to stay at McLaren. He seemed restless and ready for a new challenge if my body language meter is correct. Blaming McLaren for not giving away the farm to keep a driver is really not fair given they effectively matched monetary compensation (if you believe rumors) and what the details were, no one may ever know.
At the end of the day, the team name is McLaren International, not Hamilton International. They’ve had great drivers before and they will again. The team is the mainstay and I believe Martin when he says they tried all they could to keep Hamilton but the nuance is “all they could” meaning all they were willing to give. A team has to have a future goal and sometimes that just doesn’t include a driver who has his own future goals. Ayrton Senna had no confusion on leaving McLaren and you know Ron Dennis wasn’t elated about that loss but the team moved on and eventually got Mikka Hakkinen and that wasn’t all bad was it? You never know, Perez could really be a revelation…we’ll just have to wait and see.
I say kudos to McLaren. You tried and the stakes were more than what the team felt comfortable giving. Good on you and I think you’ll be a better team for it…and that’s coming from a Ferrari fan.