With Todd openly wondering if McLaren might be the fourth fastest team in Formula 1 at this point, questions appear to be swirling faster and faster around Lewis Hamilton and his future with the team.
Not to worry, though, says team boss Martin Whitmarsh. But… well, with this being F1…
The BBC has a piece coming out of the Silverstone weekend that nicely sums up where everything is. In it, Whitmarsh downplays the concerns, saying he doesn’t think the team’s current run of slowness and other various struggles would impact Hamilton’s long-term thinking.
“No, I think he’s smarter than that,” Whitmarsh said. “He’s got to want to stay in this team, which I believe he does.”
“Believe.” There’s the rub, right? The BBC also reports that Lewis was pretty ticked off all weekend at the team’s pace and not too pleased by his qualifying. Remember all that rain? Remember how spectacular Lewis is (supposed to be?) in the rain?
Whitmarsh says thinks will improve, and that Lewis knows how the sport ebbs and flows.
“He [Hamilton] knows that, I know that and we’re disciplined and battle-hardened enough these days to know that,” he said.
“You’ve got to take stock, learn from these weekends. Sometimes you can learn more from these than the successful ones.”
I think these few lines from the BBC’s story sum things up:
McLaren’s performance at the British Grand Prix was surprisingly poor.
Hamilton was on pole position by more than half a second at May’s Spanish Grand Prix, held on a track with very similar characteristics to Silverstone.
As a result, the team expected to battle for victory, but they struggled in qualifying and Hamilton was never in the fight for the win.
Of course, if you even decide that you think Lewis might test the unknown waters of another team, you have to ask the question: Which one? He’d only go to a legitimate competitor, right? Which teams does that leave? Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes? (Anyone dare to think Lotus?)
The trouble with the trio of likely teams is the lack of seats or at least lack of comfortable seats. You think there might be a spot at Red Bull if Mark Webber gets all gag-gag over the idea of being at Ferrari? That seems less likely to happen the way things have gone recently, and the team has started to signal that it wants him aboard.
Well, what about that seat at Ferrari left empty by Felipe Massa? I know Lewis and Fernando Alonso have shown signs of a better relationship, but it sure seems a stretch still. I just can’t imagine Ferrari fans welcoming Lewis into the fold. There’s a major cognitive dissonance there — not to mention that Alonso has made it clear he has some say in who teams with him. And a Massa who can reliably score fourth through seventh sounds like what the doctor ordered. (The BBC flat out says Alonso has vetoed the idea of Lewis joining the team.)
So then there’s Mercedes. And that all hinges on another wonderfully large, Silly Season question: Does Michael Schumacher stay or does he go? And Mercedes says those talks haven’t started yet.