Lewis Hamilton reiterates commitment to McLaren

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton today took the bold step of seeking out team principal Martin Whitmarsh to underline his commitment to McLaren.

With the start of the new Formula One season looming large with Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, recent speculation has focused on Hamilton's future with the team.

The suggestion has been that a third successive year without the Formula One world title, following his initial success in 2008, could prompt Hamilton to seek pastures new.

That would be despite the fact he has another season remaining on his £10million-per-year contract with McLaren.

Hamilton, though, insists he has no intention of going anywhere, nor is he attempting to engineer a move away from McLaren, a team that has overseen his career since he was 13.

"I've spoken to Martin today because I wanted to reassure him that I am here at McLaren, that I am committed to the team, committed to winning," Hamilton told Press Association Sport.

"This is where my heart and mind are. I'm not thinking about going elsewhere, I don't have my people (his new management team) going elsewhere and doing any other talking.

"I try and put myself in other people's positions, to understand how they would feel. I think that's important.

"I can imagine how I would feel if I heard stories that they were looking for another driver to replace me, it would be upsetting and distracting, and I kind of assume that may have been the case.

"So I wanted to make sure I put that right, and why I spoke with Martin."

Hamilton, though, has not ruled out the possibility of one day in the distant future changing teams, but not before he has played his part in helping McLaren rediscover the winning championship habit.

"Of course, I'm going to be in Formula One for some time, and you never know which way the wind will take you," added Hamilton.

"As I said, for now, I'm committed to trying to make this team the most successful it can be, and I feel we can do that."

Whitmarsh was naturally grateful to Hamilton for being upfront and honest, although felt the 26-year-old had no need to do so.

Speaking to Press Association Sport, Whitmarsh said: "Lewis did come to see me today, not that it was necessary.

"It wasn't something I was going to raise with him, but it was nonetheless still nice for him to want to clarify his passion and restate his commitment to being in the team."

Dismissing the stories, Whitmarsh is convinced McLaren will again present Hamilton with the kind of opportunities that will ensure his head will not be turned.

"You glance through the headlines and you see lots of things, but you don't spend too much time dwelling on them," added Whitmarsh.

"He knows we will have highs and lows in any season, but he also knows this team is committed to winning.

"We're a great team, we enjoy working together. There are always plenty of challenges in this sport, and that's what we are here for.

"Obviously he has grown up with this team, we have had some great times together, and I'm sure we're going to have some great times together in the future as well.

"Lewis has grown and developed in self-assurance and his manner in the years I've known him, and has a genuine affection for the team and the people in it.

"It's great he is comfortable, enjoys the environment and working with the people in this organisation."