Martin Whitmarsh rallies behind troubled Lewis Hamilton

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The Independent Online

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has called on Lewis Hamilton to keep his head as he battles through the most tortuous time of his career.

Hamilton endured another wretched grand prix at the weekend as an error in judgment in qualifying for the race in Japan wrecked his hopes of a shot at pole position.

Then on Sunday a slow puncture sustained on lap three compromised his hopes of a potential podium and his chances diminished further when he collided with Felipe Massa for the fourth time this season.

The 26-year-old eventually trundled home fifth, his woes compounded as team-mate Jenson Button took the chequered flag on a day in which Sebastian Vettel was crowned a two-time champion.

With Hamilton clearly struggling, Whitmarsh has assured him he is not lacking support from within the team.

"Every international athlete has highs and lows, and this has been a difficult time. That's the way of life sometimes," said Whitmarsh.

"When things aren't going well they seem to multiply on you, and that affects your mental condition, your state of mind, and it makes it more difficult.

"At the moment he has to keep calm, be disciplined, keep his head because he is still a naturally very gifted, incredible racing driver, and it will come good, I'm quite sure of that."

Whitmarsh was then reminded of the fact he has been defending Hamilton since the third race of the year in Malaysia where his star name incurred the first of his five drive-through penalties this year.

In response, he said: "Undoubtedly this has been an incredibly difficult season for him, and he is disappointed in that.

"But he could win this weekend (in Korea). We all know it, and we all sense it, and suddenly it's the bounce back.

"Of course, we would all desperately like it to happen in a week, but we will see, otherwise we'll look at it in three weeks' time (in India).

"His form will return. There is no reason why, on Sunday, we can't be celebrating an epic win from Lewis - I hope we are."

Hamilton's lack of anyone close to him has often been called into question as he cuts a solitary figure these days, unlike in his early years when father Anthony and brother Nicolas were always in evidence.

Across the way, Button has dad John, girlfriend Jessica Michibata, trainer Mikey Collier and occasionally manager Richard Goddard by his side.

Whitmarsh insists Hamilton has plenty of people from McLaren whom he can call on at any time, but he also maintains he has to dig deep within his own reserves of strength and resourcefulness.

"You either have to be incredibly strong, resilient and bloody minded and not need anyone, or if you wear your heart on your sleeve you need help and support," added Whitmarsh.

"Now I believe he has that in this team, but he has to find some of things from himself as well.

"Everyone in this situation needs someone, and there is no-one in this team that doesn't believe in Lewis Hamilton."