McLaren: Lewis Hamilton welcome to visit, but not our garage

New Mercedes driver Hamilton reveals his hurt at being turned away by his old team

The Bahrain International Circuit

McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh stressed that Lewis Hamilton will always be welcome to visit his old team, after the driver complained that he had been turned away from their garage during winter testing in Jerez.

Hamilton's 14-year association with the Woking-based team ended last year when he decided to switch to Mercedes, and a fourth and two third places in the opening three races leave him comfortably ahead of old team-mate Jenson Button and replacement Sergio Perez, who are struggling with McLaren's new car. "I went to see them in Australia but I also tried to see them in Jerez, at the test, and their sporting director Sam Michael threw me out of the garage," Hamilton told the official Formula One website. "That wasn't very positive and I don't feel very good about that."

Whitmarsh said: "Firstly, Lewis is always perfectly welcome at McLaren and he knows that. He came to see us in Australia and he and I talked, so it's a little bit of a storm in a teacup.

"I would never consider going into Ferrari's garage even though I have a very good relationship with team boss Stefano Domenicali. I suspect if I did that I would politely be asked to leave. It's the same for any competitor. I think Lewis was asked to leave in a good-natured manner in Jerez, and may have been slightly naïve. But he is always welcome in our hospitality and other appropriate areas."

And, referring to the pit stop in the recent Malaysian GP when Hamilton accidentally headed first to McLaren before driving through to Mercedes, Whitmarsh added tongue in cheek: "We waved him through there but could have delayed him by servicing him and taking him on a wheelie board into the garage…"

Ferrari led the first practice session here yesterday, courtesy of Felipe Massa and Chinese Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso, before Australian GP winner Kimi Raikkonen moved ahead for Lotus in the afternoon.

Pirelli's two hardest-compound tyres are likely to prove more durable than the rubber they supplied in China, where many drivers complained that they were unable to race full-out throughout the event. But tyre performance will still affect who qualifies at the front of the grid, and who dominates the race.

Hamilton, 10th in the afternoon, said: "We worked as hard as we could today but couldn't quite get the balance of the car where it needs to be. I had some issues in the first session which we were able to improve for this afternoon so that's a positive, but we need to identify where we are losing time and find more performance."

He added: "I don't think we are as far off as it looks. I think other people were on different fuel loads.

"It looks like we're 0.6 sec off the pace. I think it's maybe half that; maybe a bit less.

"But it will be a tough battle for sure this weekend."

Button, 11th for McLaren, said: "It's very difficult to know exactly what to do with set-up. This is a big traction circuit, with lots of low-speed exits and a few high-speed corners too, and that puts a lot of load into the rear tyres.

"The tyres are behaving a bit strangely here – driving conservatively doesn't seem to help their wear-life, so there's only so much you can do without damaging your outright pace."

Red Bull's defending champion, Sebastian Vettel, was fourth and then third in the two practice sessions, and echoed Hamilton's view that it will be tight this weekend.

"It will be very close in qualifying. It matters a lot to work with the tyres around the track," he said. "I wasn't very happy with the short runs I did today. I seemed to struggle to put the lap together to be honest.

"The tyres seemed to be the dominating factor. After 10, 12, 14, 15 laps the tyres started to fall apart and people really started to struggle with the rear tyres.

"The car is quick. We have to make sure we use that. The speed of the car can only be shown if you translate it the proper way through the tyres."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future