We don't want Hamilton to change, insist McLaren

Team principal Whitmarsh defends Briton after his aggressive driving at Monza cost him championship lead

"So, how does it feel to have the Crash Kid in your team?"

It was, the German interrogator later admitted, the question he had to ask McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh after Lewis Hamilton crashed out of Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, since in the heat of the post-race moment two weeks earlier in Belgium, Whitmarsh had called hot-headed Sebastian Vettel just that after the young German had taken Jenson Button out of the race.

Whitmarsh did not rise to the bait, and instead made it clear that he does not believe that Hamilton should curb his aggressive style despite the high cost of it on Sunday afternoon. Last year the 2008 world champion crashed at Monza while trying to challenge Jenson Button's Brawn for second place rather than settling for third.

This time he was pushing Felipe Massa for third on the opening lap when he put himself into a vulnerable position at the second chicane, and had his right front wheel clipped by the Ferrari's left rear. The resultant suspension and steering damage put him in the gravel and out of the race at the next corner.

As Mark Webber regained his world championship points lead, Hamilton found himself five adrift. Worse still, rivals Fernando Alonso, Button and Vettel, who finished first, second and fourth respectively, are all now back in the title hunt just when it seemed that Hamilton and Webber were beginning to open up a margin.

When he crashed while leading at Monaco in 1988, Ayrton Senna famously went straight back to his flat, where a team member came upon him still weeping. After his gaffe on Sunday Hamilton locked himself away in his private room in the McLaren Brand Centre in the paddock. Whitmarsh went to find him there when the race was over, to deliver a timely pep talk to his crestfallen star.

"I knew Lewis was in his room and had been there for some time," Whitmarsh said. "I went in to talk to him. He had time to reflect on it, we discussed what happened and we will learn from it. The important thing is that Lewis jumps out of bed in the morning, gets in to training, focuses on Singapore and wants to do the job there. And he will."

Even a fourth place would have given Hamilton 12 points which would not only have increased his points lead but would have reduced Vettel's and Webber's scores in a race in which their Red Bulls, unusually, lacked pace. But Whitmarsh insists there is no pressure upon Hamilton to rein in a flamboyant style that is increasingly reminiscent of the legendary Gilles Villeneuve.

"That is Lewis Hamilton," he said. "He is an aggressive racing driver who, when viewing the slow-motion replay from the comfort of an armchair, probably wishes he had not done it.

"And so do we. But that is being a racing driver. You have to go for it. That is Lewis Hamilton. And I don't want to change Lewis Hamilton. I think he is a great product, a great human being and a great racing driver. He's hard on himself. He is striving to be perfect, striving to be the best racing driver in the world, and when you do something like he did, you regret it. But it is millimetres and centimetres of track position at high speed and high adrenaline that are the difference between hero and zero.

"He and we wish he had done something different in that corner but we will just now focus on Singapore, getting the car quicker and focusing on beating other people."

The contenders – and what they must do to win the title

No 1: Mark Webber, Red Bull, 187 points

Webber is the only four-time winner this season, so he needs to keep plugging away, scoring points whenever he can't add to those victories. But he also needs to get to the bottom of why his Red Bull has bogged down so badly getting off the line at the start of the last two races.

No 2: Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 182

Hamilton needs to keep his nerve and confidence and keep pulling off the stunning performances which saw him victorious in Turkey, Canada and Belgium, and to avoid those odd lapses of judgement such as he showed in Canada in 2008 or on the opening lap at Monza last Sunday.

No 3: Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 166

Alonso must keep pushing Ferrari to get the maximum from their car after spells of inconsistency this season have seen its performance fluctuate dramatically, and to build on Monza's success. And he needs to steer clear of the driving errors that cost him so dear in Monaco and Belgium.



No 4: Jenson Button, McLaren, 165

Button is the only one of the major championship protagonists who has not made an embarrassing driving error this season, and his calmness under pressure certainly impressed Alonso at Monza. But he is the first to admit that he really needs to work on his qualifying performances.



No 5: Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 163

Vettel has been showing the classic signs of stress recently, as by his own admission he fell asleep while following the safety car in Hungary and then showed his streak of impetuosity when he crashed into Button in Belgium. Like Hamilton, he needs to relax and just let it flow.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention