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?
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Life and Style
An Internet security expert has warned that voice recognition technology needs to be more secure
techExperts warn hackers could control our homes or spend our money simply by speaking
Extras
indybest
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
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

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style