Sep 24 2012
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says Lewis Hamilton has dealt with his Singapore Grand Prix disappointment "as a world champion" and backed his driver to come back stronger in the final six races of the season.
Hamilton looked on course for his second win on the bounce as he led from pole under the lights of the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Sunday, only to see a gearbox failure end his hopes and leave him 52 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso.
Whitmarsh praised Hamilton's attitude as well as his recent impressive form, saying: "What happened yesterday was painful, but he is dealing with it as a world champion. He is showing great character."
"He has been very strong about it, and that makes him a very strong asset in this team," added Whitmarsh. "We've a stronger, more resolute Lewis than we've seen for a while, and he will bounce back and be strong again in Japan.
"We're a good team together. We don't always get it right, but he's been doing a great job for the team at the moment."
Sunday's failure may stoke up the ongoing speculation linking Hamilton with a move to Mercedes at the end of the season, although Press Association Sport understands from a source inside McLaren that talks over a new contract are "85-90%" resolved.
Much of the focus will remain on Hamilton's future until his contract situation is resolved, although Whitmarsh refused to speculate whether a deal could be done before the next race in Japan in a fortnight.
"I'm not going to make any predictions," he said. "Right now we need to regroup, we've six races to go and we have to win those six races. The situation is a lot tougher now, but we're not giving up, and certainly Lewis is not giving up because it's still doable.
"A lot of things can still happen in this championship and, as I've said all along, it's going to be determined in Brazil (the final race) I believe.
"There are six races, Lewis can score 150 points, so they (Ferrari and Alonso) have to score 100. It is still quite a lot of points, so there's a long way to go yet."