Formula 1 News

Hamilton, Button prove McLaren in good spirits

The team has shown strong consecutive performances in qualifying and in race trim. Another victory is possible, and that for sure will spice up Lewis' contract discussions.
Saturday, September 8, 2012

MONZA, Italy, Sept 8, 2012 (AFP) - Besieged by rumour and innuendo, Lewis Hamilton did his talking on the track again on Saturday when he grabbed pole position for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix with a scorching display of talent and commitment.

After another week of controversy and speculation about his future, he made clear he is still dedicated to doing his best for McLaren as he led team-mate and fellow-Briton Jenson Button to their third one-two front row lockout of the season.

All talk of a switch to Mercedes as a successor to Germany's seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, 43, appeared to be not only premature, but unnecessary on the evidence of Hamilton's display.

"I don't want to talk about winning the race here for the first time or my future," said Hamilton. "Let's talk about the things that have happened first and the others when something else happens."

His matter-of-fact approach to his post-session media briefings was a succinct example of his likely approach to the future: he wants to win and be successful.

Like Hamilton, McLaren were also keen to avoid more loose talk about their negotiations following former team owner Eddie Jordan's claims that a deal with Mercedes has been agreed for 2013.

McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh said: "I haven't spoken to him about a deal this week and I don't want to speak with him about it here, in Monza, as I want him to be on form.

"I want us to finish one-two on Sunday - if I can - so I don't think that we need to talk about the future - about contracts - right now.

"It is too important for Lewis, too, because he needs a very strong result here for his own championship challenge and we want a strong result for both our championships. That is the priority. First things first..."

It made no difference to anyone involved that former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis was in the paddock along with a host of other F1 celebrities on Saturday.

Whitmarsh added that he was well aware of the desire of Hamilton's agents XIX Entertainment to build his brand name, but said that did not necessarily have to be in conflict with McLaren's ambitions.

He said: "Lewis and his team are very interested in the Hamilton brand and providing anything that happens doesn't distract him from being a race driver, we are 100 percent relaxed about it.

"We are not at odds over that. I think at the moment we all should focus on winning a race and then next week we will sit down and get some discussions going."

When asked about the chances of Hamilton electing to walk away from McLaren talks and sign with Mercedes, Whitmarsh said: "Personally, I would doubt it."

Hamilton and Button's performances in qualifying endorsed their jointly-held view that the annual Monza frenzy over drivers' deals was not in any way affecting them.

"Morale in the team is good, we just want to race," said Button. "I think I've shown that whatever is going on off the circuit, you have to focus on the job in hand. And it is great to have a hugely competitive team-mate - it really helps you know how you are doing and where you are."

Hamilton said he was not thinking about his future beyond this weekend. He said: "Other people deal with that. Occasionally, it pops into your mind but then you have to keep your eye on the ball."

Hamilton's current contract ends this year. "We have a great car and the guys have done a great job back at the factory
to tune the aerodynamic set-up," said Hamilton.

"Obviously it's still very close between us and Ferrari and Lotus and Mercedes. We are in a good position but we need to find more time. I have never won here and I don't want to talk about it. I want to do it first."

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