Martin Whitmarsh put on a brave face in Singapore as the media grilled him over Lewis Hamilton’s uncertain future.
According to some paddock sages, the 2008 world champion is now on the verge of jumping ship to Mercedes for 2013. But McLaren boss Whitmarsh denied that the length and intensity of the period of speculation has been a distraction. "No, I don’t think it has been," he insisted. "I know that there are stories and speculation that swirl around and I guess that’s formula one and I think we’re content to get on with the job quietly."
But what is obvious is that insiders and journalists are no longer swallowing Whitmarsh’s recent claim that the Hamilton-to-Mercedes reports are just "fantasy". In fact, Whitmarsh on Friday denied he ever said that word. "I don’t remember that, but I think if you told me that he had signed the deal (then) that was fantasy," he said, adding that he is sure Hamilton has received offers from other teams because "he’s a very good racing driver".
But Whitmarsh continues to deny that McLaren is lining up the candidates to replace Hamilton. He at least acknowledged the role money is playing in the saga, confirming Hamilton wants "more", while McLaren wants to pay the 27-year-old "less". "That’s how business normally works," Whitmarsh quipped.
On a whole, the press corps in Singapore didn’t buy Whitmarsh’s story, one journalist telling the McLaren principal that his answers smacked of "putting on a brave face". "It’s not a question of that," Whitmarsh insisted, "it’s a question of focusing on doing our job, and we’re concentrating on this year’s championship."
Info: GMM, Image: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes