x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Whitmarsh expects Hamilton to stay with McLaren

Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren-Mercedes team principal, is confident his driver will not move to a different team next year.

Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren-Mercedes team principal, is confident his driver, Lewis Hamilton will not leave the team next season following recent speculation linking him with Red Bull Racing.

Hamilton's Formula One future became the subject of intense debate during last month's Canadian Grand Prix when reports emerged of a meeting he held with the Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

The British driver has already played down the speculation, and Whitmarsh sees no reason why Hamilton would quit McLaren at the end of the year.

"Lewis loves this team and he knows the car is capable of winning races," he told the Independent.

"He's sat with me in the last 10 days and explained his passion, enthusiasm and desire to remain part of this team.

"I've known him since he was 11. I don't think he would look me in the eye and say that if he didn't mean it."

Whitmarsh also leapt to the defence of the 26-year-old after criticism — most notably from Niki Lauda — over his driving style following a series of race incidents.

"A racing driver has to attack," Whitmarsh said. "If you are going to overtake another Formula One car, you are going to take a risk.

"I know Niki and like him, and I accept that there are people around who want to say things to create controversy. Niki's in that category.

"Does Lewis regret his accidents? Of course he does and so do I. Would you want him to change his style? With due respect to the great and the good, we're living in the here and now."