Woking, Monday: A frustrated and disappointed Lewis Hamilton has reportedly asked his McLaren team if they will consider “saving the car” for the rest of the season by not taking part in any races.
The world champion was poised for a good race at the Nurburgring on Sunday, until a first-lap puncture ruined his afternoon and consigned him to running very slowly at the back of the field, something he is now used to.
“Should we carry on, or should we save the engine and gearbox?” Hamilton asked over the radio to his team during the race. “Actually,” he continued, “why don’t we save the whole car and not turn up to any more races?”
Rumours that the British driver is suffering a lack of motivation due to an uncompetitive season have been vigorously denied by McLaren spin doctor PR guru Matt Bishop. The formerly “impartial” (no, seriously) journalist insisted that “All of Lewis’ motivational circuits are working just fine, he will be back at Budapest will the same level of, um, enthusiasm and robotic self-assurance to which we are used.”
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh also denied any plans to shelve the team’s 2009 operation. “Lewis’ request, while obviously taken seriously, isn’t going to happen. We have decided, as in 2007, not to give up on the season so early but to allow an embarrassing turn of events to utterly humiliate us later in the season.”
F1 history is replete with examples of teams taking time off to better prepare their cars, although few ever actually returned to the F1 grid and none had the same level of historic achievement and tradition as McLaren. “This isn’t Forti or Life Engineering we’re talking about,” Whitmarsh pointed out, “This is McLaren, and we don’t ever give up on a poor car. Except in 2003, of course.”
Hamilton later retracted his earlier comments, thanking the team for allowing him to change his mind.