McLaren still loves Hamilton
NO HARD FEELINGS: McLaren insist the relationship between the team and Lewis Hamilton is still good, even after Hamilton's decision to move to Mercedes.
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
LONDON - McLaren has left Lewis Hamilton in no doubt that he will feel the love when he goes back to the Formula 1 team's factory this week for the first time since his move to Mercedes was announced in September, 2012.
The 2008 World champion, going to Woking, England, for some simulator work before the 2012 Indian F1 GP, declared his title hopes over for the season after finishing 10th in the 2012 Korean Grand Prix.
His determination to wrestle his damaged car to the finish prompted team boss Martin Whitmarsh to dig deep into his bag of superlatives in declaring it possibly the most hard-fought single point he could recall in his decades at McLaren.
Hamilton has had a hard time of late, on and off the track. His decision to depart and his postings on Twitter, for some of which he has had to apologise, have intensified media scrutiny of his state of mind.
He has been portrayed as increasingly isolated, a view reinforced by his revelation that an attempt to take his mechanics bowling the night before the Japanese GP was skittled by them accepting an invitation to go running with team mate Jenson Button.
Whitmarsh and Button, speaking separately to Reuters, were adamant that that was not the case and Hamilton would get a proper send-off. Whitmarsh said: "Of course people were disappointed to lose Lewis but he has been here a long time.
"I'm sure we'll get together and remember lots of fantastic achievements, many race wins, many poles, many great races and a great World championship in 2008.
"He's loved in this team and he knows that."
Hamilton has not won a race since the 2012 Italian Grand Prix but he appeared happier on Sunday, October 14, in Yeongam than he did after his champagne celebrations at Monza.
Hamilton wanted to show his commitment and in his heroic drive for only one point, he also made his point. He said: "It's nice to be appreciated, because I really didn't give up. It was one of the hardest races I have ever had. The car was a disaster and I was thinking people would say I'm making an excuse again. I really wasn't.
"I have not been distracted once this year. I’m still 100% a part of this team, right until the last minute. People will continue to say there's a rift between me and Jenson but there are no issues between us. We've been fantastic team mates."
Button said his team mate, while not a close friend, was still a “massive part” of McLaren.