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Motor racing-McLaren say they have learnt lesson of 2007

2008-09-30 12:21


LONDON, Sept 30 - Formula One leaders McLaren pushed too hard with Lewis Hamilton last year and have learned from that title failure, according to team chief Martin Whitmarsh.

"I think an inherent weakness in the team and Lewis last year was the overwhelming desire to win the race at almost any risk," Britain's Guardian newspaper quoted the chief operating officer as saying on Tuesday.

"That is more forgivable in Lewis. You would like to have that in a young racing driver," he added.

"We as a team should have been more disciplined than we were.

"We wanted to win and pushed too hard when we didn't need to. Championships aren't won like that," continued Whitmarsh. "Last year was an example of that.

"While it is excusable for Lewis in his first year, it was not excusable for us as a team."

McLaren are leading both championships with three races remaining, 23-year-old Hamilton seven points clear of Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa while his team are one ahead of their Italian rivals.

Hamilton also led the championship at the same stage of his rookie season last year but ended up losing by a single point to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Raikkonen, who is now effectively out of the running, clawed back a 17-point deficit in the final two races after Hamilton slid off the track in China on worn tyres and then limped home seventh in Brazil.


This time it is Ferrari who are on the back foot after a glaring pitstop blunder on the 18th lap of Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix, the first held at night, cost Massa the lead and any chance of scoring points.

Hamilton's third place meant that the Briton need now only finish second in the remaining races to become Formula One's youngest champion.

McLaren's changed approach was evident on Sunday when Hamilton banked the six points rather than try to challenge Williams' Nico Rosberg for second place, despite lapping considerably quicker.

"We advised Lewis not to attempt to overtake Nico but instead to settle for third place," said team principal and co-owner Ron Dennis afterwards.

Hamilton agreed on his website (www.lewishamilton.com) that the win-at-all-cost strategy was dead.

"Consistency is what will win this world championship and I feel really pleased that we did that in Singapore," he said.

"We only finished third, but we couldn't really have asked for more from that result. I didn't want to risk throwing those points away with any kind of move as you never know what might happen."

McLaren, winners of 161 races and eight constructors' championships since 1966, have not won a title since Finland's Mika Hakkinen took his second drivers' crown for the Mercedes-powered team in 1999.


heading test edit

2008-08-06 14:14

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