No 'plan B' if Hamilton quits

  • Last Updated: September 10 2012, 12:38 BST

Martin Whitmarsh has surprisingly revealed there is no plan B should Lewis Hamilton decide to quit McLaren.

Lewis Hamilton: Linked with move to Mercedes

It would appear McLaren's team principal is placing all his eggs in one basket, firmly believing Hamilton will not walk out on a team that has taken care of his career for the last 14 years.

The Italian Grand Prix weekend was a reminder to Hamilton - if it were ever needed - of just how good his life is at McLaren, even if he believes he has not won the number of titles his talent deserves with the Woking-based marque.

It was a reminder to Whitmarsh, too, he has one of the top three drivers in the world on his books and the team should do everything within their financial means to hold on to him.

The 27-year-old was flawless in Monza, following up the 23rd pole of his F1 career with his 20th victory to close the gap on championship leader Fernando Alonso to 37 points with seven grands prix remaining.

It led to Whitmarsh describing as "fantasy" the suggestions made by former team principal Eddie Jordan last week that Hamilton had already signed for rivals Mercedes and an announcement of the deal was imminent.

But there are no guarantees Hamilton will stay as it is known his management company, impresario Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment, are talking to Mercedes.

So when asked as to a back-up plan should Hamilton opt not to renew his contract, Whitmarsh replied: "I haven't given plan B any thought.

"We want Lewis to stay, and we want him to stay if he wants to stay.

"But in terms of when you are trying to win a championship, I've a number of priorities.

"You divide your time, energy and focus on those things - one of them is making the car faster, better; another is dealing with all the operational issues to make sure you don't make mistakes, and the other is dealing with your own drivers.

"But rightly or wrongly I haven't spent a lot of energy on that (plan B) subject."

Whitmarsh is, however, determined to sit down with Fuller for more talks, hopefully before the next race in Singapore in a fortnight's time.

Fuller has been in New York of late watching another of his clients in action in Andy Murray in the US Open, so no progress has been made these past few days.

"As you know we deal with management companies, not directly with drivers, which is the way of the world - or the way of the drivers - so I'm sure we'll be having those conversations very shortly," said Whitmarsh.

"I can imagine we'll have some conversations before Singapore."

It would appear such talks have taken on added priority given the interest from Mercedes, but Whitmarsh insists he has been aware all along of what has been going on behind the scenes.

"I'm aware of quite a lot of things," said Whitmarsh.

"It's a small paddock and they (XIX) have to be seen to do their due diligence, as you can imagine, so I'm not surprised.

"I have some knowledge, in fact, of what's been going on."

To that end, the pressure on the shoulders of Whitmarsh from shareholders and sponsors is likely to be immense because can McLaren realistically afford to be without Hamilton, despite the talents of team-mate Jenson Button?

Whitmarsh said: "McLaren has, since 1966, won 25% of all the races, and if you are team principal of McLaren there is a certain amount of pressure on your shoulders. That's what I'm facing.

"We have to win races and we have to win the championship. There are all sorts of other issues, but that's what makes the adrenaline pump and makes it fun."

On track at Monza was certainly fun, although a fuel issue with Button's car denied McLaren a one-two and the perfect weekend.

Regardless, it is three successive poles and victories for McLaren, who have become the team to beat, yet they still cannot overtake Alonso in the drivers' championship, nor Red Bull in the constructors', although the latter gap is down to 19 points.

But Whitmarsh said: "Our recent run is a consequence of fantastic work from everyone at Woking.

"It's a combination of creativity, diligence and working hard that has brought us into a competitive position, and then we've two great drivers.

"We've been talking about some positive momentum, we've clearly some good momentum at the moment, and if we can maintain it there is no reason why we can't win both championships."