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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hamilton's Intentions are Plain

My March Archive includes a number of blogs in relation to McLaren Team harmony and the fact that Lewis and his management were stirring the proverbial ***t in a serious way.  At the time I was of the opinion that it was partly a tactic to spur McLaren on, partly an attempt to renegotiate a higher fee, and partly a statement to other teams that he was available for a little chat.

What happened in Canada?  A little chat with Christian Horner.  Funny how his management company had a representative in Montreal when they weren't in Monaco, and even funnier that their presence was felt after the little chat took place.  A few strategic words to say that "Neither Lewis nor his management team have had any discussions with regard to moving team" and leave the rest up to yourself.  Remember Lewis slagging RBR off earlier in the season?

Hamilton's contract with McLaren is up in 2012 and it's pretty standard to be setting the scene at this early, pre-negotiation stage.

If I were McLaren though I'd be thinking like Frank Williams, that if I can produce a winning car then I only need to hire two drivers who can win and the season is sewn up.  The prime focus for the team is the Constructor's Championship, with the Driver's Championship only the public jewel in the crown.

Jenson can deliver wins; and with a winning car under his belt would do a lot of the work to grab the Constructor's trophy, all that's needed after that is another driver who, given the right car, can take wins where Jenson can't.

Once again we are talking about a winning car, the staple requirement for every Championship.

I mean, let's face it - regardless of his undoubted talent I have to reiterate again and again that Lewis, since he parted from the management of his father (and since Ron Dennis left the pitlane), has exhibited signs of an increasing egocentricity combined with a most unfortunate "Mansell"-like tendency to whinge when things aren't going his way.

While I'm sure that his vast talent makes him a very attractive prospect for most teams, as a front-runner McLaren really don't need him to win championships.  Given the right car Rosberg, Massa, Kubica, Trulli (call me sentimental), and a certain MS would have no problem bringing home the remaining wins, and creating a team where both drivers can compete for the Driver's trophy while ensuring the Constructor's Championship for the team.

Personally I think that Lewis needs a strong boss who'll stick his emerging hubris back into its box.  I'm all for self-confidence and pride but his boss needs to encourage that while discouraging the less attractive qualities which go with it.  I think Horner may be the guy to do it - Frank W just wouldn't engage with it and Lewis would find himself out on his ear after a year. I don't think Ross Brawn would be bothered reigning him in - Domenicalli isn't a runner and I don't know enough about Boullier to judge his abilities in man management.

What Lewis really needs is another Ron - but he won't get that unless he moves down the grid to the likes of Peter Sauber who is one of the stalwarts who has seen drivers come and go and is used to dealing with over-inflated ego's.

For McLaren, I think Massa would blossom in a partnership with Jenson (let's face it you just can't hate the guy at all!).  Both Jenson and Filipe appear to be genuine characters.  They both have the drive to win but it is packaged in a friendly and open manner.  Massa has suffered at Ferrari over the last couple of seasons - particularly since his accident - and needs a nurturing atmosphere, which McLaren would provide.  It's great to see him getting back in the swing of things over the last couple of races and this will help him move.

Rosberg too seems to be a genuinely nice guy.  Adam Cooper tweeted a few hours ago " #F1 Just had a chat with @nico_rosberg at Montreal Airport. He was in normal cafe, not some fancy lounge. Top bloke".  But regardless of Adam Cooper's take the way Nico talks on camera is serious, down to earth, and professional, but you can see that he has a sense of humour to go with it.

I think that either of those guys would be a great asset to McLaren from a driver's and a PR perspective.  Lewis' mouth is becoming a PR and team liability - which is just not the McLaren way, while his driving is also becoming somewhat erratic as a result of his increasing frustrations in the car.  One is feeding the other while XIX management seems to be more focused on Lewis the individual Brand rather than Lewis the team asset.

Hamilton should be encouraged to go elsewhere for next season - the Ron Dennis asset is turning into a Martin Whitmarsh nightmare liability.