McLaren have no ‘Plan B’

Team says they want Lewis Hamilton to stay,will open fresh contract talks

Written by Reuters | Monza (italy) | Published:September 11, 2012 12:23 am

Alan Baldwin

McLaren have no ‘Plan B’ in place should Lewis Hamilton decide to leave the team at the end of the season and will speed up contract negotiations in the next few days to try to make sure he stays.

After Hamilton won Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix,team principal Martin Whitmarsh dismissed as fantasy speculation thatthe 2008 champion was close to agreeing a deal with Mercedes.

“I haven’t given Plan B any thought,” he said when asked about an alternative strategy should Hamilton decide to go. “We want Lewis to stay and we want him to stay if he wants to stay.”

Briton Hamilton,who media reports say wants more money as well as control of his brand,showed on Sunday why he is one of the hottest properties in Formula One while McLaren made a compelling case for him remaining with them.

The victory at Ferrari’s home circuit was McLaren’s third in a row from pole position,something no other team has managed this season,and came after a record 62nd front row sweep in qualifying.

They are now 29 points adrift of champions Red Bull in the constructors’ standings with seven races remaining and Hamilton second in the drivers’ title race with 37 points between him and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

‘Take this team to the top’

“I’m not really focusing on next year,I want to focus on this year. This is one race at a time and I’m trying to take this team to the top,” Hamilton,who has been backed by McLaren since he was a teenage go-karter,said on Sunday.

“I’m trying to help them as they are trying to help me to win both championships. It is an incredible team and I have a great relationship with them,” added the 27-year-old.

Hamilton arrived in Monza after Eddie Jordan,the former team owner,said a deal was imminent with Mercedes for Hamilton to replace Michael Schumacher. The report set the tone for the weekend,with Hamilton and McLaren doing their best not to be distracted by the rumblings of the rumour mill.

“I can imagine we’ll have some conversations before Singapore,” Whitmarsh said,referring to next week’s 14th round of the 20 race championship.

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