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Hamilton should keep quiet

Departing star should be grateful for McLaren’s long-term support

Gulf News

I wonder if I am reading too much between the lines, or is Lewis Hamilton blaming his team McLaren for his world title demise?

His upcoming exit from McLaren, his base for 14 years, to Mercedes has always been questionably amicable and it seems to me that there is some cold air blowing across the scene, wafted by the departing Hamilton.

With two grands prix left, his private frustration at his disastrous plunge down the Formula One rankings has finally publicly surfaced.

And it would appear the 2008 world champion’s barely-contained rage at his team’s lack of consistency and its too frequent ineptitude has triggered a parting message of utter disillusion and disappointment.

Why, otherwise, would he expound: “If my car was as reliable as Vettel’s or Alonso’s this year, I would be up there with them right now — maybe even ahead. Who knows?”

His misery at yet another mechanical failure and retirement when he was looking all over the brilliant start-to-stop winner of the Abu Dhabi showpiece is as intense today as it was on Sunday.

He headed the charge around Yas Marina for 19 laps before a fuel pump problem forced him out of the race — and shoved him further down the championship reckonings. Yet another mishap beyond his control.

Normally drivers swallow their disappointment and keep quiet, or are ordered to for the sake of team harmony, but because Hamilton will soon be tagged as a former McLaren man he clearly is not worried about any sanctions.

His cold assessment of a season gone woefully amiss continues, with reminders that he has been on pole position six times this season but has won from them only twice, in Hungary and Italy.

“In the other ones I have had we have had failures and issues with pitstops and so on,” he said. “If you start on pole you generally should win the race unless you have major issues — and I did in about half the races I started from pole.

“The reliability statistic is nice to have, but more world championships would be better. And I am sure Mclaren would say the same.”

He has a point. But I suspect the McLaren hierarchy, especially his long-term mentor Ron Dennis, the ultimate boss, who can barely bring himself to communicate now with the driver he nurtured to world domination, would have preferred him to edge towards the exit with a more diplomatic and grateful attitude.

Praise for the team’s overall support across the years rather than harsh criticism for its setbacks of late would have sent him on his way with traces of affection and not upset bordering on good riddance.

The question is now: what damage will he have done to his pit-lane crew’s morale as he looks for their backing in the final two races in Texas and Brazil?

The car may not always have matched his ambitions for it, and these things do happen, but overall, down the years, McLaren gave him all the backing in their power and afforded him endless opportunities to be a front runner.

For that he should be grateful. And silent about his inner feelings. After all, what’s the use of laying the blame now he’s on his way to another team?

— The writer is a motorsport expert based in the UK