|© AP Photo/Wong Maye-E
McLaren may have the quickest car at this stage of the season, but it’s not reliable enough to let the British team make the most of it.
Lewis Hamilton retired at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday with a gearbox failure, registering McLaren’s fourth exit in the last five races but the team aims to regroup to try and win the next six races.
“An hour afterwards it feels pretty sickening but tomorrow we’ll bounce back,” team principal Martin Whitmarsh said about Hamilton’s retirement.
“There are 150 points available for Lewis in the championship. We score those and Fernando (Alonso) has still got to go and get a 100, isn’t he? That’s a lot of points and a lot of things can still happen,” he pointed out.
During the outing at the Marina Bay Street Circuit however, a radio message suggested that McLaren knew about the gearbox ahead of the Grand Prix, a claim that Whitmarsh denied.
“Not before the race,” the Briton said. “But we obviously saw it coming in the data. That’s the thing about telemetry, you see it unfold. We knew sadly sometime before Lewis that the gearbox wasn’t about to go to the end of the race.
“It's clearly disappointing. We have to be analytical and we make sure we get all the data from this obviously. That 'box will be going back, as will Jenson's,” he added.
Jenson Button survived any such mishap this time to finish second in Singapore but expressed concerns about reliability especially since he had suffered during the preceding Italian Grand Prix.
“It’s disappointing for the team to have another DNF - two weekends on the trot. It’s something that we need to sort out because as a team over the race weekends we’re doing a great job and the pace is there with the car,” Button said. “Over the last few races the results we’ve had have been very good but it’s just we can’t seem to do that with both cars. It’s something for sure we need to work on for the rest of the season.”
Hamilton was “cruising” before his “heartbreaking” exit and looked set to register an easy victory.
“We could see early on that he was conserving his tyres, he was pretty much in control and frankly without that he would have had a fairly comfortable victory,” Whitmarsh reckoned.
The season will now head to the Japanese Grand Prix, at a circuit that should suit McLaren although Whitmarsh acknowledged that “predictions this year are dangerous”.
“We’d rather have no DNFs for the rest of the season,” is all he hoped.