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Lewis Hamilton’s departure from McLaren at the end of the season will have no bearing on how the British team treats its driver, with both Martin Whitmarsh and Jenson Button insisting that the situation with the 2008 world champion is smooth as ever.
Mechanics invited to Hamilton’s farewell in Japan opted not to attend the occasion and tagged along for Button’s charity run instead with the 2009 world champion also reported to have made a remark on Hamilton being late during a media briefing, suggesting a meltdown of relationships.
"I didn't say a word of that. He (the reporter) said (also) that 'Lewis feels like he's left the team.' I don't think Lewis feels like that either," Button told Reuters.
"It's amazing how people are so opinionated about what they see happening within this team with the drivers. None of it is true in the slightest," he said adding that the atmosphere in the team was fantastic.
Button however did make his feelings clear on Hamilton’s choice to switch to Mercedes for next season.
"He's chosen to go his own way at the end of the year and that's his decision,” he said. “I personally don't feel it's the right decision but it's his.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh acknowledged that there was disappointment in the camp to lose Hamilton and that 27-year-old would get a proper send-off.
"One way or another I'm sure we'll get together and remember lots of fantastic achievements, many race wins, many poles, many great races and a great world championship in 2008,” Whitmarsh told Reuters. "He's loved in this team and he knows that."
An appreciated Hamilton had admitted that his title chances were realistically over at the Korean Grand Prix after he emerged with just a solitary point at the end of the race in a car he described as a ‘disaster’.
“I was thinking people are just going to say I'm making an excuse again. But I really wasn't,” said Hamilton who insisted that he’ll fight for McLaren right until the last minute.
“People will continue to say there's a rift between me and Jenson and there honestly are no issues between us," he said. “I think I am loved as much as I love the team. Hopefully."