Hamilton hails ‘respect’ in McLaren camp

Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton is certain the in-fighting affecting rivals Red Bull could never happen at McLaren despite team mate Jenson Button lying just behind him in second spot.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber won the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on July 11 but the Australian was incensed after the team took a new wing off his car and handed it to team mate Sebastian Vettel for the qualifying session.

Hamilton coasted to a second place finish to stretch his overall lead to 12 points while defending champion and fellow Briton Button came in fourth before letting his team mate hop in his road car.

“He gave me a lift home at Silverstone last week and I would do the same for him,” Hamilton told Reuters, while acknowledging the pair are not best friends and rarely relax together.

“No, there’s respect,” he added when asked if Red Bull’s woes could ever be witnessed in the current McLaren set up.

Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, was awarded the prestigious Lorenzo Bandini trophy at the weekend in the small northern Italian town of Brisighella.

The annual prize in honour of Brisighella resident Bandini who died in a crash at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1967 could be the first of many for Hamilton this year but thoughts of another F1 title are yet to enter his head.

“It’s strange. I’ve had four solid races, two wins and two second places, and yet I’m only 12 points ahead,” he said on a scorching hot day in the Brisighella mayor’s office.

“We’ll have to see how it goes but if I can increase that gap a bit I’ll certainly be happier.”

Fan favourite
Hamilton reckoned Red Bull could again be the quickest at this weekend’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim despite their “driver problems” as McLaren race to upgrade their car.

However, he hailed his team for a togetherness which is helping them pick up crucial points when others stray.

He used the example of Mercedes’ troubles this season, where returning great Michael Schumacher has struggled to make any impact, to illustrate the importance of having familiarity in Formula One.

“Mercedes came from another team but in effect it’s their first season and you can’t expect everything to fall into place. McLaren have that vital experience and it’s working well this year,” he said.

Hamilton made himself a fan favourite in medieval Brisighella by bringing his pop star girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger along and offering free tickets for local children to visit the McLaren factory in Britain.

He also saluted local hero Valentino Rossi, who stunned motorsport by finishing fourth in Sunday’s German MotoGP just six weeks after breaking his leg and being told he would be out for at least three months.

“He is crazy,” Hamilton laughed, adding he one day would like to see the Rossi try F1. — Reuters

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