Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Hamilton breaks the silence with mentor Dennis
By Abhishek Takle and Amlan Chakraborty
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - McLaren's Lewis Hamilton has spoken to former team boss and mentor Ron Dennis for the first time since the 2008 Formula One world champion's switch to Mercedes was announced last month.
Hamilton, who has signed a three-year deal to drive for the German manufacturer from next year, said he had visited the McLaren factory in Woking on Friday but there had been no big farewell speech.
"I haven't sat down and spoken to anyone just because we're still in the motion of the year...it's not the end yet," the 27-year-old Briton told reporters on Wednesday ahead of the weekend's Indian Grand Prix.
"It's important now to try and keep the motivation up high, so when I went back I did the normal things that I do," he added at a promotional event for team sponsors Vodafone.
"I spoke to Ron and me and Ron, we're planning to meet up I think it's in Abu Dhabi. We'll go for dinner, have a good chat."
McLaren have backed Hamilton since he was 13 and racing go-karts. The youngster had famously walked up to Dennis at a gala awards event and told him he would drive for him one day.
Dennis, who handed over to Martin Whitmarsh in 2009 and is now McLaren's executive chairman, took a paternal interest in Hamilton's career and gave him his F1 debut in 2007, when he almost won the championship at the first attempt.
Cracks have appeared in the relationship since then and Hamilton told reporters in South Korea 10 days ago that he had still not spoken to Dennis about his decision to leave.
Hamilton, who will replace seven-times champion Michael Schumacher at Mercedes, is reconciled to ending up as an also-ran in a 2012 title race that looks to be between Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
"When I won the world championship, I wasn't as lucky as Sebastian has been to have a car that's as dominant the next year as well," Hamilton said of the 25-year-old German who is chasing a third championship in a row.
"I'm definitely very sad that we've not been able to win another world championship...I feel that we, as a team, are good enough to have done so and I feel that I'm good enough to have done so. For whatever reason it hasn't happened and I'm not going to complain."
Hamilton repeated his view that the championship would probably be out of his reach next year as well, with Mercedes having ground to make up.
With four races remaining in one of the sport's most competitive and hard-fought seasons, Vettel is six points clear of Alonso. Hamilton is fourth, 62 points adrift.
In South Korea, Hamilton had to fight hard for 10th place while McLaren slipped to third in the constructors' standings - six points behind Ferrari and 83 points adrift of leaders and defending champions Red Bull.
"For the rest of the year now it's just to try and help the team win the constructors' championship," said Hamilton.
"Realistically we are too far away, I would say, to win the drivers'. If we did through some kind of miracle, then I'll eat my words."
McLaren last won the constructors' title in 1998, although they would have won the 2007 championship had the team not been stripped of all their points for a scandal involving leaked Ferrari data in their possession.
"We had a chance in 2007, we had it taken away from us. So, yeah, to have that again and go out on a high like that would be fantastic," said Hamilton.