Lewis Hamilton gave away more clues about his future after winning Sunday’s Italian grand prix.
Although at Monza the Briton matched Mika Hakkinen’s career tally of 20 wins, he looked miserable as he celebrated the Monza victory with his team. Observing the post-race events, Express journalist Bob McKenzie wrote: “Hamilton looked like a man who has the world on his shoulders rather than in front of him”. And photos of the British team’s traditional victory photograph depicted Hamilton, 27, as the only McLaren member without his fist aloft in triumph.
“There appeared to be tension in the air,” said another observer, writing for the French news agency AFP. “As (team boss Martin) Whitmarsh hugged Hamilton, the embrace looked strained and then the 2008 champion struggled to raise a smile, or a clenched fist, when asked to by photographers.”
Was Hamilton’s mood indicative of a terminal falling-out with McLaren, on the eve of a rumoured 2012 switch to rivals Mercedes?
A report in the Daily Mail said Ron Dennis, McLaren’s impresario who was at Monza for the grand prix, failed to applaud when Hamilton collected the winner’s trophy. Asked if it would be a shame if McLaren did not have two Britons at the wheel next year, Dennis answered: “It is not essential, we always have the two best available drivers.”
Whitmarsh is quoted as saying: “We want Lewis to stay if he wants to stay.”
Writing in the Times, Kevin Eason suspects the cat may be out of the bag following a recent meeting between Hamilton and Bernie Ecclestone. Not long after that get-together, Eddie Jordan was telling the world Michael Schumacher is going to be replaced by Hamilton next year.
Actually, Hamilton still has the entire paddock guessing.
Asked if it’s a shame his teammate Jenson Button could not complete a McLaren one-two on Sunday, he teased: “Maybe next year.”
Not, however, if some of Hamilton’s McLaren colleagues have anything to do with it. One unnamed McLaren staffer told Der Spiegel at Monza: “We are extremely upset with him.
“He should go.”