Whitmarsh: calling Lewis in was a wrong but fair decision

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has issued a further mea culpa for having called Lewis Hamilton into the pits for a second time during yesterday’s Australian Grand Prix, but added that it had been a fair decision to make.

The team projected that Hamilton’s tyres would be shot by the end of the race, and after looking at the pace of Mark Webber on new tyres, decided to order the 2008 champion in. The decision, described by Hamilton during the race as ‘fricking terrible’, ultimately saw him stuck behind two Ferraris and ruined the team’s chances of a one-two.

Whitmarsh said that the state of Lewis’ first set of tyres, and Webber’s pace, had been a factor.

“Lewis was losing time behind [Robert] Kubica, you could see he had graining of his rear left tyre and you could see that Michael [Schumacher] had stopped and was going purple, Webber had stopped and was going purple and more than one second per lap quicker,” said Whitmarsh.

“With the information we had at the time, given where Lewis was, we felt that it was the right call. I think in retrospect and hindsight, if we look at how the race played out – if Lewis could have made those tyres last then he could have finished at least second today and we would have a 1-2.”

Whitmarsh, quoted by Autosport, said that the team would never truly be happy with anything less than a one-two, and congratulated Hamilton on his efforts.

“Inimitably in McLaren style, you look at a win and say – ‘damn, it could have been a one-two’. It was disappointing because it was a fantastic drive by Lewis. We as a team made that decision, I have to be accountable for that and I am disappointed with the outcome, but I am not disappointed by the process because I thought it was the right decision at the time.”