Martin Whitmarsh has backed McLaren’s under-fire sporting director Sam Michael.
Australian Michael joined the team this year after being ousted at Williams, at the end of that famous British team’s worst season in memory. Some have linked McLaren’s repeated tactical and pitstop errors with Michael’s arrival, but boss Whitmarsh insists that, in fact, some of the team’s recent pitstops have been the fastest in history.
Telegraph journalist Tom Cary said that is “like saying you have scored the most beautiful goal in (soccer) but let in five at the other end”.
Whitmarsh, however, said 41-year-old Michael has time.
“He’s doing a good job,” said the Briton. “I think if we’re not the best race team in the world this time next year the fingers can be pointed a bit more strongly”.
Actually, rounding on Michael could have been a way for Whitmarsh to lift some of the pressure on his own shoulders. Not since taking over from Ron Dennis for 2009 has McLaren won a title.
But Whitmarsh insisted that “I can say to you, honestly, that I don’t feel I have a monkey on my back but when – and I stress when – we win the championship I might reflect differently.”
Rumours persist that it may never happen under his reign.
“Ron and I have an interesting relationship,” he said when asked about Dennis, who has been an increasing presence at recent races. “It’s not always a positive one. And if there’s one person who wants to be team principal it’s him. But there is no pressure from Ron whatsoever. No pressure from outside really,” Whitmarsh said.
“Ultimately the pressure is from inside me. I’m very aware of the fact that it’s the 50th anniversary of the team next year and there have only ever been four team principals — Bruce (McLaren), Teddy Mayer, Ron and myself.”