Neale: McLaren ‘closer’ to 2013 Hamilton deal

Lewis Hamilton and McLaren are apparently now “closer” than ever to agreeing a new deal beyond the 2008 world champion’s current contract.

With the 27-year-old Briton’s current deal expiring this year, he has been linked with sensational moves to Lotus or Mercedes. Rumours have said the McLaren impasse is essentially over money, although Hamilton said recently the fact he is currently not allowed to keep his original trophies or helmets is a “push point” in the negotiations.

“In a lot of other teams, the drivers get their original trophies,” he is quoted by the Guardian. “So whatever contract I’m having next, that is going to be a push point.”

McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale suggested this week that Hamilton is now close to signing on for 2013.

“We are closer and of course we (are) in dialogue,” he is quoted as saying by the Sun. “We are working hard to find common ground.”

Asked if both McLaren and Hamilton want to keep working together in the future, Neale insisted: “Very much so.”


McLaren pour scorn on Anderson’s ill-founded criticisms

Jonathan Neale, McLaren’s Managing Director, has responded to comments made by Gary Anderson who slammed the Woking based team for taking so long to repair Jenson Button’s car during practice for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Responding to Anderson, Neale concluded that the ex-Jordan and Stewart Grand Prix Technical Director (from 1991 to 2003) was out of touch with today’s F1 cars, which are more complicated and time-consuming to work on given how integrated and tightly packed their systems are in comparison with previous generations.

“You have to go back to FP1,” Neale explained. “As Jenson came out of the last corner on his final run he felt he had a lot of wheel spin, which turned out to be clutch slip.”

“After getting the car into the garage and taking it apart we found oil contamination of the clutch which causes the plates to slip. Clearly it was something we had to address. The oil was coming from the gearbox through one of the seals, which we would routinely change.”

“But the problem these days, if you take a modern gearbox on a Formula One car, they, and the powertrain in particular, are so integrated now. The packaging is so extreme that to take off a gearbox and put it on again routinely takes, on average up and down the grid, an hour and three quarters.”

“Bear in mind to even start a Formula One car from a laptop from cold these days takes an hour and a half. So it’s not as trivial as some might have you believe.”

Neale also revealed that the team had actually completed two gearbox changes – a second issue was found once the engine was started after the initial gearbox change.

“So we changed the seal in between FP1 and FP2, got the car back together, got the floor on, fired it up and discovered we then had a secondary issue which wasn’t knowable prior to that event,” Neale continued.

“So it all had to come off again and we had to do two gearbox changes. There wasn’t time to delve into the root cause, so we changed the back end of the car, which was another hour and three quarters.”

Neale: We would like Hamilton to continue racing for McLaren

Admitting McLaren wants to keep Lewis Hamilton beyond 2012, managing director Jonathan Neale on Thursday played down claims the team’s loss of form and repeated errors could convince the 2008 world champion to jump ship.

Back to top form in 2012, Hamilton admitted frustration with McLaren’s repeated errors and mysterious slip in pace after yet another difficult weekend in Monaco recently. But Neale told reporters ahead of the Canadian grand prix that he doubts the team’s short-term issues will be the reason if 27-year-old Hamilton decides to leave McLaren at the end of his expiring contract.

“I wouldn’t put the last two or three races into a professional like Lewis’ mind in terms of where he’s going to be comfortable in the future,” he said. “We would like Lewis to continue racing for us. We have plenty of time.

“We don’t need to make that decision until much later this year. You have to judge the performance of the team in the long term relative to other teams and we stand fairly well placed. But I’m not going to walk away from the fact that we have to continue to work hard to eliminate mistakes and find the upgrades and performance.

“Six races and six different winners – nobody’s consistent at the moment.”