McLaren help Hamilton to third pole in four races as talk of split focuses minds
19:06 GMT, 22 September 2012
Lewis Hamilton's conviction that he
retains the unwavering support of McLaren in his bid to land a second
Formula One world championship stood up to scrutiny in Singapore as he
blitzed the Marina Bay street circuit to take his third pole in four
The real possibility that Hamilton
could be on his way to Mercedes has led to suggestions that McLaren
might not be too happy for the 27-year-old to take the drivers' title to
a rival team.
However, Hamilton's assertion that he
has '1,000 per cent confidence' in McLaren seemed well judged, as he
saw off his nearest challenger for pole, Pastor Maldonado of Williams,
by almost half a second.
On top: But Lewis Hamilton is not satisfied
Hamilton's stunning qualifying
display – his fifth pole of the season and the 24th of his career –
earned generous praise from McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.
'Lewis has been strong here all
weekend,' said Whitmarsh. 'He has just driven perfectly. It is a circuit
where you have got to be millimetre perfect … and he did a great job.
He realises the championship is winnable. He is in a really good place
and it is quite possible all the chat has caused him to put the barriers
up and focus on driving.'
Even so, such performances from
Hamilton are seemingly not enough for McLaren to loosen the purse
strings in an effort to fend off Mercedes.
McLaren are understood to have
offered a small sweetener in an effort to get Hamilton to put pen to
paper, but nothing close to matching the potential 60million over three
years he could earn at Mercedes.
Flying: Lewis Hamilton qualified in pole position
It is becoming increasingly clear
that the financial picture is not going to change significantly and
Hamilton now faces a straight choice between sticking by a team with a
proven history of success, or switching to one which has offered him
assurances that they will continue to invest until they are a match for
Jenson Button will be hopeful of capitalising on any first-lap mishaps from fourth on the grid.
Now that his personal title tilt is
all but over, Button's focus has firmly switched to helping McLaren win
their first constructors' title for 14 years.
'If you feel like a team player and you feel a team are around you, then the constructors means a lot,' said Button.