Current world championship leader Lewis Hamilton has discussed the 'different' manner in which McLaren-Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh handles himself compared to his F1 counterparts – and revealed that his relationship with his father Anthony is 'bit-by-bit...getting better and better'.
Whitmarsh assumed the helm of the Woking-based outfit at the beginning of last season, following almost three decades of Ron Dennis leadership. The 52-year-old Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) Chairman has been credited with changing the atmosphere inside McLaren and overwhelmingly improving the team's relationship with governing body the FIA.
Whilst acknowledging that the new boss 'is doing a great job', Hamilton insists Dennis' substantial contribution and role in the tremendous success story over the past three decades should never be underestimated or forgotten.
“Martin and Ron are not two people you would want to compare,” the British star stressed. “They are two great characters who always kind of balanced each other out. First-and-foremost, you can never forget what Ron has been to the team and done for the team, and although he is not there at the races anymore, he is very much still a part of the team. He made all this possible – the image of the team and its success is hugely down to his direction and his view.
“Martin worked with Ron for over 20 years – he is McLaren through-and-through and was Ron's right-hand man the whole time, so it was a natural progression for him to take the lead. He has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, but he is doing a great job and his communication is very clear.
“The way he conducts himself is perhaps different to the way other team managers conduct themselves. He eats with all the mechanics in the main canteen at the factory, and has no separate private office at the track – his office is with all the engineers. He is very much in-touch, and he does an incredible job; it's very easy to work with him, but you have to remember he is your boss.”
Whitmarsh's first race in charge, ironically, also marked the first sign of cracks in the hitherto bulletproof Hamilton father/son partnership, with Anthony Hamilton – who had acted as Lewis' long-time mentor and manager – understood to have been furious with the way in which McLaren handled the Melbourne 'lies' scandal and the fact that the team had allowed the 2008 F1 World Champion to get himself into such a situation and put himself in the line of accusation in the first place.
Twelve months later, amidst escalating rumours about tension between the two parties, an 'amicable' parting of the ways was confirmed – and Anthony has not been to an F1 race since. He will re-appear at Silverstone for the upcoming British Grand Prix, it is believed – but it seems clear from Hamilton Jnr's answer to a question on the matter that there remains some way to go to fully patch up the pair's damaged relationship.
“We've still not spent a lot of time together, but bit-by-bit things are progressing and getting better and better,” the 25-year-old confirmed. “It's going to take time, but as I've always said, I'm just staying focussed on my job. That's the most important thing at the moment, and everything else will fall into place.”