Lewis Hamilton has been advised to 'take a deep breath and chill out' rather than repeatedly blaming his team for everything that is going wrong in F1 2011 – with John Watson arguing that the McLaren-Mercedes star is letting his 'frustration' get the better of him far too often and that 'his burning desire to win is affecting his equilibrium'.
Hamilton has endured a torrid time of things this season to-date, triumphing just once from the opening nine grands prix and currently trailing runaway world championship leader Sebastian Vettel by a staggering 95 points in the title standings at the halfway stage – meaning his chances of adding to his 2008 drivers' crown look to be slim in the extreme.
The Briton's troubles on-track have been compounded by a number of run-ins with FIA stewards for his overly-aggressive driving – with his contentious collisions with both Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado in Monaco a particular nadir – as well as some uncharacteristically outspoken comments in interviews, most notably his distinctly ill-advised 'maybe it's because I'm black' quip and his assertion that he 'doesn't give a toss' about what the likes of three-time F1 World Champion Niki Lauda have to say [see separate story – click here
What's more, Hamilton's level of commitment to his team has appeared to oscillate from one race to the next, at one juncture insisting that he is with McLaren for the long haul, and then at the next claiming that 'loyalty has its limits' and being spied in discussions with Christian Horner – team principal of F1 2011 pace-setters Red Bull Racing.
The latest criticism came at Silverstone just over a week ago, when the 26-year-old publicly slated his team on two separate occasions – once after a qualifying session that left him just tenth, having taken to the track on old rubber for his first run in Q3, and then again after the British Grand Prix, in which fuel conservation concerns denied him the possibility of a podium finish in front of his adoring home fans and left him fighting off Ferrari rival Massa right the way to the chequered flag. He went on to state that if he does sign a new contract with the team, there will be strict limitations to his sponsorship commitments [see separate story – click here
Five-time grand prix-winner Watson – a former McLaren man himself and team-mate to Lauda back in 1982 and 1983 – is adamant that Hamilton needs to take a step back, get a grip and accept his share of the blame for the Woking-based outfit's present malaise
...rather than constantly seeking to pin the responsibility on the team.
“I was really surprised that Lewis chose to blame the team [at Silverstone],” the veteran of 152 grands prix – now a television pundit – told the Daily Express
. “The decision whether to go out on new tyres would have been discussed by Lewis and his engineers. If your team-mate and everybody around you is going out on new tyres, then clearly the decision to go out on old tyres was a bad error – but the criticism shows the level of frustration Lewis is feeling at the moment. He is clearly angry that he is not more competitive, but Red Bull have a better car.
“Lewis is a tremendous racer, but his burning desire to win is affecting his equilibrium and he is being too aggressive at times. I want to see drivers attack, but I don't want to see a guy's frustration get the better of his judgement. Lewis vented that frustration with his recent comments, and the way he reacted to Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda's criticisms of his driving in Monaco and Canada. Motor racing may be different now to when they were racing, but both are three-time world champions.
“Lewis is clearly frustrated, but he needs to take a deep breath and chill out; he needs to say to the team, 'We need to work together to sort things out'. Lewis must sit down with them and say, 'We are in this together – I don't want to divorce you as McLaren runs through me like the writing in a big stick of Bognor Regis rock'.
“I am sure the talk about reducing his workload is part of the contract negotiations. That would give his new management the flexibility to work with companies outside of the team's normal stable – but Lewis has been with McLaren since he was a kid, and I would be very surprised and disappointed if he was not able to negotiate a satisfactory agreement with them.”