McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has dismissed talk that Sebastian Vettel is starting to crack after a below-par showing in his home round of the F1 season in Germany.
Having qualified on the front row and finished inside the top two at every race, Vettel was strangely subdued during the Nurburgring weekend, qualifying third on the grid and then finishing more than 40 seconds off the pace in fourth.
That result ended a run of podium finishes that had gone back to Brazil last year but Whitmarsh – who saw his driver Lewis Hamilton win at the Nurburgring – said he didn't think Vettel's home performance was a sign he was cracking under the pressure of leading the championship, albeit by a comfortable margin.
"He wasn't under that much pressure,” told the Press Association
. “He was out of the race [in terms of victory], in my opinion, when he made his mistakes. People may characterise it as cracking under pressure, but in fairness I don't think that was the case. They were simply mistakes. Drivers make them, so do teams, all human beings.
"I'd like to have seen some of those mistakes when he was leading a race, but it can also swing the other way. He has done a pretty good job so far this year, so I don't think he is cracking."
While stating that Vettel wasn't cracking, Whitmarsh added that it was vital that McLaren did all it could to keep the pressure on the German.
"We can't bring about his failure, all we can do is put pressure on him,” he said. "At the start of the year Sebastian was supreme in his confidence, not making any mistakes whatsoever.
"We just have to concentrate on our own act, improve our performance, reliability, everything we do. If that turns out to be good enough to win races then that will be great."