McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale has insisted that the team is 100 per cent behind Lewis Hamilton after his recent problems and admitted that the team hasn't given the 2008 title winner a car to allow him to challenge for honours this season.
While team-mate Jenson Button has produced a series of impressive performances in recent races – taking five top three finishes on the bounce – Hamilton has failed to make it onto the podium since taking victory in Germany, and has found himself embroiled in a series of incidents on track.
The Briton admitted in Japan that he wasn't sure what was to blame for his recent lack of results but Neale admitted that the team was 100 per cent behind its driver and was keen to 'take care of him' through one of the toughest stages of his career to date.
“Lewis is his own biggest critic,” Neale said during the latest Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "He desperately wants to win and he's understandably not happy when either his team mate beats him or someone else is winning the race or the championship. So after seeing the title slide away this year to Red Bull, he's tough on himself and very disappointed. And we would be disappointed if he didn't feel that way.
“Lewis is a phenomenal driver. He's had 16 race wins, is constantly exciting on the circuit and is always in the action. And we love him for that. So certainly I'm concerned to make sure that he feels and understands that we are 100 percent behind him. It's been a difficult season for him. We haven't given him the car to get the job done, but what he's done with it has been fantastic.”
Neale added that, having failed to give Hamilton a car to fight for the title this season, the same mistakes wouldn't be made for 2012.
“We're very confident he'll be firing on all cylinders in the car next year,” he said. “We need to give him a car to get the job done and that's our responsibility to do that. Every racing driver wants to be in a team that can win - and we can here at McLaren.
“We are disappointed in ourselves not to win the world championship this year, but we've put up a good fight from the start and on a number of occasions we've had the quickest race car - as we saw in Japan. So Red Bull are vulnerable and beatable - it's just the rest of us have to work harder.”