McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has said that he remains unconcerned about speculation surrounding Lewis Hamilton's future with the Woking team, but insists that he will not employ anyone he feels is not giving their all.
Hamilton headed to Monza for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix at the centre of renewed rumours that he was poised to jump ship and head to Mercedes for 2013 [see separate story
], negotiations to extend his McLaren contract having dragged on over the summer break. There are also lingering suggestions linking Hamilton with Ferrari, although team-mate Jenson Button remains confident that his fellow Briton is going nowhere next season [see separate story
Having watched his drivers take the top two positions on the timesheets following free practice at the Italian Grand Prix, Whitmarsh insisted that the whispers were not going to deflect McLaren's attention away from reeling in Fernando Alonso's championship lead, a task already underway following back-to-back wins for Hamilton and Button in Hungary and Belgium either side of F1's summer break.
"The media like that sort of speculation, but Lewis and his management have assured me of their intentions and we're focused on working together at the moment," he told journalists, "There's going to be all sorts of speculation, but we are really focused on making sure we do a good job here in Monza. This weekend is important for Lewis. He needs to ensure that he gets his championship hunt back on track, and I think that's what he wants as well."
Hamilton dropped to fifth place in the overall standings, one ahead of Button, after being caught up in the first corner shunt that also accounted for Alonso, and heads into the Italian Grand Prix - the last European round of 2012 - 47 points behind the Spaniard. With that much ground to make up, Whitmarsh is keen not to affect Hamilton's concentration by dragging him into talks over his future.
"I have plenty of personal contact with the driver, but he always gives me plenty of other things to talk to him about," he smiled, reflecting on the ill-judged Twitter
comments posted by Hamilton over the Spa weekend, "I don't think it's right for him to get involved in negotiations, that's why we have managers. The important thing is we don't spend any time, energy, concentration on stuff like that. We just concentrate on doing our job. Ultimately, a driver has to drive where he is happy to drive, so the team and I don't want anyone who is not 100 per cent committed to it. You can't work like that. I've made that clear from the outset."
While Hamilton made no effort to deny that he may be in talks with Mercedes when cornered by the media at Monza, he also insisted that his sights were solely on the job of trying to win another championship.
"I've no idea, I've not really thought about it," he said of his future, "I drive for McLaren, we've won the last two grands prix, we've another big race coming up and that's what I need to focus on."