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McLaren tells Hamilton: There has to be give-and-take

20 July 2011

McLaren-Mercedes has responded to Lewis Hamilton's warning that his employer will be 'shocked' by some of his demands when it comes to negotiating a new deal beyond the end of next year – by stressing that 'there has to be give-and-take'.

On the eve of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone a week-and-a-half ago, Hamilton admitted that he feared he was in danger of burnout due to McLaren's relentless schedule of sponsorship commitments that was preventing him from taking a proper rest – and he bluntly asserted that 'when I re-sign the contract, they are going to be shocked at how many days they are not going to be able to make me do...I will be doing a lot less work' [see separate story – click here].

Speaking during a special pre-Nürburgring Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes Phone-In Session, however, the Woking-based outfit's managing director Jonathan Neale revealed that Hamilton has no more such duties than team-mate Jenson Button – who conversely has made no complaint – and that the 2008 F1 World Champion might do well to consider the situation from the team's point-of-view, too.

“We are a commercially-run team, with a fantastic group of partners,” the Englishman underlined. “Vodafone and Mercedes obviously have expectations, and our technical partners all do terrific work, as well. We have long partnerships because they work – Exxon Mobil have been with us since 1995, for example. That's all part of being a well-funded and successful team, and we are renowned for it.

“We do recognise that the drivers are human beings and that there's a finite capacity there, so we try to balance it out as best we can – but we don't have quite the same funding model as Red Bull Racing or Ferrari. There has to be some give-and-take. The same is true behind-the-scenes as on the circuit – we have two number one drivers, with two equal sets of obligations. Lewis and Jenson share that burden of responsibility equally.

“We have been able to use, very successfully, Pedro de la Rosa, Gary Paffett and occasionally also Oliver Turvey to lift the commercial burden, and we are putting more capacity in the system to match our partners' expectations. Yes, it's a balance, but when you have two world champions in the team and the partners that we have, everybody is going to be clamouring to see them. We've got to be mindful of that.”

One development that arguably would not lighten Hamilton's mood any would be a return to limited in-season testing – a topic that is currently being debated amongst F1's teams and powers-that-be, after test teams were banned back in 2009 under the terms of the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA).

Neale concedes that he is 'cautiously' in favour of the idea and that there are 'a number of benefits' to it in terms of being able to try out young drivers, mechanics and engineers – but he echoes Mercedes Grand Prix team principal Ross Brawn in opining that 'breaking-point' is being reached with regard to workload in the sport, reasoning: “If we get back into unbridled tyre-testing development and runaway costs, it will be counter-productive to all the work we've done so far.”


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