Whitmarsh adamant his job is safe

Date published: July 11 2011

Martin Whitmarsh concedes the British GP was “not one of the best” after both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were let down by the team…

Martin Whitmarsh concedes the British GP was “not one of the best” after both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were let down by the team.

McLaren’s home grand prix at Silverstone was blighted by pit-stop bungles, strategic errors and miscalculated fuel loads, which eventually resulted in Hamilton finishing in fourth place and Button failing to finish at all.

“It was not one of the best grands prix I have ever had,” Whitmarsh told The Guardian. “We don’t want to let the fans down and we did.”

Hamilton, who was hit by a strategy mistake during qualifying that left him 10th on the grid, had raced to third place before he was told by his team that he did not have enough fuel to finish.

The 2008 Champ was forced to slow down, basically let Mark Webber through, and only on the final lap was he given the go-ahead to fight for his fourth place against Felipe Massa.

“In fairness to the engineer, we had not had much running on Friday and it was hard to judge how much fuel would be needed,” Whitmarsh said.

“For a racing driver it is hard to save fuel. It’s counter-intuitive. It also becomes harder to drive – the tyres and brakes cool down.”

As for Button, he was released from his third pit stop without a wheel nut securing his right front wheel and was forced to pull off at the pit lane exit and retire.

Whitmarsh defended his team and explained that it was basically a communication error between the mechanic and the lollipop man.

“We have consistently had extremely fast pit stops this season,” he said.

“One wheel gun did not work and the nut flew over him. He went to pick up another wheel gun, as per the procedure, but he raised his hand off the wheel as he turned to pick it up and the lollipop man took that as a signal to release.”

The British GP, though, was just another in an all too long line of dismal Sunday’s for McLaren this season. The team has claimed just two wins in nine races and trail Red Bull by a massive margin of 110 points in the Constructors’ Championship.

The team’s disappointing campaign was raised some concerns as well as questions as to whether Whitmarsh, who took over from Ron Dennis in 2009. is the right man to lead McLaren.

He says he is.

“I am confident that I will stay in my job. I answer to the board – not just Ron – and they seem happy with the job I am doing – certainly for now.

“I have been here for 23 years and worked with Ron for 23 years. Some people thought I was a clone of Ron. I am not. We have an interesting relationship. We have ups and downs but I think our relationship is strong at the moment.”