Whitmarsh hails Hamilton resolve
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is backing Lewis Hamilton to bounce back from his Singapore Grand Prix disappointment.
Hamilton looked on course for his second win on the bounce as he led from pole under the lights of the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Sunday, only to see a gearbox failure end his hopes and leave him 52 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso.
Yesterday's failure may stoke up the ongoing speculation linking Hamilton with a move to Mercedes at the end of the season, although it is understood from a source inside McLaren that talks over a new contract are "85-90%" resolved.
Certainly Hamilton appeared calm following his retirement from what he called "an easy race", the Briton steering clear of criticising his team and instead speaking of his intention to never give up.
Whitmarsh praised Hamilton's attitude as well as his recent impressive form, and indicated his belief that both parties benefit hugely from their relationship, which stretches back 14 years.
"We're a good team together," said Whitmarsh. "We don't always get it right, but he's been doing a great job for the team at the moment.
"What happened yesterday was painful, but he is dealing with it as a world champion. He is showing great character.
"He has been very strong about it, and that makes him a very strong asset in this team.
"We've a stronger, more resolute Lewis than we've seen for a while, and he will bounce back and be strong again in Japan."
Much of the focus will remain on Hamilton's future until his contract situation is resolved, although Whitmarsh refused to speculate whether a deal could be done before the next race in Japan in a fortnight.
"I'm not going to make any predictions," he said.
"Right now we need to regroup, we've six races to go and we have to win those six races.
"The situation is a lot tougher now, but we're not giving up, and certainly Lewis is not giving up because it's still doable.
"A lot of things can still happen in this championship and, as I've said all along, it's going to be determined in Brazil (the final race) I believe.
"There are six races, Lewis can score 150 points, so they (Ferrari and Alonso) have to score 100.
"It is still quite a lot of points, so there's a long way to go yet."
Hamilton's failure to finish yesterday came hot on the heels of team-mate Jenson Button's retirement with a fuel pick up problem while running second at the Italian Grand Prix.
The double failure has left McLaren 38 points behind Red Bull in the constructors' championship, and Button believes it is a situation his team must get on top of if they are to claw back that gap.
"It is affecting us in the constructors'," said Button, who finished second to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel in Singapore yesterday.
"It is such a shame because the team in every other area are doing such a good job.
"But two failures in two races is not what McLaren are about, so we have to solve these issues and move forward.
"The pace of the car is there, so that's why it is tough as well. We know we are throwing away a lot of points - 43 in the last two races - so yes, it is pretty tough."
Button is now 75 points adrift in the title race but like Hamilton he is not throwing in the towel just yet.
"Neither of us are in a very good position, but it doesn't matter how far you are behind, if it's still possible, it's still possible, and I'll give it everything," said Button.
"You don't see tennis players who are two sets down saying 'game over, I'm not going to win any more'.
"So we'll give it everything to the end, and we love racing as well, we fight every race we go into, and that's what we're going to do for the rest of the year."