Hamilton exit a mistake, argues Whitmarsh
28 September 2012 – McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh believes that Lewis Hamilton has made a mistake by signing with Mercedes, arguing that his team is the best place to fight for race victories and ultimately world titles. It was announced on Friday that Mexico's Sergio Pérez will replace the 27-year-old in 2013, partnering Jenson Button.
"For anyone leaving McLaren, and (Hamilton) wants to win, I think that's a mistake because I have faith and belief in this team," Whitmarsh explained. "Whether you measure it over the last four races, four years or 40 years, we're a fantastic team."
"So I would say to any driver who wanted to win in this sport 'come and join McLaren and aspire to join McLaren'. I wouldn't advise anyone to leave McLaren if they want to win, but I've got to respect Lewis's decision and really wish him well.
"I know we made a very big financial offer, bigger than I believe any Formula 1 driver is enjoying today, other than himself. We were working towards him staying, but we realistically knew there was always a chance he wouldn't."
Whitmarsh also talked about the first time that he was informed of Hamilton's decision, with the latter calling him in person from his current training trip in Asia.
"He rang me two days ago, from Asia, and I believe I was the first person he told. We had a long conversation, a warm conversation," Whitmarsh added. "He rang me again yesterday and we had another long conversation. In the end, for all parties, you need to make a decision and move on. So we had to look at other options."