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DATE News (chronologically)
07/20/11
f1
Will Whitmarsh get the boot?  UPDATE (GMM)  McLaren on Wednesday played down speculation there might be a change of leadership at the very top of the famous British team.

After a difficult home grand prix at Silverstone, British media referred to a "crisis" at Woking based McLaren, triggering rumors Ron Dennis might return to the helm to replace current team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

But the team's managing director Jonathan Neale on Wednesday told reporters that Whitmarsh has done "a fantastic job", not only in charge of McLaren but also the teams' alliance FOTA.

Referring to the speculation, he said during a teleconference: "I'm afraid it's just part of the media circus and expectation, caught in the home grand prix if you've got to deliver and we didn't, you've got to expect a bit of comeback.

"But we want Martin, Lewis and Jenson here for the long term," added Neale.

07/11/11 The calamitous afternoon Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button suffered at Silverstone means the British duo may be driving for a new team principal by the time Formula One returns to action after the August break.

Martin Whitmarsh could have just one month to prove he remains the right man to lead McLaren after a series of errors cost both Hamilton and Button the chance of a podium finish at the British Grand Prix.

Button suffered most as a bungled pit-stop saw the 2009 world champion speed away from the McLaren garage without his right front wheel attached, forcing him to retire at the end of lap 40.

And the decision to send Hamilton into battle at Silverstone with one kilo less fuel than his team-mate resulted in him handing third place to Mark Webber after being told to slow down to conserve petrol.

It is inconceivable that Whitmarsh was not involved in that decision and while he was not holding the wheel-gun or manning the lollipop when Button was released from the pits, ultimately it his responsibility to ensure a team with the resources of McLaren are the best drilled in the business.

Sportsmail understands there is growing discontent among engineering and design staff at McLaren about Whitmarsh’s leadership with questions about the team’s focus and direction being raised.

And as the mistakes continue to pile up, such shaky management will do little to help convince Hamilton that his title aspirations are best served by staying with McLaren.

The 26-year-old is also voicing concerns about the amount of promotional work he is forced to do for his team’s sponsors — he was due to fly in and out of India for a Vodafone event on Wednesday, only swerving the commitment after it was cancelled.

As for Button, Whitmarsh’s star signing may be ruing the deal which means he is contractually obliged to remain with his employers should they decide to trigger the one-year extension in his contract.

All-conquering Red Bull have also made mistakes — Vettel’s tardy pit-stop on Sunday
handed Fernando Alonso a lead he would not relinquish, while in China the decision to run the German on a two-stop strategy helped Hamilton reel in the world champion.

But of the frontrunners, McLaren are making more than their fair share of errors, prompting concerns as to whether the Woking-based team made the right choice in selecting Whitmarsh to replace Ron Dennis at the helm.

Unfortunately for Whitmarsh, McLaren have failed to design and build a car that has been competitive from the start of a season since he became team principal in 2009.

Indeed, McLaren have not won the constructors’ championship since 1998, when Adrian Newey — now at Red Bull — was heading up the design team.

But unless Whitmarsh, in the short-term, irons out the mistakes and delivers respectable results at the grands prix in Germany and Hungary, then the search could be on for McLaren’s fifth team principal since they first turned a wheel in Formula One 45 years ago. Mail Online

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