• Hamilton denies needing special help from McLaren to win title
• Button does not feel his chances will suffer because of rivalry
Lewis Hamilton says he requires no special help from his McLaren team in order to win his second Formula One world title.
While Ferrari are in the dock next week for asking their driver Felipe Massa to move over for Fernando Alonso, and Red Bull’s Mark Webber is mischievously suggesting his team should be looking to “prioritise” after yet another failure by Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton says he is happy for Jenson Button to retain joint top billing at the Woking factory.
“I’ve just got to continue doing my job,” he said, after his third victory of the season had taken him back to the top of the drivers’ table, 35 points ahead of a fading Button, the world champion who has not won a race since the first week in April and whose last podium position was in June.
“As long as my guys do their job, which they always do, then I don’t need anything else. If they’re giving you all they can, they’re giving you all then can. I don’t think, by taking the focus off the guy next to me, they can help me.
“I think if they’re giving me 100% and they’re giving Jenson 100% then we’re going improve twice as fast as a team. So as long as they’re giving us both 100% there’s no problem. It works for us now so why not continue that?”
McLaren have always insisted that neither of their world champions will receive preferential treatment. Button certainly feels that is the way to go. “I don’t fear either of us will miss out on the title by approaching it the way we are,” he said. “But if we do, we do – we are here to go racing.”
Button had targeted this race and the next one, in Monza on Sunday week, as his best chance to get his campaign back on track. But after getting a flyer and moving up from fifth to second he collided with the reckless Vettel – who has converted only two of his seven pole positions to victories – and had to retire from the race.
Hamilton’s race was excellent. It was straightforward enough – he led from virtually the start until the chequered flag. However, he also showed the race management skills which many had identified as a weakness in the 2008 champion. There was rain and there were safety cars but he showed the smoothness and control that is more readily associated with his team-mate. And the only help came from … the Lord.
The biggest danger to his 15th grand prix win came with 10 laps to go, when it rained yet again on a weekend in Belgium which was so wet if felt like an uncut edition of Blade Runner. Hamilton ran wide and on to the gravel at Rivage and was inches away from hitting a wall. “That was the biggest moment for me. I made it all the way out to the wall and just clipped it a little with the edge of my wing. The gravel actually pulled me out. The gravel was horrible. I was very fortunate to get away with that. I was blessed. The Lord definitely had his hand over me there.”
With six races to go it looks as though the championship will be won by either Hamilton or Webber, who made up for an awful start by producing another solid drive. “Mark’s got the experience. And it’s showing. He’s 34. He’s a very experienced and very mature man. A 24-year-old or a 23-year-old is not as wise as a man of 34. He’s been here a lot longer than myself and Sebastian, though Sebastian has got some serious pace.”
According to Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal, the team have got their momentum back. “Lewis did a fantastic job. “He commanded the race and built up a buffer. He had one moment which gave us a bit of a worry, but he did a fantastic job.
“It was a bit of a strange mistake [by Vettel]. I realise it wasn’t intentional but if he was going for the inside he had about three inches to sneak down so God knows what he thought he was doing. But we’ve got our momentum back.”
Vettel, meanwhile, is adamant he can still win the title despite failing to finish for the third time this term. “I’m holding my head up,” he said. “There are still six races to come and we have all seen how quickly things can change. Everything is still possible. I can still make it happen.”