McLaren won't make Hamilton change
McLaren will not ask Lewis Hamilton to change his high-risk approach, according to principal race engineer Phil Prew.
Hamilton's last four retirements have been the result of accidents, leading Niki Lauda to say that he needs to learn from team-mate Jenson Button and rein in his driving. Speaking during a Vodaphone McLaren Mercedes phone-in, Prew said that the accidents were as a result of pushing to be closer to Red Bull, and that it was an approach that had proved successful when winning his world title in 2008.
"Lewis has had an up and down season," Prew said. "Lewis is a great driver who has won races this year and has won races every year that he's driven for McLaren and he's always pushing very hard. Obviously he came in to the season with great hopes of winning the championship and that's going to be an upward struggle from here - very difficult to achieve now - and I think his pushing hard brings some consequences of high risk. I think that's what we're seeing.
"We will not ask him to change; Lewis is Lewis and Lewis gets results out of a very charging and aggressive approach and we fully support that. We've seen that has won him championships and that's ultimately our intention. I think it should also be noted that Lewis is a very clever guy, he's a very good racing driver and he will reflect on the difficulties he's had this year and to come back stronger he knows what it takes to win championships and that's our intention still."
Despite Hamilton and McLaren having to play catch-up since the start of the season, Prew said there was no temptation to shift full focus to the 2012 car in order to be more competitive at the beginning of next year because so much would be transferable between the current MP4-26 and the new car.
"There's always a balance to be found between the two cars, but I think as we approach the tail end of this season then emphasis will obviously move towards the 27, but there's still much learning we can have with the 26 with the developments on that car that will translate. So the development plans we have at the moment are looking at components which will give lap time benefit both this year and also carry over to next year; front wings, rear wings for example, they're all directly transferable with the minimal changes in the technical regulations. So we can combine the two and hopefully find benefits for both seasons."