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McLaren still a good option for Hamilton's future - Neale

ESPNF1 Staff
June 7, 2012 « Villeneuve slams 'babies' playing 'video games' | Paul Pietsch dies aged 100 »
Lewis Hamilton's McLaren contract will expire at the end of this year © Sutton Images
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McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale does not believe his team's recent operational errors will influence Lewis Hamilton's decisions about his future.

Hamilton's current McLaren contract is due to expire at the end of the year, and with possible openings at Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes he is potentially at a crossroads in his career.

Speculation he might leave McLaren has been fuelled by a series of disappointing results at recent races, starting in Bahrain where two botched pit stops dropped him down the order to eighth and building in Spain where he was stripped of his pole position and sent to the back of the grid after his team failed to fuel him sufficiently. But Neale does not believe a few disappointing results will taint Hamilton's choices about his future.

"I wouldn't put the last two or three races into a professional's mind like Lewis's in terms of the long-term ability of where he's going to be comfortable in the future," Neale told the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "We've said quite clearly that we'd like Lewis to continue racing for us and Lewis has said he'd like to continue racing for us. We've got plenty of time and we don't need to make that decision until much later this year and actually you have to look at the performance of the team in the long term relative to other teams and I think we stand fairly well placed. But I'm not going to walk away from the fact that we do have to continue to work hard to eliminate the mistakes and find the upgrades in performance.

"Six races, six different winners - nobody is consistent at the moment. We sit second in the constructors' championship and our intent is to make both drivers feel comfortable in the car so that they consistently score high levels of points. We haven't done that in the last few races, but I'm confident that we can do that in the races coming up."

McLaren heads to this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix without a podium at the last three races and with Jenson Button failing to make the top-ten shootout in qualifying at his last two attempts. Nevertheless, Neale is confident McLaren still has a car capable of winning and is confident his drivers will be back on form this weekend.

"I think both drivers have got a car underneath them that can win this race if we can get the tyres consistently in the sweetspot," he added. "We've seen Jenson be very quick on Fridays in the car, so he's still doing a great job for us. We, together with the engineers, need to find that consistency and translate that from Friday into Saturday results. We're not that far away and I'm confident that he can. I wouldn't read too much into Monaco as it's a rather unique event and I'm sure that Jenson will be on strong form this weekend."