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Clipping wall not a factor in Hamilton retirement - McLaren

ESPN Staff
September 24, 2012 « Singapore a turning point for RB8 performance - Horner | 'Mercedes offer him much greater freedom on the commercial side' »
Lewis Hamilton retired on lap 23 with a gearbox problem © Sutton Images
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McLaren does not believe Lewis Hamilton's brush with the wall in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix resulted in his gearbox failure on race day.

Bruno Senna had to change his gearbox after hitting with the wall in qualifying, but Hamilton's contact was much lighter and he said he had not felt the impact in the cockpit. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh all but ruled out the incident as the cause for Hamilton's gearbox failure on Sunday, which forced the McLaren driver to retire from the race and has dropped him 52 points off Fernando Alonso in the title race.

"If you look at Senna and a few others, they bounced off quite heavily," Whitmarsh said. "This [Sunday] morning I was talking to the guys and the wheel had two or three centimetres of scuff mark on it, but it wasn't damaged and rims are very thin and quite brittle, as you probably know. In fact, the engineers performed NDT all over the suspension and, interestingly enough, they hadn't even looked at the track and camber, and in fact they did in the end because I asked them to. They were absolutely content that it was a very light brush and not one that would create any damage. I don't think today had anything to do with yesterday. It was totally unexpected."

Whitmarsh said McLaren first detected the gearbox problem a few laps before Hamilton's retirement.

"We saw temperature rise and pressures increase as well as a few other phenomena. So painfully we could see it coming for a few laps."

Despite the setback in Hamilton's title chase, Whitmarsh believes his driver is still in the right frame of mind to continue to fight for the championship.

"I've got to say Lewis has been incredibly strong. I've spoken to Lewis first hand and I've got to say he's in a very focused frame of mind and came round and thanked everyone in the team for their efforts this weekend. It's a much stronger-minded Lewis than we've seen before. He's very focused and knows there are 150 points available that we are going to work hard to collect as many as we can."