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Drivers' Twitter exchange won't boil over - McLaren

ESPN Staff
October 11, 2012 « Alonso and Vettel not ruling out Hamilton | Car problem to blame for Hamilton's poor race in Japan »
Lewis Hamilton apologised for tweets accusing Jenson Button of a lacking respect © Sutton Images
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McLaren insists the relationship between its two drivers is not about to boil over and affect its assault on the championship this season.

Cracks emerged between the team-mates earlier this week when Lewis Hamilton accused Jenson Button of a lack of respect after mistakenly thinking his team-mate had unfollowed him on Twitter. When he realised Button had never followed him he apologised on Twitter before talking to his opposite number when they both arrived in Korea.

"I was just saying that I put my hands up and made a mistake," Hamilton explained. "Sometimes we do that and we say things in the heat of the moment and don't mean what we say. There's nothing we can do about that and I apologised and that's it and we moved forward."

He added: "I apologised to him. I couldn't get hold of him on the phone because he'd had a late night out on Sunday night and then he replied to me and I saw him here today."

Managing director Jonathan Neale does not believe the exchange will have a disruptive effect on the team.

"Does it concern us in terms of the relationship in the team going forward and our assault on the championship? No it doesn't," he told the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "Lewis has already spoken to Jenson out in Mokpo in Korea so we don't have any concerns about that. As for Twitter itself, it's obviously an important part of the marketing and news space but it has its issues. It's just one of those things where you shrug the shoulders and say that's a bit unfortunate. Lewis corrected to the error and has spoken to Jenson, so from inside the team we're fine going forward and looking forward to this weekend."

Asked if the relationship between the drivers is not as strong as it once was, Neale added: "I certainly don't think it's getting in the way. Obviously Lewis has made a decision to go to another team so, like in any relationship, we respect that.

"There will be another chapter in both the McLaren story and the Lewis Hamilton story and it won't be the first or the last time a driver has moved on. But we're really focused on delivering a good car and I think it's very close at the top with five races to go and anything can happen. Despite whatever is going on around us in regulations and media and everything else, we are a focused race team and that's what we're focusing on between now and the end of the year."

The tweets earlier this week were Hamilton's second gaffe on the social networking website this season after he posted a picture of the team's telemetry during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. He said he would try to reconsider the way he uses Twitter.

"It's been pretty bad," he joked with journalists. "Perhaps me and Twitter don't go together too well so I don't know what I'm going to do. I like it because I like to be able to share the great experiences I have with the fans, but there's a fine line and lots of people get it wrong and I'm one of those so I'll hopefully try to improve on that."

Button said the whole issue had been blown out of proportion and explained why he chose to follow his team-mate for next year Sergio Perez and not Hamilton.

"There are millions of people to follow on Twitter," he said. "I see him [Hamilton] every weekend. I follow him [Perez] because I purposely wanted to say welcome. That's the only reason why I followed him. And now I can't unfollow him. I'm not allowed to do anything on Twitter these days. For me it's just amazing that we're sat here talking about this, here at a grand prix."