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Whitmarsh lauds 'heroic' Hamilton

ESPN Staff
October 15, 2012 « Red Bull not thinking about titles - Horner | Hamilton wrong to leave McLaren - Button »
Lewis Hamilton held on for a point despite having Astroturf stuck to his car in the closing laps © Press Association

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has described Lewis Hamilton's drive in Korea as "heroic" as he salvaged a point despite a rear anti-roll bar failure.

Having been running relatively competitively in fourth place, Hamilton suffered the failure on lap 18 and his lap times immediately dropped off. However, Hamilton was able to complete a three-stop race and remain in the top ten to the end of the race despite getting Astroturf lodged along the right hand side of his car which slowed him further in the closing laps.

Whitmarsh said he would never have imagined Hamilton could score points when the failure first occurred, and praised his temperament and mentality when holding off Kimi Raikkonen for fifth place for a number of laps.

"You don't get much more heroic a drive for one point," Whitmarsh said. "On lap 18 with the rear roll-bar failure I really didn't think that one; he'd get to the end of the race without consuming all of the tyres we had because you're just eating the tyres, and two; to then contemplate points, if it were not for the Astroturf he should have got up to eighth place which was absolutely incredible.

"If you had told me that on lap 18, lap 19 I would have said that was amazing, but we and he - particularly he - fought on. His fighting with Kimi - it's difficult for me to detach myself - but what a show he put on just fighting with everyone. And good, clean stuff. No desperate stuff. Kimi's always a great racer, he's a tough race but you could see two people who respected each other and Kimi knew that he was fighting a wounded car and so did Lewis. It's very easy when someone like that just gets by you to say 'OK I know I'm hurting my tyres even more', but he just fought on."

Whitmarsh went as far to say the drive would prove an "inspiration" for him in future after such a difficult weekend.

"Suddenly, to be at the end saying 'actually you're catching these two Toro Rossos' - at one point he was the fastest car out there - and I have some notion of how badly balanced the car was and how quickly it was damaging the tyres. So to do that job was absolutely incredible, so I don't remember one world championship point being fought for so valiantly and so grittily as that. It was an absolutely heroic drive and that's the inspiration I'll take away from Korea; I'll try to forget lots of it but the way in which he fought for that was fantastic."