Lewis Hamilton says informing Martin Whitmarsh that he was leaving McLaren in 2012 was “one of the hardest calls” he ever had to make.
In his early days Lewis Hamilton was a part of McLaren’s junior driver programme which he has always credited for helping him reach Formula 1. At the time the team was strongly tied to Mercedes, who even owned a stake in the outfit.
Hamilton’s run with McLaren was extremely successful, he nearly won the title in his debut year and became champion just a year later, in 2008.
In 2010 Mercedes decided to sell their stake in McLaren and create their own works team. In 2012, partially frustrated with McLaren’s drop in form, Hamilton decided to accept Mercedes’ offer and move to a, at the time, less successful team.
“Without their support, along with Mercedes, I wouldn’t have made it to Formula 1, being that it is so expensive so there was no way, as family, that we had the sorts of money that some other families are able to throw at this sport,” explained Hamilton ahead of the Eifel Grand Prix.
“So my loyalty was to them, but at the time, I had to think about what the future would hold and what I wanted to be a part of.
“I wanted to be a part of a team that perhaps hadn’t had as much success, was in the growing phase, and I wanted to be a part of that, that growing journey, building something relatively new.
“That was an exciting challenge and I didn’t know how long it was going to be until we got to winning ways. But I truly, truly believed that we would get there at some stage.”
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The Briton admits leaving McLaren wasn’t easy for him, but the hardest thing was informing Martin Whitmarsh, the team’s boss at the time, of his decision.
“Calling my boss, calling Martin in particular, was one of the hardest calls that I’ve ever had to make.
“I hope that he has forgiven me by now! I think so, because he understands, but ultimately I think it was the right decision.
“I knew it was the right decision for me personally and I think that is how life is generally: nobody can tell you what to do, only you will know personally what is right or wrong for yourself. You can’t have anyone else influence that decision.
“As long as you do your homework, you have got to do what is right for you, and at the time, that is what I did,” concluded Hamilton.
Seeing how Whitmarsh recently accepted Lewis’ offer to become one of the commissioners in the Hamilton Commission, it’s safe to say that the Briton doesn’t hold any grudges.