Sunday 18 March 2018

F1: Under-pressure McLaren boss counts cost of Hamilton exit

Red Bull staff will receive a £10,000 bonus in the wake of the team's third consecutive championship double. But while they are counting their winnings, McLaren will be counting their losses.

Lewis Hamilton's retirement from the lead of the season finale in Brazil is estimated to have cost the Woking team around $12m, the difference between second and third place in the constructors' championship.

McLaren's limited title success this century – Hamilton's drivers' championship in 2008 remains the only title they have won – raises the pressure on team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who must cope next season without arguably the fastest driver in the sport.

Hamilton said he was looking forward to saying an emotional goodbye to the staff in Woking before going on "the biggest holiday I have had in a long, long time".

The 27-year-old added that he was hoping for a fresh start with Mercedes, with whom he has been granted permission to speak despite his McLaren contract not expiring until the end of the year.

"I won't be doing much technical work with Mercedes," Hamilton said. "But Martin says I am allowed to talk to people. I look forward to having, like, a third of the PR events that I have here. It will be a new car and a new experience and it is going to be interesting."

Whitmarsh said that Jenson Button's win in Sunday's race had given the team important momentum going into the winter.

"We are working hard on (the 2013) car," Whitmarsh said. "We've got good momentum, Jenson is fired up and I can sense him saying, 'right, now we've got the momentum lets go and win a world championship.'"

Breen voted WRC Rally Driver of Year

Craig Breen has been voted World Rally Driver of the Year by the WRC. The poll, which was carried out on, saw the Waterford driver gain 39pc of the vote with Norwegian driver Mads Ostberg second, securing 38pc of the vote. Sebastien Loeb, who clinched his ninth World Rally title in 2012 came third with 8pc of the vote.

Breen has had a turbulent season, having come in to 2012 as the WRC Academy champion. The 22-year-old began the year winning the opening round of the SWRC in Monte Carlo and he followed this up with a second-place finish in Sweden in the second round of the Super 2,000 category.

Tragedy struck in June, though, when a crash at the Targa Florio rally in Sicily saw Breen lose his co-driver and best friend, Welshman Gareth Roberts. Despite this, Breen got back behind the wheel weeks later and on Roberts' home event, Rally GB, Breen secured another SWRC win.

He backed this up with a win in France and, two weeks ago, a victory at the Rally de Espana to take the Super 2,000 World Rally Championship. This secured Breen's second world rally title in as many years.

Irish Independent

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