Sep 7 2012
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has been given assurances as to Lewis Hamilton's intentions, but knows until a new contract is signed nothing is a done deal.
Speaking ahead of Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, Whitmarsh cannot escape the gossip dominating the Monza paddock.
"Media like that sort of speculation," said Whitmarsh. "I've been doing this job too long to be surprised by it. It's a fairly incestuous paddock so you tend to know - certainly if you have been around over 20 years - what's going on."
Hamilton has confirmed this week he is in "advanced negotiations" with McLaren, although there is a distinct possibility he may yet move to Mercedes.
Hamilton's management company, XIX Entertainment, are known to be in discussion with the German manufacturing giant, a global brand that would align with XIX owner Simon Fuller's aim of turning the 27-year-old into a world superstar like he did with David Beckham.
The dilemma for Hamilton is whether to join a Mercedes team who have won just once in 50 races since their return to Formula One at the start of 2010, in direct opposition to his own ambitions of being a multiple world champion.
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn is convinced, in conjunction with a major regulation change due in 2014, notably to engines, Mercedes' three-pointed silver star is rising, even though they have gone backwards of late this campaign.
In the opposite corner, his counterpart at McLaren in Whitmarsh is firmly led to believe Hamilton will be re-signing and extending a stay that began when the Briton was 13.
Whitmarsh continued: "Often stories that get circulated are blown out of proportion for entertainment reasons or whatever. The important thing is we don't spend any time, energy or concentration on stuff like that. We just concentrate on doing our job.
"Lewis and his management have assured me of their intentions, we're focused on working together at the moment. This weekend is important for Lewis. He needs to ensure he gets his championship hunt back on track, and that's what he wants as well. There's going to be all sorts of speculation, but we are really focused on making sure we do a good job here in Monza."