• McLaren launch new car at Woking base
• Sutil’s comments are given the brush-off
McLaren launched their new Formula One car before a global audience on Wednesday. And the global audience dutifully gawped in wonder, even though the new creation, the MP4-27, motionless and driverless and tilting sharply to the right, looked as if it had just come off the track at Suzuka’s notorious 130R turn.
McLaren’s more significant relaunch at their glitzy Technology Centre in Woking came in the shape of the sport’s most vivid driver, Lewis Hamilton, who looked a revitalised figure after the most difficult season of his career last year, when he was beset by problems on and off the track.
Hamilton, who was beaten by his team-mate, Jenson Button, for the first time in his McLaren career in a season marked by clashes with stewards and other drivers, has spent much of the winter among the mountains of Colorado.
“I feel fresh,” he said. “I had a really good winter. The team gave me a good bit of time off after such a long season, and obviously we went through a lot. I had friends and family there and was able to find out what they thought and how I could improve. I knew where things were wrong and it’s not easy to clarify them in the mind but I was able to do that. There are still things I’m working on.”
Hamilton, 27 last month, added: “There have been lots of highs and lows but last year was definitely one of he toughest years, personally. And also with the racing. I had a low moment when I lost the championship in 2007 but that was just one moment.
“A lot of it is in the mind. And if you’re clogged up with a lot of things and operating at only 60% there’s a loss of time. But I feel as though I’m back to 100% right now. Last year was one of those years where I had a lot of less energy and less focus where it needed to be. But now the focus is where it needs to be.”
Meanwhile, the 2008 champion has put as much clean air as possible between himself and his former close friend Adrian Sutil after the German driver described him as “a coward”. Sutil was upset by Hamilton’s decision not to testify at the former Force India driver’s two-day trial in Munich this week and hit out after being convicted for causing grievous bodily harm to Eric Lux, chief executive of the Lotus team owners, Genii Capital. After being given an 18-month suspended sentence and fined €200,000 (£167,000) Sutil said: “Lewis is a coward. I do not want to be friends with someone like that. He is for me no man. Even his father sent me a text message and wished me luck for the process. Lewis came with nothing. He has changed his phone number. I could not reach him any more.”
But Hamilton, who did offer a statement for use at the trial, refused to get involved when the issue was raised at Woking on Wednesday. Before Hamilton could answer a question relating to Sutil’s remarks a McLaren spokesman said: “We’ve been told Lewis shouldn’t really go there because it might go under appeal, so can we move on to the next question?”
Hamilton nodded in the direction of the spokesman and said: “I’ll listen to him.”