OCTOBER 13, 2006
Why it is better not to race Hamilton in Brazil
McLaren's press preview for the Braziilian Grand Prix gave confirmation that Pedro de la Rosa will be racing with the team for one more event, bringing to an end speculation that Lewis Hamilton would be taking over the drive. There was never much logic in pushing Hamilton into the car except that he would have learned the circuit. In the modern day and age, however, teams have highly-sophistocated simulation and so Hamilton can drive around a virtual Interlagos for hours on end, a process which makes dealing with the actual circuit a great deal easier. Keeping de la Rosa in the car gives him one final chance to prove his value. Hamilton's pace in testing has been such that it would be amazing if the team did not pick him for next season and it is significant that there are rumours that McLaren has been offering Gary Paffett to other F1 teams. With de la Rosa under contract to stay on as McLaren's tester next year, the stage in thus set for Hamilton.
But there is no hurry for a decision, indeed there is a lot to be gained from NOT announcing that Lewis will be Fernando Alonso's team mate next year. Hamilton will be able to get on with his winter testing without the glare of publicity that will come as soon as he is confirmed as a McLaren race driver. It is better that this occurs at a time when there is no racing going on, as it is likely to be fairly distracting even for a grounded individual such as Lewis. McLaren has nothing to lose with the speculation that is currently going on. It keeps the team in the news in a positive way and in part hides the fact that this has been a very poor season for the team. McLaren is fortunate in that other teams, notably Williams, have had a worse time of it.
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