Whitmarsh on ”difficult” drivers and their contracts

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    Keith Collantine

    Here’s a fascinating article on drivers’ contracts from MotorSport – and a revealing quote from Martin Whitmarsh on how “difficult” drivers end up with longer contracts:

    if I were signing Heikki Kovalainen it would be 50 pages; if it were Jenson Button it would be 52, if it were Nigel Mansell it would be 57, if it were Lewis Hamilton it would be about 60…

    Read it here: http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/2012/08/29/formula-1-contracts-then-and-now/

    It reminded me of this story in Mansell’s autobiography about him discussing a contract extension with Colin Chapman:

    I remember that when the contract was put in front of me I wouldn’t sign it. Colin was flabbergasted. “What’s wrong with you?” he said. “I’m making you a millionaire!” […]

    The way the contract read it was very commercial and described me like a commodity. I wanted it to be made more human, to reflect the fast that I am a human being, not a piece of property. When I’d finished explaining he said, “You’re a funny bugger, aren’t you? If I change a few tiny things you’ll be happy, is that it?” I nodded.

    Obviously Hamilton’s contract negotiations with McLaren are ongoing and we already know his right to keep the trophies he wins is a sticking point. I wonder what else he’s after?


    I think that as much as teams would like to think of their drivers as being ‘plug and play’ (you stick them in the car and they drive to the best of their ability) the fact is they are human beings and so are subject to all the variables that come with humans being diverse and different people.

    Lewis Hamilton is a perfect example. Despite the fact that, in an ideal world, Hamilton’s personal life should have no effect at all on his performance in the car, his relationship troubles with Nicole Scherzerrrezzzezeerzeerszezeerzezzeerzzrrezinger in 2011 almost definitely contributed to him having his weakest season performance wise since he debuted in Formula One. Likewise with Felipe Massa, who is very much a confidence driver and had a very poor spell that could be traced back to Hockenheim 2010, when he was made to move over and give up the victory.

    As much as McLaren want to be the ultimate professional and slick operation (although they have been trying to change their ‘robotic’ image recently), it’s far better to realise that you have to treat your drivers as individuals and nurture them into being at their best mentally, instead of treating them simply as tools for a job.


    I remember reading a while ago that Hamilton was after a Mclaren F1 which he would get if he won three drivers titles. I wonder if thats in there somewhere.


    …and Ayrton Senna’s would have been around 65, maybe? I remember reading about his marathon intensive contract negotiations with Ron Dennis, neither of them willing to give an inch!


    Everything would be OK if Mclaren gives Mclaren F1 LM to Hamilton immediately instead of trophies. of course that might be out of option :)


    @Magnificent Geoffrey, how do you know for certain that Nicole Sherzinger was the cause of LH’s problems last year? Did he personally tell you this?


    How come Senna’s contract was not mentioned.
    Seems like Whitmarsh is under pressure with LH’s contract negotiations.


    @sinnr that’s not what he said, he said it almost definitely contributed to it. Which considering Lewis himself has said ‘personal troubles’ distracted him last year, AND they broke up and got back together, kind of confirms that.

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