I won’t walk out on McLaren, Hamilton promises team boss

FORMER world champion Lewis Hamilton has attempted to silence speculation he could quit McLaren by pledging his future to the team.

The English driver made no secret of his unhappiness at being hindered last season by his car, and is being tipped to move on soon if this year’s is no better. But on the eve of the new campaign, which starts in Australia on Sunday, Hamilton revealed he had reassured team principal Martin Whitmarsh that he intends to see out a contract until the end of 2012. “I’ve spoken to Martin today because I wanted to reassure him that I am here at McLaren, that I am committed to the team, committed to winning,” said Hamilton.

“This is where my heart and mind are. I’m not thinking about going elsewhere, I don’t have my people going elsewhere and doing any other talking. I can imagine how I would feel if I heard stories that they were looking for another driver to replace me, it would be upsetting and distracting, and I kind of assume that may have been the case. So I wanted to make sure I put that right, and why I spoke with Martin.”

THE FAVOURITES
ODDS FROM PADDY POWER

Sebastian Vettel
The prodigiously talented German (above) is fancied to retain his maiden world title, with the 2011-spec Red Bull said to be every bit as good as last year’s competition-slaying model. The man to beat
Odds: 9/4

Fernando Alonso
Ferrari are desperate for a title and hopes are high that their new car will finally deliver. If it does then expect two-time champion and fierce competitor Alonso (below) to be a formidable contender
Odds: 23/10

Lewis Hamilton 
The former golden boy (above) has been upstaged by Vettel owing to problems with his McLaren. Early signs are that the car won’t improve enough, but the Briton is sure to fight tooth and nail
Odds: 13/2

Mark Webber 
Agonisingly close to beating team-mate Vettel to last year’s crown, so the no-nonsense Australian will be itching to improve on third place. However at 34 the veteran is quickly running out of time
Odds 15/2