Martin Whitmarsh has defended McLaren's decision to bring Lewis Hamilton in for a second pit stop during Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, despite Hamilton's claims that it cost him second place.
Hamilton was running third behind Renault's Robert Kubica when the team brought him in for a second set of softer tires, while Kubica and the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso all stayed out on their first set of slicks. Although Hamilton caught up to the trio, he was unable to pass any of them and eventually finished sixth after being hit by Mark Webber while challenging Alonso.
The Briton was critical of his team's decision after the race and although Whitmarsh agreed that the team could have had a one-two, he is adamant that it made the correct decision at the time.
"Lewis was losing time behind [Robert] Kubica, you could see he had graining of his left-rear tire and you could see that Michael [Schumacher] had stopped and was going purple, Webber had stopped and was going purple and more than one second per lap quicker," said Whitmarsh.
"With the information we had at the time, given where Lewis was, we felt that it was the right call. I think in retrospect and hindsight, if we look at how the race played out – if Lewis could have made those tires last, then he could have finished at least second today and we would have a 1-2.
"Inimitably in McLaren style, you look at a win and say, 'Damn, it could have been a 1-2.' It was disappointing because it was a fantastic drive by Lewis. We as a team made that decision, I have to be accountable for that and I am disappointed with the outcome, but I am not disappointed by the process because I thought it was the right decision at the time."
Whitmarsh also played down Hamilton's outburst on the radio during the race, in which he'd said: "Whose call was it to bring me in? Fricking terrible idea!"
"Lewis passionately expressed himself on the radio," said Whitmarsh. "I think that is how Lewis is – he is passionate, he likes to win. He likes to do everything well, he is hard on himself and he is hard on the team – that is how Lewis Hamilton is. That is how he ticks and that is how he functions."