Oct.22 (GMM) Martin Whitmarsh has moved to downplay fears that Lewis Hamilton's championship bid next weekend could be scuppered at the final hurdle by reliability concerns.
Hamilton's McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen retired from the recent Japanese grand prix with a Mercedes engine failure, and the Finn's race in China ended early with what was described as a problem with the 'pneumatic system'."Of course, we are keenly aware that the world championship could be won or lost by a mechanical failure," team chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said.23-year-old Hamilton, who must finish just fifth in Brazil next Sunday to be crowned world champion, will contest Interlagos with a race-old engine, and the same gearbox he raced both in Japan and last Sunday's Chinese GP.Additionally, Hamilton's unused engine 'joker' for 2008 cannot be used in Brazil, as it is the final race of the season, so an engine problem prior to the race will result in a ten-position grid penalty."We don't foresee this being an issue," Whitmarsh insisted, also denying that Hamilton's two-race-old gearbox is a concern."The level of reliability inherent in the gearbox means we anticipate fewer problems in this area," he said.