McLaren's focus on championship, not contracts
While the future of Lewis Hamilton remains the hot topic in the paddock, his McLaren team are focusing on winning two world titles and the Briton's resurgent form has left them optimistic of a double success.
Having won two out of the last three races, Hamilton has moved into second place in the drivers championship ahead of Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix where he triumphed three years ago.
With seven races remaining the Briton trails Ferrari's Fernando Alonso by 37 points but before talking about closing the gap on the Spaniard, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh was again fielding contract questions surrounding the 2008 world champion.
With media speculation linking Hamilton to a move to Mercedes next year, the questions came thick and fast for Whitmarsh after the driver finished the second practice session at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in fifth place after going second quickest in the opening outing.
"I know there are lots of other stories and speculation that swirl around but that's Formula One and we are content to get on with our job quietly," Whitmarsh told reporters on Friday.
"I think in the last three races we have got stronger and looked more focused. I think anyone who knows Lewis will have noticed at the last race and at this one that he is doing a good job.
"He realises this year we have a strong opportunity to win a world championship and I think we all realise the right thing to do is focus on the car, don't make mistakes and maximise the points we can get from each race."
With two weeks having gone since the last race in Monza, which Hamilton won for his 20th race victory, there has been plenty of column inches written about the 27-year-old's future.
Reuters was not allowed to ask Hamilton questions about his contract negotiations during an interview on Wednesday and Whitmarsh suggested talks had yet to get underway over a new deal when asked why nothing had already been agreed.
"It seems a long time because of the speculation but it doesn't when you sit down seriously and put your mind into entering into a new contract and work out your priorities," Whitmarsh explained.
"I am sure he would be looking for more money and we would be looking to pay him a lot less," he laughed.
While Hamilton aims for the drivers title, Whitmarsh is also eyeing the constructors crown.
Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button was second quickest in the later practice session on Friday as McLarenlooked to overhaul the 29-point deficit on Red Bull, for whom world champion Sebastian Vettel went fastest.
The wins by Hamilton in Italy and Hungary either side of Button's success in Belgium have left Whitmarsh optimistic.
"We are pleased the last three events have been very different circuits and we have been competitive at all of them. I think we are cautious here and hopefully can be competitive," he said.
"What we haven't done is piled on the points we should have done given the competitiveness of our car ... after 13 races we have been on the front row 11 times so we clearly have a strong package and should therefore be disappointed in the points we don't have rather than the ones we do have.
"But you don't look back, you look forward. We have the momentum and we are making the car quicker. We have two great drivers and are very much focused on trying to win races and not other things."