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Whitmarsh: Defeat would've hurt team

Martin Whitmarsh believes that missing out on the 2008 drivers' championship would have been a bigger blow to the McLaren team than to Lewis Hamilton.

The Briton only clinched last year's title at the final corner of the dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix, but McLaren F1 CEO Whitmarsh reckons Hamilton would have swiftly recovered his composure had he been defeated by Felipe Massa, whereas the team top brass would have found it very hard to swallow.

"If Lewis had not won the championship last year I think it would have been tougher for us as a team, rather than him," Whitmarsh told the Guardian.

"I think this building would have been a very dark place for many of us over the winter.

"Don't get me wrong. It would have been psychologically testing for Lewis if he hadn't won. He would've had that inevitable thought: 'Is this ever going to happen?'

"But he's at such an early stage of his career he would have recovered far more quickly than me or Ron (Dennis)."

Whitmarsh expects a different approach from Hamilton now that he has clinched his first championship, but has no concerns about his motivation waning.

"2009 is going to be such an intriguing year for all of us - and perhaps Lewis most of all," he said.

"He was a boy who, at the age of eight, started to dream of becoming world champion. He probably got out of bed every morning having dreamed that same dream.

"You shouldn't underestimate the change that happens when you achieve a dream at a very young age.

"There have been fascinating studies of world-class athletes who dream of winning an Olympic title or a world championship and when they succeed they suddenly realise it's not quite as fulfilling as they imagined. They ask themselves the question: 'Where do I go from here?' I think Lewis has already answered that question.

"Lewis will rightly tell you that the only current objective is to win again this year to show that he is a worthy champion. We'll see what happens after that.

"But I think he can do whatever he wants because the immense pressure he was under last year has been released. We should be in for quite a journey."

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