Formula One: Dennis tells Hamilton to stay with McLaren

Former team chief Ron Dennis on Sunday claimed that Lewis Hamilton's triumph in the Italian Grand Prix had strengthened McLaren's position in trying to re-sign him.

The McLaren Group chairman said that Hamilton's dominant 20th career win with McLaren proved the team's strength in depth.

Dennis told Sky Sports television that Hamilton's performance endorsed the team's view that they can be a powerful winning combination in the future.

He said: "If Lewis is absolutely committed to winning, then he can win in a McLaren."

Hamilton is believed to be considering an offer to leave McLaren and join Mercedes next season, but pushed it aside to concentrate on his job with McLaren.

Asked about their negotiations, Dennis explained: "First of all our shareholders have a position, then the board has a position and then Martin [Whitmarsh] has to handle what that position is.

"It would be totally inappropriate for me to say anything that would undermine Martin's position. It's his job to get to where we want to get to -- and I'm sure he'll have a better position now having demonstrated yet again that we've got a very strong car.

In response to a quip from 1996 drivers world champion Briton Damon Hill regarding the destination of the winner's trophy, following previous comments from Hamilton suggesting that keeping his silverware was "a push point in their talks, Dennis played down the claims.

He said: "I think a lot's made about that, but it's never really been an issue. We've always found compromise in the team when necessary whether it's over that issue or anything else.

"At the end of the day it's about winning first and who gets what afterwards is something that can be discussed."

Hamilton's victory was McLaren's third in succession, but as the team celebrated with victory photographs in red t-shirts afterwards, there appeared to be tension in the air.

As Whitmarsh hugged Hamilton, the embrace looked strained and then the 2008 champion and race victor struggled to raise a smile, or a clenched fist, when asked to by photographers.

By contrast team-mate and fellow-Briton Jenson Button was entirely helpful even though he had been forced to retire without a point.

On paper, as Button has pointed out in public to Hamilton, the Englishman has more to lose than gain by leaving McLaren.

McLaren have won the last three races and Hamilton has risen to second in the drivers title race, 37 points behind Ferrari's Spaniard Fernando Alonso.

Mercedes best finish in the last three races is sixth and they have not won a race since the Chinese Grand Prix in April.

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