Mixed messages have emerged from McLaren figures, as the racing world digests the astonishing final laps to the 2008 world championship in Brazil last Sunday.

Mixed messages have emerged from McLaren figures, as the racing world digests the astonishing final laps to the 2008 world championship in Brazil last Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton needed only to finish fifth at Interlagos to be world champion, but amid a late rain shower, the Briton dropped to sixth behind Sebastian Vettel with two laps to go.

His subsequent pass at the final corner of the 71-lap race on the dry-tyre shod Timo Glock is now the subject of outlandish 'race fix' claims, moving Toyota to issue a clear denial in the form of an interview with Glock sent to the media on Monday.

The message emerging from McLaren, however, is less clear, with chief executive Martin Whitmarsh offering a starkly different account than Hamilton about the final laps.

In The Times newspaper, Whitmarsh is quoted as suggesting that Hamilton was advised to "let Vettel through" in order to avoid the danger of fighting the German's Toro Rosso.

"We were saying to Lewis, don't race him, let Vettel through. We knew we were racing Glock (and that) we should catch him on the last lap."

Hamilton, however, denies he deliberately let Vettel pass, explaining that he thought the German's move had cost him the title.

"It was very hard to keep him behind. To have lost the position to him, there was nothing I could do. I was pushing and pushing to get closer to him, taking more risks," Hamilton said.

"Not unnecessary risks but I knew I was in P6, I knew I was one point away from the world championship."

Contrary to Whitmarsh's account, Hamilton said he tried to urgently recover the position to Vettel, rather than wait to encounter Glock.

"'Gotta get him back', that was my first thought," he said. "You don't have time to lose focus or think, 'Oh, God, it's gone'. You just have to think fast, you've got two laps to get him back.

"It was close. There were a couple of corners left and it wasn't enough."

Hamilton said he was at turn 10 of Interlagos' 15-corner layout before he was informed about the struggling Glock.

"They told me 'Glock's just ahead, he's on slick tyres, he's struggling, if you can overtake him that would be great'," he said.

 

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