McLaughlin: Whincup made everyone a better driver

Scott McLaughlin says Jamie Whincup made everyone step up

Scott McLaughlin believes seven-time champion Jamie Whincup pushed every Supercars driver to be better on and off the track.

This week Whincup announced he will retire at the end of the 2021 season to take over Triple Eight Race Engineering as team principal and managing director.

Whincup’s driving future remains up in the air beyond this season, with the four-time Bathurst 1000 winner weighing up whether to stay on as a co-driver in 2022.

Speaking with Speedcafe.com, McLaughlin said he felt honoured to have raced against Whincup in his prime.

“I’m just really privileged to have been able to race him at his peak and able to race him since I was in the category when he was basically unbeatable and really on top of his game,” McLaughlin told Speedcafe.com.

“He made everyone a better race car driver in I believe his preparation, how he conducted himself in the media, and how he conducted himself with a team.

“He’s a very interesting character who demands a lot of respect which is really cool.”

McLaughlin was beaten by Whincup to the championship crown in 2017 but bounced back with a three-year streak of successes for the then-known DJR Team Penske.

The New Zealander, who has since graduated to the IndyCar Series in the USA with Team Penske, said he learned a lot from the “greatest of all time” Supercars driver.

“I probably learned how you can race hard and fair and be serious, but then off the track just press on,” said McLaughlin.

“As long as it’s continually respectful, a little bit of banter here and there, but he’s always never been one that would talk shit behind your back or anything like that.

“What you see is what you get. He just gets on with it and doesn’t really get caught up in too many of the politics and stuff like that.

“Even with all the parity and bits and pieces, he was always never really much of a person that got into it.

“I’ve always respected that and probably learned how to conduct myself better in the media due to how he conducted himself so he’s a class act.”

McLaughlin said Whincup’s retirement hadn’t come as a surprise, but still believes the 37-year-old has a lot left in him.

“We knew it was either going to be this year or next year, to be honest, just the way he was talking and going on about it,” McLaughlin explained.

“But he obviously knows it’s the right time for him. I still firmly believe he’s in his peak, like he’s a bloody good race car driver still, can easily compete for championships and it would be a bloody hard thing to just hang up the helmet and move on.”

Whincup’s bid for an eighth Supercars title gets underway with the Repco Mount Panorama 500 over February 26-28.

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