Lewis Hamilton will join Brackley-based Mercedes in the new year eager to show them he still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
After a gut-wrenching exit from Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix to end his six years with McLaren on a low note, Hamilton was today looking ahead to the next three years with the Northants-based Mercedes team.
The 27-year-old faces one final emotional pull this week when he visits the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking to say his goodbyes.
Beyond that, and with McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh’s permission, Hamilton will be allowed contact with the Mercedes staff at Brackley before officially linking up on January 1.
“I won’t be doing much technical work with them, but I’m allowed to talk to people,” said Hamilton.
“Leaving McLaren is definitely tough, but I’m looking forward to next year. It’s going to be something new, a new experience, and we’ll see what happens.
“All I know is I’m going to give it absolutely everything and hope we can be competitive and that the future will be bright.”
Although the facilities at Brackley are not quite a match for those at the MTC, Hamilton is keeping an open mind about what he will find when he walks through the gates for the first time as a Mercedes driver.
“I’m not really anticipating anything, I guess something similar to what I have here,” Hamilton added.
“I’m expecting to see a great group of people who are determined as anything to win because they’ve not been winning.
“Hopefully, as a driver who has been winning, they will be excited to have me there.”
The difference between the two teams over the past three seasons since Mercedes returned to F1 is startling.
Under the leadership of Ross Brawn, Mercedes have managed a solitary victory and, in the final six races of this season, amassed just six points from Michael Schumacher’s seventh place at Interlagos on his final F1 outing after 308 races.
Although Brawn has gathered a considerable technical team around him, he has likened Hamilton’s arrival to that of fitting the final piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
“I think that’s cool. Hopefully I’ve a lot of respect there, so I’m very excited to be joining,” Hamilton added.
“Obviously, I’m sad to be leaving a lot of great people at McLaren, but I wish them all the best and I look forward to racing against them from next season.”
Hamilton’s speed and talent are obvious, but asked what he felt he was taking to Mercedes, he replied: “I’ll wait to see.
“I’m sure I’ve still some tricks left up my sleeve, so I’ll be able to help them in some ways. I’ll help them in whatever way I can, as I’ve done with McLaren. It has been a team effort getting as competitive as we are, and I’m happy I did it.”
Despite winning the world title with McLaren and claiming 21 wins and 26 poles, Hamilton insists he does not regret making the move.
“I don’t think there’s a right or wrong decision,” he added. “I made a decision, I’m happy with it, and I’ll go and do the best job with it.
“I know McLaren has an amazing car next year, they’ll be competitive, as will Red Bull, but I’m just going to wait and see what happens.
“I’m going to try and enjoy my winter break and come back strong next year when I hope to have a half-decent car.”
At least Hamilton admits he will have more time for himself ahead of next season and not be bogged down by sponsorship commitments, as was often the case with McLaren.
“Before I join Mercedes I’m going to have the biggest holiday I’ve had for a long, long time,” Hamilton said with a smile.
“And I look forward to hardly any of the PR events I’ve got. It will be like a third of the PR events I have here (McLaren), or maybe a quarter.
“I’ve a bit more time in my life to be able to train and prepare for what will be a new car, a new experience. It’s going to be interesting.”