Lewis Hamilton believes that he is leaving McLaren on good terms, despite reports of a schism, having formed between himself and the man who helped guide him to the top flight.
The media has been quick to pick up on the fact that Hamilton and mentor Ron Dennis have not spoken much since his decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes in 2013. While the 2008 world champion points out that there hasn't been as much contact since Dennis relinquished his hold on day-to-day goings-on at the race team, the past month has been described a particularly tense, with reports speculating that Dennis feels betrayed by Hamilton's decision to try pastures new next season after failing to land a better deal in protracted contract negotiations.. The 27-year old, however, insists that that simply is not the case, even after comments Dennis made in a television interview during the summer.
“We didn't have a problem before - people have made up the story we had a problem, but it's not the case,” he told Britain's Daily Mirror
newspaper, “He's says it's no problem, he said change is good for both of us and we will always have great history, which is the truth. There was no friction [in the summer]. Sometimes Ron says those things because he is so McLaren through and through but, in the background, you'll see he's been very caring for me.
“McLaren will always be my home. [It is] just like when I told my parents I was leaving home. Some parents are happy, some are not. It's the same kind of feeling for me now. I am leaving home to try something new. I can always look back and say this is my home, where I did my growing up, this is where I learnt a huge amount. I don't feel anything but excitement. [I] really want to enjoy these last races with them team and, afterwards, it will be the beginning of a new chapter for me.”
Dennis has been more
than caring, having decided to take a punt on the precocious ten-year old who approached him at an awards ceremony proclaiming that he wanted to drive one of his F1 cars. Having become aware of Hamilton's karting success, McLaren decided to invest in his future, guiding him through the single-seater ranks - and to numerous titles - before slotting him into its 2007 line-up alongside double world champion Fernando Alonso. Whilst that partnership proved problematic as the Spaniard felt threatened by Hamilton's immediate pace, it was the Briton who made the Woking team his home, coming close to the title in his rookie season and then making sure he secured it at the second attempt.
In the meantime, he has racked up 20 grand prix wins for the team, and will look to add at least one more before leaving for Mercedes, but insists that there was never any question of feeling that he had repaid Dennis for investing in his junior career.
“No, it not like that at all," he stressed, "Listen, it's not something I want get into, it's absolutely insignificant. I don't need any negative stories to go out there saying 'I have repaid my debt' or 'I haven't repaid my debt'. It doesn't matter. We have won a world championship together, had an amazing journey together and I want to have a change and that's going to happen. And I am happy about it. End of story."