Lewis Hamilton admits that this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix will be an emotional event as he bids farewell to the McLaren team with which he has spent his entire F1 career.
The Briton announced that he would be departing the Woking squad shortly after the Singapore Grand Prix, and has spent the intervening weeks fending off questions about both the decision and, given the Mercedes team's poor form, whether he had any regrets. Hamilton insists that, while he is preparing for the task of turning the Three Pointed Star around, he still wants to sign off his McLaren career with another win, to add to the one he took last weekend in Texas.
"It's quite a unique experience for me," he conceded, "I've obviously never been in the situation I'm in this weekend, where it's my last race for the team I grew up in. It's going to be a tough one. Nonetheless, we're going to push as hard as we can, as we did in the last race, and try to win.
"I think I'll take away only positive memories of our journey together - winning the world championship, winning my first grand prix, starting out together and, I guess, this weekend. I only have good memories, [and] I leave with just the best experiences and, hopefully, a lot of good friends that I will continue to be friends with throughout the future. I was just saying to them that even though I'll be with Mercedes, I'll probably keep coming back to have lunch and dinner back at the hospitality because the food's great there!"
Indeed, Hamilton is never saying never when it comes to possibly returning to McLaren further down the line, despite having a three-year stint at Mercedes to look forward to.
"I think [McLaren] will always be my home, [and] I'll always look at is as my home," he told Sky Sports News
, "It's where I've come from, and so going back there would be nice one day. But I want to go and experience some things along the way. It's almost like leaving home and going travelling for a bit - I'm just doing it with a different company."
Having overcome title favourite Sebastian Vettel to win the inaugural USGP at the Circuit of the Americas last Sunday, Hamilton heads to Interlagos on a high, and is equally determined to win again, despite picking out an unexpected rival..
"I've never won here before [and] I'm going to have to try and beat Felipe [Massa], as he wants to win it," he said, "It's such a beautiful race here so, hopefully, the weather will hold up for us."
Hamilton's victory in the USA has added extra spice to the championship battle between Vettel and Fernando Alonso, both of whom are now aware that they could need to beat the McLaren if they are to lift the crown for a third time. The Briton has no intention of interfering with the fight but, as he told a separate interview with the official F1 website, he is also not going to deny himself the win he wants to say goodbye to McLaren.