Lewis Hamilton has said he feels it will be at least six months before he can have an impact on Mercedes' development in the 2013 F1 season.
The Briton will leave McLaren
at the end of the year to partner Nico Rosberg
at the Brackley-based team, swapping the team that carried him to his 2008 title for one that has managed just a single win in three seasons.
Mercedes will hope that the signing of Hamilton helps them to make a push forwards toward the front having failed to capitalise on the potential shown by Rosberg's win in China this season, but Hamilton himself said it would take time for him to have an impact.
"I think the guys have great, great potential and that's why I'm going there," he told Sky Sports News
. "I don't see it as a short-term thing. For me personally, I don't get in the car until February, so I won't be able to have a big enough impact until at least six months down the line.
"I think 2014 has to be the most important year, or the most competitive year. But I don't see why we can't try and clinch a few podiums. If we get some wins next year - if it just happens to go really, really well - then we'll be smiling. But we'll see."
Hamilton meanwhile has said his farewells to McLaren
staff at its Woking base, having made his final trip to the team's technology centre last week ahead of his departure.
"My time at McLaren
has been fantastic," he was quoted as telling staff during the visit. "When I arrived in Formula 1 in 2007, I now realise I never really grasped what I was taking on. Ron had told me: 'Don't be surprised if you're 0.5sec slower than Fernando', and I just smiled because I knew it wouldn't be the case. But, even so, that year was very hard, for many reasons.
"The following year, 2008, as a result of so much hard work from all of you, we won the Championship. Thanks so much. You were brilliant - you still are. I have so much affection and love for this team. And that's why McLaren
has always felt like home.
"Maybe I'll come back one day...if you'll have me."