Lewis Hamilton has changed his tune regarding the potential for a Mercedes victory in 2013, having visited the marque's Stuttgart factory for the first time.
The 2008 world champion, who has already been a regular at the Three Pointed Star's F1 facility in Brackley since parting ways with McLaren
at the end of 2012, continued his new relationship by making a guest appearance at the parent company's German headquarters, and spoke positively about his chances of success with a team that faded badly towards the end of last season. Nico Rosberg, who will partner Hamilton this year, failed to score in the final six races of the campaign, while Michael Schumacher – whose retirement makes room for the Briton – only prevented a seven-race barren spell by finishing in the top ten at Interlagos.
“Of course, it's going to be tough to compete, to beat the guys that are already at the front like the Red Bulls and the Ferraris and McLarens, but I don't think it's impossible,” he smiled, “I live to win - that's what I work towards every year, and that's what we're going to work towards this year.”
Regardless of his new-found optimism, Hamilton is under no illusion about how tough the year will be, despite Mercedes having finally broken through and claimed its first modern-era win as a constructor with Rosberg in last year's Chinese Grand Prix.
Although the F1 rumour mill suggests that a familiar face could be poised to join him in making the switch [ see separate story
], Hamilton admits that there are more basic hurdles to clear before he can think about what will happen on track.
“I think this year's going to be an interesting year, an interesting journey,” he conceded, “Learning and getting to know new people, and working with new people, is always a massive challenge, so that's first and foremost one of the biggest challenges I have.
“After that, it's trying to succeed, trying to extract the most out of them and vice-versa. But I think it's going to be a journey that we are going to enjoy.”
Like Paddy Lowe, Nico Rosberg
is already familiar to Hamilton, and the Briton insists that he is looking forward to pairing up with the German for the second time in his career.
“We were team-mates, sponsored by AMG, in karting, so I've known Nico for many years,” he confirmed, “I'm really looking forward to working with, first of all, a great guy, but also a great talent.
“To be back as part of Mercedes' world, and part of the Silver Arrows, is a real privilege. I'm so grateful to be welcomed into the team, and really excited [about what lies ahead].”