Lewis Hamilton admits it will be a new adventure when he competes for Mercedes in the Australian Grand Prix this weekend.
The Briton will be at the wheel of something other than a McLaren for the first time in his career in the 2013 season opener after his winter switch and goes into the opening event of the campaign on the back of an impressive end to his winter testing programme in Spain.
Both Hamilton and Nico Rosberg showed impressive pace at the wheel of the F1 W04 in the final Barcelona test and the 2008 title winner said he was excited to get the latest phase of his career underway.
“It's the start of a new season and the beginning of a new adventure for me with Mercedes AMG Petronas,” he said. “I can't wait to get to Melbourne, get out on track and find out where we stand. The Australian Grand Prix is always an exciting race: the teams don't know how they compare in terms of performance, the fans are fantastic and, with big changes to the tyres again this year, we just don't know what will happen in the race.
“I love the circuit. It's a street track with a really bumpy surface so you try and put as much downforce on the car as possible and it really puts the drivers to the test. We had a good, reliable car during winter testing so that's the positive we can take with us into the weekend but we know that in terms of performance, everything begins again from zero in Friday practice. So let's get Down Under, get racing and see how things turn out.”
Team boss Ross Brawn insisted he was pleased with the progress made by the two drivers over the winter and was eager to now see where the team lies when the real on-track business begins.
“The first race is where we can really begin to assess our competitive position and how much of a step forward we have made with our new Silver Arrow,” he said. “We had a successful pre-season testing programme and personally, I am pleased with the progress we have made, both with the car and in terms of how we operate as a team.
“However, testing is simply that; racing is a completely different situation and Melbourne will see much higher track temperatures and more varied conditions than we have experienced so far. We're looking forward to the challenge and to the action starting in Melbourne next weekend.”