Lewis Hamilton insists that he is enjoying his new life at Mercedes following his move from McLaren during the winter.

Having spent most of his career being guided by McLaren - from karting right through to F1 - the Briton elected to move on to pastures new after being offered the chance to replace Michael Schumacher at Mercedes following the German's decision to retire from the sport for a second time.

As well as giving the Briton the chance to take on a fresh challenge on track, it has also provided Hamilton with the opportunity to release himself from some of the restrictions that were in place with his former team.

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With that in mind, Hamilton admitted he was now more relaxed and happier than at any point in his career to date ahead of the start of the European F1 season this weekend in Spain.

"I'm hoping people have changed their perception of me since 2007," he told the Daily Mail. "I was in a very controlled environment for as long as I remember and only recently have I come out of that. Nothing controls me now. I've obviously got a boss in Ross Brawn, but now I make the decisions and I don't have to report to anyone.

"I think I've definitely developed a thicker skin. In the early stages, I was affected by everything. At the start, it's easier to get stung. I'm more consistent now because my mental strength has improved. So when Jackie Stewart talks about me, I just laugh it off. Some people are nosey, or they've nothing better to do. They're entitled to their opinions, but Jackie talks a lot. It was my worst decision moving to Mercedes and then he flipped it and said we can win the World Championship.

"It felt like leaving home -- taking that leap. Had I stayed, I would have been protected but been in the same environment with people I had known my whole life. Mercedes was all brand new and it was all on me, to build those relationships with no time to mess around and no time for mistakes. That felt most interesting."