Lewis Hamilton is preparing to take a step back in time this weekend, when he drives around Brands Hatch for the first time in almost five years as the DTM paddock is injected with Formula 1 glamour on UK soil.

Hamilton competed on the DTM bill back in 2004 and 2005, en route to lifting the laurels in the F3 Euroseries with ASM Formule 3 - so in a way his Brands Hatch appearance, during which he will take his McLaren-Mercedes F1 car around the undulating Kent circuit, will be something of a homecoming. It is undoubtedly one he is anticipating with a great deal of excitement.

"I am really looking forward to the DTM event at Brands Hatch on Sunday," the F1 World Championship leader enthused. "It is always really good fun when we run the McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 car away from the race weekend, as the spectators can get closer to the action.

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"I have done a couple of events this year in front of my home crowd, such as Goodwood and the Double 12 Festival, and you get to have some fun and spend some time with the fans. Events like this give me the opportunity to spend some time meeting fans and signing autographs. I am never able to sign as many as I would like, but I promise I do try!

"It is very important to me to have the chance to do this, as the support I get from the fans is incredible and you must never take that for granted. I think I will be in the Mercedes-Benz display area for an interview over the tannoy and an autograph session on Sunday morning, then after that I will watch the race together with my family. It will be like going back in time to three years ago!"

Indeed, the 23-year-old has come a long way in those past three years, taking in GP2 Series title glory on the way to a scene-stealing debut in F1 last year, and he is now once more embroiled in a fraught three-way scrap for the laurels second time around in 2008. Though Brands may therefore be something of a busman's holiday for him, it is an event he is clearly relishing.

"I've not driven at Brands Hatch for a few years," the eight-time grand prix-winner reflected, "but I love the track, so it is great that Mercedes-Benz have organised this demo. I think the last time a current Formula 1 car ran at the track was in 1986, when Nigel Mansell won the race, so it is pretty cool to be taking it back!

"The DTM drivers get to race 82 laps of the shorter Indy circuit. There is so much going on during a lap of the track because it is so short with so much packed into it, that the drivers have no time at all to relax. I can always remember thinking the lap at Brands is over so quickly - the drivers will have to be very fit to stay focused in those hot DTM cockpits for 82 laps!

"I competed in a couple of races at the end of the 2003 season in the British F3 Series at Brands Hatch, after I had won the Formula Renault title that year. Racing through Druids in an F3 car was just awesome; I cannot wait to see what it will feel like in my Formula 1 car, but I won't be pushing so hard!

"Other sections of the track - such as when you go up the hill to Paddock Hill Bend - are also fantastic; you can't see the corner and then when you plunge downhill on the exit, you hit this enormous compression. It is unlike any other track I have raced on.

"When I was in the F3 Euroseries, it didn't support the DTM at Brands Hatch, which was a shame, but with the British F3 races and the three victories I took at the track in Formula Renault in 2002 and 2003, I know the circuit quite well."

The Stevenage-born ace is evidently similarly keen to catch up with some of his fellow Mercedes drivers in the DTM, having raced alongside a number of them in the past and having worked especially closely with McLaren F1 test driver Gary Paffett at the Woking-based outfit. He also revealed that though he had no particular favourites, he would be rooting for a British triumph on home turf - as he himself indeed achieved at Silverstone earlier this summer.

"The DTM is fantastic!" Hamilton underlined. "It is a great series, the racing is always pretty exciting and the atmosphere is really open and welcoming. The drivers get close to the fans, as they can buy tickets for the paddock pretty easily. There is always something happening on and off the track; it is definitely worth coming down for the day.

"I know all of the Mercedes-Benz drivers as we often bump into each other during the year, but of course I know the British drivers that I competed against as we came up through the ranks better. For example, I raced with Susie Stoddart in Formula Renault; we shared the podium a couple of times.

"When I won my first Formula 3 race in 2004 at the Norisring, I finished just ahead of Jamie Green, the year when he won the Euroseries title. Gary Paffett is my team-mate at McLaren-Mercedes, so we spend a lot of time working together on developing our Formula 1 car.

"I used to do lots of fitness training sessions with the Mercedes DTM guys, which was challenging and always a lot of fun as well. We are all so competitive - whatever part of the programme we were doing - so running, cycling and so on, we all wanted to win, badly.

"I can remember the first session I went to; I was so much younger than the DTM guys, and was there with legends like Bernd Schneider. I couldn't believe it, but after a couple of hours I soon found my competitive streak!

"I will be supporting all the Mercedes-Benz drivers; however, a victory for a British driver in a Mercedes in front of his home crowd would be fantastic. I was fortunate to experience winning my home race in front of my home crowd at Silverstone this year. The atmosphere was something else, so it would be great to see that happen again at Brands Hatch."