Hamilton: I have only good memories
23 November 2012
Lewis Hamilton admits that this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix will be an emotional event as he bids farewell to the McLaren team with which he has spent his entire F1 career.
The Briton announced that he would be departing the Woking squad shortly after the Singapore Grand Prix, and has spent the intervening weeks fending off questions about both the decision and, given the Mercedes team's poor form, whether he had any regrets. Hamilton insists that, while he is preparing for the task of turning the Three Pointed Star around, he still wants to sign off his McLaren career with another win, to add to the one he took last weekend in Texas.
"It's quite a unique experience for me," he conceded, "I've obviously never been in the situation I'm in this weekend, where it's my last race for the team I grew up in. It's going to be a tough one. Nonetheless, we're going to push as hard as we can, as we did in the last race, and try to win.
"I think I'll take away only positive memories of our journey together - winning the world championship, winning my first grand prix, starting out together and, I guess, this weekend. I only have good memories, [and] I leave with just the best experiences and, hopefully, a lot of good friends that I will continue to be friends with throughout the future. I was just saying to them that even though I'll be with Mercedes, I'll probably keep coming back to have lunch and dinner back at the hospitality because the food's great there!"
Indeed, Hamilton is never saying never when it comes to possibly returning to McLaren further down the line, despite having a three-year stint at Mercedes to look forward to.
"I think [McLaren] will always be my home, [and] I'll always look at is as my home," he told Sky Sports News, "It's where I've come from, and so going back there would be nice one day. But I want to go and experience some things along the way. It's almost like leaving home and going travelling for a bit - I'm just doing it with a different company."
Having overcome title favourite Sebastian Vettel to win the inaugural USGP at the Circuit of the Americas last Sunday, Hamilton heads to Interlagos on a high, and is equally determined to win again, despite picking out an unexpected rival..
"I've never won here before [and] I'm going to have to try and beat Felipe [Massa], as he wants to win it," he said, "It's such a beautiful race here so, hopefully, the weather will hold up for us."
Hamilton's victory in the USA has added extra spice to the championship battle between Vettel and Fernando Alonso, both of whom are now aware that they could need to beat the McLaren if they are to lift the crown for a third time. The Briton has no intention of interfering with the fight but, as he told a separate interview with the official F1 website, he is also not going to deny himself the win he wants to say goodbye to McLaren.
"I am not fighting for the championship, but I can still win the race," he insisted, "I don't know when I will have a car quite like the MP4-27 to win again, so I really hope to pull it off again this weekend. What speaks against it is that the Red Bulls have been quick here - every year. Maybe I can break that mould, but it is going to be difficult. I hope that the conditions stay good, but here you never know. Rain could come any time....
Asked for his views on how the championship may pan out, Hamilton acknowledged that Alonso's task of overhauling a 13-point deficit is made all the more difficult by the fact that the Ferrari has not been a match for Vettel's Red Bull in recent weeks.
"It will be tough for Fernando, as he definitely knows that the Red Bull is the better car - [and has been] a better car for a few years now," he reflected, "They probably struggled a bit in the last race, but the car is rapid, so he knows that he's got a steep curve to fight. But he is a true champion and he will fight no matter what, whether he has the biggest gun or not. If it does rain on Sunday, all this will turn into a big lottery, like it did when I won the championship here in 2008.
"My guess [as to the outcome] is as good as anyone else's, [but] I am wise and not putting money on anybody. I save it for the rainy days."