Hamilton ‘loving new environment’
1 March 2013
He may have professed that wins would be unexpected in 2013, and faces the prospect of internal turmoil should the team's management structure be shaken up by the impending arrival of Paddy Lowe, but Lewis Hamilton insists that he is already loving life at Mercedes.
The Briton made what many saw as a backward step when he left regular contender McLaren for the works team, which has won just once since taking over from world champions Brawn in 2010, and suffered an accident on his first outing in testing, after a brake failure at Jerez sent him into the barriers, but he continues to see positives in the move.
Asked to explain the differences between the team he left behind and what he has found at Mercedes, the 2008 world champion revealed that, while both had the same commitments off-track – something he was looking to reduce while negotiating a new deal at McLaren – the Brackley squad treated its pilots better.
"We still have sponsors, sponsors' appearances and filming days, so there is not a huge difference," he acknowledged during the final pre-season test in Barcelona, “But the focus is on the driver, the driver's performance, the driver being ready for the job at hand. That's one thing I'm noticing is a little bit better here. It's not that I have more freedom, just that I have a little bit more time in my life.”
Despite having bounced back from a dismal 2011 campaign, when he freely admits that his focus was affected by problems in his personal life, Hamilton - who has acquired a private jet and pet bulldog since leaving Woking - admits that he expects to be even more 'on his game' following the change of teams.
“Moving from one company to another, it's re-energising," the 28-year old claimed, "You have to be more focused than ever, be on time more, be more productive.
"It's a new environment and I'm absolutely loving it. The team are making a huge effort at communicating with me and making sure we are up to speed ahead of the first race in Australia. I want to be as ready as I can possibly be, physically and mentally, making sure everything is taken care of.”
Despite his pessimism about the 2013 campaign, Hamilton has made no secret of the fact that he hopes to have the same effect on Mercedes as predecessor Michael Schumacher had on Ferrari, transforming an also-ran into a championship contender.
“I'm devoted to helping this team move forward,” he said, “I'm developing as a person, as a driver. There are always areas for improvement, and I have so many things I still need to learn.”