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Lewis Hamilton Q&A: I needed a new challenge 04 Oct 2012

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 4 October 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren signs autographs.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 4 October 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 4 October 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 4 October 2012

Lewis Hamilton may be an outside bet for the 2012 title, but with six races remaining he is still in with a genuine shot. And what a present that would be to take to Mercedes - numbers one and two on their cars for next season, and a driver with inside knowledge of the 2013 McLaren. It could just be the start of a beautiful friendship…

Q: Lewis, how is your state of mind, knowing that you will only race another six times for McLaren? You’ve known them all since childhood - and now it’s goodbye…
Lewis Hamilton:
It is fantastic. I am in the best condition and very relaxed, as everything is sorted now for the future. I can fully concentrate now on the remaining races of the year to give the best for the team that has given me so much in my life. For me the most important thing is now to be able to give 100 percent to this team to help them to still win this year’s championship. Although I am 52 points behind, I am very confident and have a lot of faith in the team, especially what they have been doing recently in particular with the upgrades. So I feel that we have still a really good chance. It will still be a long way to close the gap.

Q: What were the factors for you in changing from a team that you have always called your home to a team that you do not know so well?
LH:
The reason for me having left McLaren has been mostly to find a new challenge for myself. I know that my car next year will not be as competitive as next year’s McLaren, but then this is exactly the challenge - the challenge of putting myself there to deal with that circumstance and how I will be able to turn this around. Most people probably wouldn’t have made that decision, but this is the way I feel. Also being able to work with people like Ross Brawn, who has been working already with Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, will be a quite exciting. I’ve known Mercedes since I was 13 years old, as they have been in a partnership with McLaren for their young driver support program, of which I became a part. So ever since then I have had a great relationship with them. So with their and McLaren’s support they got me to Formula One, and going there now just extends our relationship. Also I know Nico Rosberg from back then and we have been team mates when we were 15. Back then we said that it would be cool to become team mates again one day, and so here we are. Still we know that we won’t really be able to fight for the championship next year, although we would be happy to win a few races. But that was not the immediate objective for my change, rather it’s a long-term objective.

Q: How do you see your future integration into the Mercedes Formula One team?
LH:
They are a very professional team, and they will help me get up to speed as fast as possible. For me the challenge next year will be to develop the car to an extent that it will be able to fight for the championship as soon as possible. I know at the moment that it will not be as competitive as the McLaren, but this is the challenge.

Q: Do you think that you are in the best car on the grid at the moment?
LH:
At the moment I think the Red Bull is the best car, a bit better than the McLaren. Still I think we have a very good car and definitely in the top group to be able to fight for the championship.

Q: Knowing that you have developed next year’s McLaren car together with Jenson Button, what is your prediction on their future?
LH:
Next year’s McLaren will be even better than this year’s, as the car has made an evolution. So being with Mercedes next year I know that McLaren will be a tough competitor, with a car that will be fighting for the championship.

Q: How would you rate the McLaren’s fit with the Suzuka circuit?
LH:
I think we have a very good car here. Also Jenson won last year’s Japanese Grand Prix, and I think we have a better car than last year. So I would rate our chances as very high, but still we need to keep our fingers crossed, as the Red Bulls have made quite a step and we also shouldn’t underestimate Ferrari.

Q: Why is it that the Suzuka circuit is so popular amongst the Formula One drivers?
LH:
It is just a very cool circuit to drive, and also very high speed. Even before I was driving in Formula One myself I remember having watched some of the most exciting races on this circuit. The first sector with all its kerbs is really amazing, as there is no other equivalent layout like this. Also there are not a lot of run-offs, as it hasn’t been altered too much over the past few years.

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