Lewis Hamilton tells Sky Sports F1 expectation on him at Mercedes fine by him
Hamilton says first target for Mercs is to improve on last year
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 28/01/13 6:36pm
Lewis Hamilton has told Sky Sports F1 he is ready to cope with the pressure of expectation attached to his move to Mercedes as he bids to help turn them into serial winners.
The 2008 World Champion's arrival at the Brackley-based team in place of Michael Schumacher has been viewed as an undoubted statement of intent by the German manufacturer after three seasons of disappointing results since their return to team ownership.
The high-profile nature of the transfer, combined with Hamilton's status in many observers' eyes as the current fastest driver in F1, has already served to heighten expectations like never before at Mercedes for 2013.
But speaking in an exclusive interview with Sky F1 pundit Johnny Herbert, Hamilton declared he wasn't fazed about both stepping into the shoes of the sport's most successful driver and being expected to deliver the goods during the course of his three-year contract.
Herbert: Mercedes can compete this year
"It's a privilege to be driving for a team that have had such a legend working with them and by no means do I feel like I'm replacing him," Hamilton replied when asked about the pressure of following Schumacher. "No one can replace someone that's achieved so much in their career.
"I think for me, I'm just younger and still have so much to aspire to do in the future. Of course, the team are expecting great results and all these kind of things, but that's good because that's what I live and breathe for.
"That's what I expect from myself. I expect more from myself than probably they expect from me."
Despite the heightened expectation surrounding Mercedes for 2013, Hamilton reiterated that his first year at Brackley would largely be one of "learning" as the team take time to understand what he requires from a car.
"Michael would have liked a certain way the car handling and set-up, so his engineers would be used to that. Same with Nico [Rosberg]," he told Johnny.
"And I'm different in the way I like to drive I would think and so I require different things. I like to steer the car in a slightly different direction, who knows, or maybe just going in the direction they've been going.
"But having this learning year, it's like it's a banker year, where we learn our ways [of doing things] and sit down and get that experience and then for the next year the guys will know what I want.
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"So I can have a lot more input into next year's car because I can tell them what I feel in the car, the aero balance I like to have, ride height, all these things. So they'll have a much better understanding of what I require from a car to put it at the front."
While Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso has predicted Hamilton will win at least one grand prix in 2013, Hamilton says Mercedes first task must be to focus on ensuring this season turns out to be better than last year, when they slumped to fifth in the Constructors' Championship.
Asked what he thought would be a realistic position to finish in the championship this year, Hamilton replied: "Well, nothing but first is ever acceptable at least in my books, but of course we have to be realistic and know that we have got some serious competitors who have some good cars already that will be evolving into this year's car. So they're already starting from a good position.
"For me, I think we want to do better than what they have done. Last year was a tough season for them. The guys are working towards having a better year than they did last year and anything further past that, ahead of where they were last year, is a positive."
Johnny Herbert's full exclusive interview with Mercedes' star signing 'Inside Track: Lewis at Mercedes' is repeated at 7pm, and then 10pm, on Monday evening on Sky Sports F1, and then across the following days on the channel.