Lewis Hamilton looking forward to developing title-winning car with Mercedes
Lewis says move to Mercedes is 'my last step of independence'
Last Updated: 04/10/12 11:46am
Lewis Hamilton insists he is not taking a gamble by switching to Mercedes and believes the move will pay dividends in the future.
The Briton ended a season of speculation over his future when he announced he would be leaving McLaren after six seasons in the Formula 1 championship with the Woking-based marque.
Mercedes have won just once in 52 races since they returned to the sport as a full works team in 2010 but Hamilton, 27, is convinced the team can deliver a title-winning car.
"No doubt it was one of the most difficult decisions I've faced in my life up to now," said the 2008 world champion.
"But a lot of other racing drivers, a lot of greats - (Alain) Prost and (Ayrton) Senna, they've all been with several teams.
"It's easy staying in the same place, but going somewhere else and taking on a new challenge is sometimes maybe even more exciting.
"I've had such a great career with McLaren. I signed for McLaren when I was 13 and have had such an incredible journey with them.
"I could stay in the great car that I have, which I've worked really hard to help develop with the team, or go to a car that's not so well developed and help it.
"I don't know what is going to happen. I just know that everyone has to experience these things, working with new people and in new environments.
"That is just part of growing up. It's my last step of independence."
Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn had suggested in his interview with Sky Sports F1 that the opportunity to play a role in the development of the team had been a central point in their pitch to Hamilton.
However, the flip side of the chance to join a team that he can help develop is the fact that he leaves one already well established and winning races on a consistent basis.
Asked if he thought if he could win the title with Mercedes in 2013, Hamilton made clear that he is fully aware that his new team have a climb ahead if they are to reach the summit of the sport.
"No, I'm fully aware the car at the moment is not a world championship-winning car," Hamilton replied.
"The car that I'm in right now is a car that I've developed. Next year will be an evolution of the car that I've helped develop [at McLaren] and that will be a championship contender.
"But we (Mercedes) will work very, very hard to have a better year next year, but it takes time. You don't just arrive and things change. I think the focus is more long-term.
"If I can go there, help them progress, if we get some wins, if we eventually win the world championship - that's going to be an incredible feeling for all of us."
Hamilton did also, however, make clear on Thursday that he remained focused on McLaren and trying to win the world title this year between now and the season finale in Brazil.
"I've been to see them [his engineers] but we haven't talked about it [Hamilton's move to Mercedes]. It's business as usual - which is focusing on the win here. That's how professional they are, and vice versa," he insisted.