Blundell backs Hamilton move
Ex-McLaren driver says time was right for a new challenge
By William Esler at Donington Park. Last Updated: 01/10/12 11:05am
Ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Blundell has backed Lewis Hamilton's move from McLaren to Mercedes, stating that the time seemed right for a move.
Hamilton has been guided by McLaren since meeting Ron Dennis as a child and having progressed through the junior categories made his F1 debut with the team in 2007, narrowly missing on the World Championship in his debut season.
Whilst Blundell feels instant success for the new partnership at the Silver Arrows is unlikely, the 46-year-old says the move could prove beneficial in the long-term.
"I think the timing was right," Blundell told Sky Sports.
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"Obviously Lewis has been at McLaren since he was 13 years old, they have achieved everything they wanted to achieve - they've won races and a World Championship together. I think at the end of the day, the future was one that was going to be based on several areas which made both parties happy and quite clearly they couldn't get to that part.
"The other option of Mercedes-Benz coming along clearly produced something Lewis was comfortable with and the undertakings there must be enough for him to sit up and take notice.
"It is going to be very interesting to see how it pans out. I don't think the short-term results are going to be there with Lewis and Mercedes, but I think longer-term, particularly with the new engine regulations coming in in 2014 it could be a smart choice."
Blundell drove for McLaren, Brabham, Ligier and Tyrrell during his F1 career and knows the challenges that a driver can face when moving to a new team.
"The thing is Lewis doesn't know any different. He has only really been a round the McLaren organisation. In many ways it will be quite challenging for him, he is going to have to understand a different mentality of working and approach. He is going to have to understand all the individuals - he knew the others for half his life!
"They will look to him for 100% effort, 100% commitment, 100% performance to help them move forwards - that's why they have employed him. That is what it is all about and they won't have any understanding of where he was when he was a 13-year-old youngster coming through the ranks at McLaren.
"So he is going to go there on a different platform. He is going to go there certainly with some new objectives and certainly with some new challenges."
Echoing the comments by McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh, Blundell feels Hamilton will continue to receive McLaren's full support as anything else would not benefit either party.
"McLaren will give him 100% because they know they have a great opportunity to win that race with Lewis behind the wheel and it serves no purpose for them to do anything other than that. They still want to go out on a high and win as many races as they can and to have two options with Lewis and Jenson you couldn't ask for more.
"Yes, maybe in terms of where they head for the future, the amount of information that is available to a driver knowing that he is going on to a competitor may change. But that is not going to change what he is sitting in Sunday afternoon to get his job done."
Next up on the F1 calendar is the Japanese Grand Prix at what Blundell says is one of the greatest tracks in the world.
"Suzuka is one of the toughest circuits on the map and is one of the most challenging for a Formula 1 driver," he enthused.
"There are key corners in there, the conditions can also become quite tricky - we've seen some wet races there before - but it is a great place to go because I don't think there is any other circuit in the world where when the sunrise comes up, you already see a grandstand full with adoring fans. And that is certainly what we get in Japan - they are the most enthusiastic fans I have seen in the world."
And despite all of the off track distractions, Blundell expects Hamilton to triumph in Japan.
"I'm going to put my money on it and say Lewis is going to do it. He is just going to go there and get the job done, underline his move and underline what there is at McLaren still."