Lewis Hamilton says 'McLaren will always be my home' and he may return after Mercedes
Lewis likens move to "leaving home and going travelling for a bit"
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 23/11/12 3:05pm
'Goodbye' seems to be the hardest word of all for Lewis Hamilton. Despite not yet leaving for Mercedes, he is already talking up the prospect of returning to McLaren, the place he still considers 'home', in three years' time.
Having driven for the team since boyhood, Hamilton will drive a McLaren car for a final time this weekend at the Brazilian GP after signing a three-year deal with Mercedes. But as he prepares to bid the team farewell - an experience he admitted on Thursday would be "tough" - the 27-year-old didn't rule out the possibility that his departure might only be temporary, rather than permanent.
Only now, two months after signing for Mercedes, does Hamilton seem fully aware of the magnitude of the decision he has taken. McLaren is all he has ever known and a nasty dose of separation anxiety seems to have stricken Hamilton as he starts to pack up his belongings.
Likening his contracted three-year stint at Mercedes as "leaving home and going travelling for a bit", Hamilton told Sky Sports News: "You can never say never. I've had a great time. I think it [McLaren] will always be my home.
"I'll always look at is as my home, it's where I've come from, and so going back there would be nice one day.
"But I want to go and experience some things along the way. It's almost like leaving home and going travelling for a bit, I'm just doing it with a different company."
Indeed, while their relationship appeared increasingly tense in the weeks and months preceding his decision to move to Mercedes, Hamilton generally seems more enamoured with McLaren than ever before and has admitted he will find it a wrench to turn his back on what has been a two-decade association.
"I only have good memories and I'll leave with just the greatest memories of the best experiences and hopefully lots of friends who will continue to be friends in the future," said Hamilton in Thursday's press conference.
"I was just saying to them that I will probably keep coming back to have lunch with them and dinner at their hospitality because the food is great there!"
For now, however, Hamilton's only focus is on bowing out in style.
"It's quite a unique situation for me, I've obviously never been in a situation like this before where it's my last race for the team which I grew up with. It's going to be tough," he added.
"We're going to push as hard as we can and try to win. I've never won here before, and we'll have such a beautiful race here if the weather holds."
The forecast is for rain, but it remains to be seen whether Hamilton marks his departure with some waterworks of his own.
For 2013, Hamilton will line-up alongside Nico Rosberg at Mercedes and Fernando Alonso, whom Hamilton partnered during his rookie season of 2007, believes that their union can propel Mercedes back amongst the frontrunners.
"He'll be very strong and Nico will have some extra work to do. I think that with Nico and Lewis, Mercedes will be very strong and they can be serious contenders next year," predicted the Spaniard.
"I've a lot of respect for Lewis, he's probably the best or one of the best here. I spent one year with Lewis but it didn't work out too well because McLaren didn't share the same philosophy."