Lewis Hamilton admits that he was swung like a pendulum about the two offers from Mercedes and McLaren for 2013 F1. He added that it was a “toughest decision” of his career but eventually one that he felt compelled to make.
Last Friday Lewis Hamilton confirmed that join to Mercedes with a new three year deal. Following McLaren announced that Sergio Perez as his replacement at Woking based squad with multi-year deal.
“It has been very, very stressful,” Hamilton told the Daily Telegraph.
“I’ve been with this team since I was 13 and met Ron [Dennis, McLaren chairman] when I was 10. My dream back then was to race for this team. It was a little bit like a pendulum because one moment I would think, ‘Let’s go for it’, the next I would think ‘I’m going to stay’. That’s why I took my time; because I wanted to make sure I stuck with one of [those feelings].”
Last grand prix at Singapore the Lewis Hamilton retired from the race on the top position, now he is 52 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso.
“It [the DNF] made no difference,” he said. “I had kind of already had the feeling a few days before but it stuck with me and this time I didn’t have any swinging back. Then I got to Thailand and it was incredibly peaceful and I just sat by the pool and thought for several hours.
“It was important to do it on my terms. I wasn’t gong to be pushed and rushed, although there was a lot of pressure. Martin [Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal] had been asking me when I was going to do a deal since China last year. I had a couple of deadlines, I didn’t meet any one of them. It was really, really tough but once I made the decision I was so much more relaxed.”
Ron Dennis is another subject. Does he feel betrayed by his former protégé? “I don’t know, you will have to ask Ron,” Hamilton said. “When I spoke to Martin I said that the plan was not to burn bridges. I don’t feel as though I am going out of McLaren through the back door. I am going out the front door, happily.
“The way I look at it is that I am walking over that bridge and down a different path. If that path brings me back, who knows? I think I will always have McLaren in my heart.”
Hamilton also says that no unrest with McLaren. And he admire with McLaren team, factory, facilities, especially he satisfied with working with intelligent people.
“I could have stayed and it would have been easy,” he said. “There was no unrest with McLaren. They are an incredible team. They have the best facilities by far. The factory is untouchable and it will get even better because they are building the new wind tunnel at some stage. They have got incredibly intelligent people. They’ve got everything, really, so in fact they should be winning more.
“I had two offers on the table which were very, very similar. One had slightly fewer [PR] days but it was not about the offer. Martin asked me what more they could have done. I said, ‘To be honest, Martin, it is about the challenge. It is a step that I want to make. 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 I guess.
“It wasn’t about Ross [Brawn, Mercedes team principal]. It wasn’t about Niki [Lauda, Mercedes-Benz vice-chairman]. It was about Mercedes, a team which has not been that successful over the last couple of years. I know some of the greats have gone from a great car to not such a great car and have helped to develop a winning team. Michael [Schumacher], for instance, went from being a world champion to Ferrari. We haven’t really got any other driver in Formula One who is known for that. I hope that one day someone can say that about me.”
Images © McLaren/Mercedes