Sir Lewis Hamilton has opened up on his risky decision to join Mercedes as he prepares to celebrate 10 years since he first raced for the Formula One team.
The British sporting legend shocked the motorsport community a decade ago when he left high-flying McLaren, the team with which he had enjoyed so much success, for mid-table Mercedes.
In March 2013, he made his debut for the Silver Arrows at the Australian Grand Prix, finishing fifth, the beginning of a long journey that would see the 38-year-old become the most successful driver in F1’s history.
To date, Hamilton has recorded seven championships, 103 wins, 103 poles and 191 podiums – not bad considering that many thought he had doomed his career by choosing Mercedes.
‘Did it feel like a risk? Of course! When you make decisions, you go through changes and it’s always going to be a risk,’ Hamilton told Mercedes’ official website ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
‘But I would feel like I’m not living if I’m not taking risks, not constantly challenging myself and those around me. It was the inevitable direction I had to go, and it felt right.
‘It was a feeling that I had; I wanted something new. I was excited to work with new people and enter a team that had struggled. Taking everything that I had learned and seeing if I could apply it somewhere else.
‘I was excited by the plans I had heard were being put in place to scale up the Team and going all in to become champions. I went with what I felt in my gut and in my heart. It led me to this amazing Team and this incredible journey we are on.
‘So many people told me it was wrong. I knew that if I didn’t make the move though, I would have regretted it.
‘I didn’t have any second thoughts… although I do remember around Christmas sitting outside in the cold looking over the snowy mountains thinking: ‘Shoot! I hope I’ve made the right decision.’
It is rare for a driver to spend so long with a single team, but Hamilton’s time at Mercedes could come to an end in 2023, with his contract up and the Silver Arrows struggling for pace.
It would take a miracle for him to beat Max Verstappen and Red Bull at the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne, and many have wondered whether it is time Hamilton took another huge risk as he looks to become the first driver to win eight world titles.
For now though, he’s working hard to improve Mercedes’ fortunes, adding: ‘We know we’re not perfect and we can always be better – that’s what we are always trying to do.
‘We don’t have a great car right now but we’re putting one foot in front of the other. We know we can get back to the front.
‘It’s going to be the hardest task we’ve faced together to get back to where we want to be and catch Red Bull. But what an accomplishment that will be!’
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