Monday, 21 January 2013, will go down as a big day in the history of Mercedes F1 team. Apart from announcing a number of senior management changes, it was also Lewis Hamilton’s first visit to Stuttgart headquarters as a fully fledged member of the Silver Arrows team.
Hamilton is no stranger to Mercedes as his 21 Formula One victories were all with Mercedes powered cars. He was part of the AMG karting team in his early teens and Mercedes engines powered him through Formula 3.
Enthusiastic applause greeted the 2008 world champion as he stepped up to address a hall filled with Mercedes staff.
He told them, “It is great to be back here in Stuttgart. I have always been a part of Mercedes since I was in Formula 3. It’s not going to be a quick fix, it takes time, but I feel fresh and I feel ready. I am very very confident that [by] 2014 we will have the best package.”
Later speaking to German TV, Hamilton said, “To be back and to know I am part of the Mercedes world, with the Silver Arows is a real privilege. I am grateful to be welcomed into the team. I am really excited.”
After the end of the 2012 season Hamilton found time to visit the F1 team’s headquarters in Brackley. He recalled, “I was at Brackely in early December, asking a lot of questions and trying to get as involved as I could during the limited time I was there. It was great to see how enthusiastic everyone was, it looks like there is an incredible determination to turn this thing around. That gave me a lot of motivation for my winter.”
Hamilton, who won the 2008 world title with McLaren, and had been part of the Woking based squad since his youth, acknowledged that 2013 would be a year of learning.
“I think this is going to be an interesting year, and interesting journey. Learning and getting to know new people, Working with new people will be a massive challenge. And [these are] first and foremost the biggest challenges I have,” admitted the 28 year old.
He added, “After that [the challenge] is to try and succeed with them, to extract the most out of them and vice versa. I think it is going to be a journey we will enjoy.”
Hamilton, who replaced German legend Micahel Schumacher in the Mercedes team, nevertheless remains positive and undaunted, “I live to win. That is what I work towards every year. That’s what we will be working towards this year. Of course it will be tough to compete and beat the guys that are already at the front – the Red Bulls, the Ferraris and the McLarens – but I don’t think it is impossible.”
The move to the Silver Arrows reunites him with good friend and former team mate (in their junior years) Nico Rosberg.
“I have a good relationship with Nico. We live in the same building, so we are next door neighbours. Around Christmas I did not have food in the house so I went up and his girlfriend cooked for us,” revealed Hamilton, who lives in Monaco.
“I was teammates with him many years ago, when we were sponsored by AMG in karting. So I have known Nico for many years and I am looking for working firstly with a great guy, but also a great talent,” added the Briton.
The addition of Toto Wolff to the senior management of the team and all of Mercedes’ motorsport activities was announced on the same day as Hamilton’s visit to Stuttagrt, where he was inevitably asked about the former Williams executive director.
Hamilton responded, “I have only met Toto a couple of times at the races. He seems like a really pleasant guy and I welcome him into the team. I look forward to working with him. Obviously his goal is the same as mine, as is everyone else’s in the team. I look forward to the journey.” (GP247)