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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton: I wasn't building something at McLaren

World champion Lewis Hamilton discusses his motivation behind leaving McLaren to join Mercedes and how he might have only had one championship during his 14 years in Formula 1.

Article
To news overview © Mercedes

Prior to joining Mercedes Lewis Hamilton only had one title to his name. The switch to the German team in 2013 was considered by many to be a risky career move especially given the pace of McLaren in the 2012 Formula 1 season.

Despite the massive success he achieved in the intervening year, the Briton does concede that there was certainly an element of doubt in his mind when he decided to leave the Woking outfit. Despite his apprehension, Hamilton's motivation to "build something" outweighed his fear.

“For sure there was moments when I was like, geez, I don’t know when I’m going to win again. I had to really analyse a lot of the pros and cons," he said speaking to Mercedes sponsor Crowdstrike.

“I’d been with McLaren since I was 13 so it was my family and I was very safe there, I was well taken care of.

“But I think McLaren had this amazing history, they had multiple championships, they were super-successful and I felt that I wasn’t necessarily helping build something. It was already an illustrious team, it already had all that success. It had the biggest cabinet of trophies and I wanted to go somewhere where I could help, could be a big part of building something.

“When I joined this team, it didn’t have many trophies in the cabinet. It was on the way up, it was growing, it was building. There was more people coming. And I was like, I want to go somewhere and see if I can utilise everything I’ve learned in all these years, the privilege of working at McLaren, apply those learnings to a team that’s not being very successful to becoming successful.”

The seven-time world champion also described how a famous quote from his idol Ayrton Senna also motivated him to leave his sanctuary.

“But for me, taking the risk: Senna used to say ‘if you’re not going for a gap, you’re no longer racing driver’. I think if you’re not taking risks in life, then you’re standing still," he said.

“So I could have stayed there. In hindsight, you look at if I had stayed, I wouldn’t have another championship to my name. I would still be a one-time world champion after 14 years.”

The Mercedes driver also paid tribute to the people who helped ease his transition including Ross Brawn and Austrian legend Niki Lauda.

“And I’m really, really grateful that I took that step. I took that leap of faith. It’s thanks to people like Niki – rest his soul – and to Ross and to Mercedes for truly believing in me.”

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