The Brit drove for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team between 2007 and 2012 and after six seasons with the team he felt that the environment was too controlling for him. He needed to take more control of his life and he did that by moving to the Brackley based Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.
Hamilton spoke in a very revealing interview with the Daily Mirror, saying that the controlling environment was down to McLaren boss Ron Dennis being, as he phrased it, “The Godfather.” He said “At McLaren, Ron is the Godfather. Naturally there does come that power. I don’t know if it’s about fear but there were definitely parallels,”
Discussing the environment that he grew up in, he joined McLaren at the age of 13 as one of their young drivers, he added “I have been in a very controlled environment since I can remember and it’s not until the last couple of years that I’ve come out of that control.”
He made the controversial move to join Mercedes but it has seemingly been the right one, not only for the car but also for himself and who he is. Late in his spell at McLaren, the 2008 world champion had looked increasingly unhappy at the Woking based squad.
Now at Mercedes he has asserted his own control on his life and is refreshingly different both in and out of the car. He is more relaxed and looks happier than ever. Continuing, he said “No one controls me now. I’m able to be my own man. Obviously I’ve got bosses at Mercedes in Ross Brawn, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda. I make decisions I want to make now. I’m my own man and that’s what I always wanted.”
Discussing his current mood-set, he added “I’m happier now. I can do things and I don’t have to report to anyone.”
He is the first to admit that both McLaren and Mercedes offered him enticing deals which gave him a very tough decision to make. He made it just after the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix and decided to make a fresh start at a new team.
Hamilton admitted that the decision was down to risk, but not so unsurprisingly he went for the riskier option. The fact that he was moving to a non-front running team that have, so far, scored just one race victory was the deciding factor in favour of the “Silver Arrows.”I think there was a point where I weighed up the options and they were both good options but one was slightly riskier than the other and I wanted to try it,”
“It’s a little bit like when you leave home. In fact a bit more extreme than that. Taking that leap. If I stayed, I would remain in that environment I’m used to my whole life.
“I would stay with people I’d known my whole life. I’d have been protected. If I go the other way it’s all brand new.”
Now he knows that he must grab the opportunity by the horns and make the best of it, there is no time for mistakes and the pressure is on him to prove the doubters wrong. “I have to make the best use of it all, build those relationships, grab it with both hands, no time to mess around. There’s no time for mistakes. It’s all on me.”
Hamilton currently sits third in the drivers standings after taking two fifth and two third place finishes in the opening four rounds. His 50 point haul is 27 behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel and 36 ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Plenty of people doubted the switch, so he certainly has a lot of people to prove wrong and right now, he is doing just that.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic