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'Nothing controls me now' - Hamilton

ESPN Staff
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Lewis Hamilton: "I was in a very controlled environment for as long as I remember and only recently have I come out of that" © Sutton Images

Lewis Hamilton feels as though he is no longer controlled by his team now he has moved from McLaren to Mercedes.

Hamilton made the switch in the winter, leaving McLaren where he had been since his Formula One debut in 2007. When he joined the sport he was managed by his father, Anthony, and had been helped up the motorsport ladder by McLaren boss Ron Dennis.

Hamilton says he no longer feels as much pressure in the decisions he makes and feels happier as a result.

"I'm hoping people have changed their perception of me since 2007," he told the Daily Mail. "I was in a very controlled environment for as long as I remember and only recently have I come out of that. Nothing controls me now. I've obviously got a boss in Ross Brawn, but now I make the decisions and I don't have to report to anyone.

"There was a time when I would make a call and worry about it, that I was wrong, because of the way I was raised to look to my dad. It felt like a lot of pressure and I don't have that now. I can call my dad and tell him I've bought a house or a car and share it with him. It's a different chemistry.

"Things are great with my dad now. It didn't happen immediately. There have been a lot of talks but time is a healer. It was about getting things off your chest.

"Sure, there are parallels between leaving Ron Dennis and redefining the relationship with my father. They are both powerful, ambitious people. My dad is the head of the whole family. He's like the Godfather and everyone goes to him with their problems. And Ron is like that at McLaren."

Hamilton also talked about negative influences in his personal life in recent years and how that resulted in poor performances on the track.

"It's taken me all that time to get here," he added. "In my personal life, about three years ago I had someone saying things that were affecting me and the racing wasn't going well, so there was a lot of negative media, too. It bothered me. It felt like an attempt to put me in that position and it caused a lot of problems.

"There was a lack of energy, a lack of motivation. It almost felt like depression because it did a lot of the same things, sapping your will to act, to perform. I couldn't focus on the job.

"There was a point where I was driving and crashing -- for no reason. I just wasn't on the ball. In this job you can't be thinking of anything else, you need to be focused all the time. I could still drive fast, but I couldn't stay focused. I was distracted. That person wasn't aiming to help me. Somehow I got through it. I no longer let negative energy surround me and I've learned how to deal with it."

Hamilton said one of the most important things about his move to Mercedes was that he made the decision alone.

"I stayed up a lot thinking about the move to Mercedes," he said. "I can overthink things at times. I did consider what my dad would feel, but I tried not to involve too many people because the call had to come from me. I went to Thailand on my own and made that decision on my own. I had two options, but as someone who likes adrenaline and excitement, one was riskier than the other. So I went with that one.

"It felt like leaving home -- taking that leap. Had I stayed, I would have been protected but been in the same environment with people I had known my whole life. Mercedes was all brand new and it was all on me, to build those relationships with no time to mess around and no time for mistakes. That felt most interesting."