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When the news broke shortly after the Singapore Grand Prix that Lewis Hamilton had signed a three-year deal to drive for Mercedes, it shocked many in the F1 community.
McLaren had signed him up as an 11-year-old boy and nurtured him through his career, culminating in an unforgettable world drivers' title in 2008. But clearly all was not right in the world of Hamilton and he felt he needed a different and arguably bigger challenge.
"I wanted to do something different. I wanted a new challenge and have done for quite some time," Hamilton told F1 Racing magazine in a recent interview. "There were a lot of assumptions from people. I think Martin [Whitmarsh] assumed I would be staying, so when I made the call to him it was very tough and very emotional. Emotions were here... the mind thinking there. The heart was fighting the mind but I was in a comfortable place and just said: 'Let's do it.'"
Hamilton has endured an up and down sort of a season with McLaren to date, three race wins and three thirds balanced by five DNFs and some less than impressive results that currently see him fifth in the standings. Joining a team that have never really been front runners except for one season in their previous incarnation as Brawn GP is clearly a massive gamble. But Hamilton admits it is exactly that new challenge that motivates him.
"I can't lie that not winning is frustrating whether you're in this team or another team. I've had lots of experience of not winning and I've learned to deal with it in the past I believe we can eventually get those wins, but it's more long term. In 2014 the rules change massively with the new V6 turbo engines and the cars; everything starts from scratch again.
"I could take the easy route, stay with a great team with a great car making decent money. But I don't want to do that. I want to go and struggle and help a team that's struggling and help them frigging get to the top and start winning. That's going to be the most satisfying feeling if we do get there. And if we don't, I'll only be 31."