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Six months until I can have an impact on Mercedes - Hamilton

ESPN Staff
December 10, 2012 « Hamilton says McLaren goodbyes | Hulkenberg ready to lead Sauber »
Lewis Hamilton officially leaves McLaren to join Mercedes on December 31 © Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton believes it will be "at least six months" until he can have an impact on Mercedes' development in 2013.

Leaving McLaren at the end of the year, Hamilton is joining a Mercedes team with just one win in the last three seasons and a car which failed to score in five of the final six races of 2012. Having driven a McLaren for the last time during a demonstration run in Malta on Sunday, Hamilton said he is unable to tell if he will be able to challenge for race victories next season.

"I think it's far too early to say because I've never even driven the car," Hamilton told Sky Sports News. "It looks like in Brazil Mercedes were 1.1 seconds behind so we've got a long, long, steep hill to climb. But I don't think that's impossible, I think the guys have great, great potential and that's why I'm going there."

Hamilton added that it would be around half a season until he can have a real impact on the 2013 car, but was looking to the following year as the best chance for Mercedes to be competitive.

"I don't see it as a short-term thing. Firstly I don't get in to the car until February so I won't really be able to have a big enough impact until at least six months down the line. I think 2014 has to be the most important year - or the most competitive year - but I don't see why we can't try to clinch a few podiums. If we can get some wins next year ... if it just happens to go really, really well then we'll be smiling, but we'll see."