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Hamilton: Mercedes farewell year feels ‘surreal’

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Hamilton: Mercedes farewell year feels ‘surreal’

Hamilton reflects on ’emotional’ last launch with Mercedes (0:41)

Lewis Hamilton says it’s been an emotional and surreal experience as he prepares for his final year with Mercedes before moving to Ferrari in 2025. (0:41)

  • Laurence Edmondson, F1 EditorFeb 14, 2024, 08:32 AM ET

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      • Joined ESPN in 2009
      • An FIA accredited F1 journalist since 2011

Lewis Hamilton said it was an “emotional” and “surreal” experience to attend his last car launch as a Mercedes driver before moving to Ferrari in 2025.

The seven-time champion shocked the racing world earlier this month when it was announced he would leave his Mercedes contract a year early to join Ferrari at the start of next year.

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Hamilton has driven for Mercedes since the start of 2013, winning six of his seven titles with the team as well as 82 of his 103 race victories.

“It’s obviously been emotional and it’s very surreal to be here” Hamilton said at the launch of the car. “I came here in 2013, so 11 years with the team and now starting my 12th.

“It is such a privilege to work with a group of people where you see the work they’re doing over winter.

“We’ve gone through this process over the last couple of years, you see a car come together at the beginning of the year, and it’s the most exciting part of the season really when you see everyone’s launches.”

Hamilton has often talked about his unfinished business with Mercedes after he missed out on an eighth title due to the controversial handling of the final laps of the 2021 season finale by F1’s former race director Michael Masi.

Since the introduction of new technical regulations in 2022, Mercedes has struggled to remain competitive and last year finished a distant second in the constructors’ standings to reigning champions Red Bull.

Hamilton said he has remained committed to helping the team return to the front of the grid.

“The focus through the whole of winter training is first to get the team back to where we once were,” he added. “I think we’ve had this difficult couple of years, which I think has been really grounding for us.

“It’s now helped us regroup, we’ve had to relook at things and it’s now just going through the important process of being really diligent with our work, understanding the data, understanding the car.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said the team was determined to finish its partnership with Hamilton on a high, starting with the car’s first laps during a shakedown at the Silverstone circuit in the U.K. on Wednesday.

“Obviously, it is going to be our last season with Lewis, so we are keen on bringing a really quick car,” he said. “In the factory there has been hard work to bring the product that we will see today how it goes.

“I can’t remember all of us being so interested in finally starting the car up and seeing how it is. This is a complete relaunch of a car, it is very different, not only on the aerodynamic surfaces, but underneath there are so many mechanical changes that we have done, which we hope are going to translate into more performance so the drivers can really push.”

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