10 years since moving to Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton reflects on what made him jump ship from McLaren to the Silver Arrows
After winning his maiden Formula 1 title with McLaren in 2008, Lewis Hamilton moved to Mercedes ahead of the 2013 season. It was a move that surprised many as the Silver Arrows were not the dominant team they were over the last few years.
It was a move that, in hindsight, was a masterstroke as Mercedes got everything right when the turbo-hybrid era started in 2014. Hamilton was in the right place to reap the benefits, winning six drivers’ championships, 82 races, and claiming 77 pole positions.
Reflecting on his move to Mercedes a decade ago, Hamilton said:
“Did it feel like a risk? Of course! When you make decisions, you go through changes and it’s always going to be a risk. But I would feel like I’m not living if I’m not taking risks, not constantly challenging myself and those around me. It was the inevitable direction I had to go, and it felt right. It was a feeling that I had; I wanted something new.”
“I was excited to work with new people and enter a team that had struggled. Taking everything that I had learned and seeing if I could apply it somewhere else. I was excited by the plans I had heard were being put in place to scale up the team and going all in to become champions. I went with what I felt in my gut and in my heart. It led me to this amazing team and this incredible journey we are on.”
"So many people told me it was wrong" - Lewis Hamilton on his move to Mercedes in 2013
Mercedes finished fifth in the 2012 constructors' standings, with 142 points — 236 points behind McLaren and 318 behind top-ranked Red Bull Racing. The Silver Arrows didn't look like a team that would dominate the sport, which left many questioning why Lewis Hamilton was making the move.
Speaking about how his decision shocked most of the F1 fraternity, Hamilton recalled:
"So many people told me it was wrong. I knew that if I didn't make the move though, I would have regretted it. I didn't have any second thoughts...although I do remember around Christmas sitting outside in the cold looking over the snowy mountains thinking: 'Shoot! I hope I've made the right decision.'
"I had a moment of reflection and thought: 'We've done it so we're going to give it everything.' I focused on training the best I could and bringing the best I could to the Team. I also thought about how great it would be to get a win in that first season - something we managed to achieve."