London: Lewis Hamilton says he intends to make Mercedes the most successful Formula One team of their era.
The former McLaren driver turned up for his first official day’s work at the Brackley-based team on Thursday and said: “When I walked in this morning I saw one small trophy cabinet on the right-hand side.
“I thought: ‘I want to build that cabinet out to fill the whole hallway.’ You can be good but I want to be great. This move is in the plan of trying to achieve that. It could end badly but it could end up in a good way. I want to make this the most successful team in F1.”
Hamilton, 28, surprised many observers when he turned his back on McLaren the team he had joined as a 13-year-old and who turned him into a world champion and moved to Mercedes, who have won one race since returning to the sport in 2010.
But Hamilton was in buoyant mood when he said: “The satisfaction of building a team from where it has been struggling to one day succeeding would be massive. Whether or not we get there remains to be seen.
“Every decision is a bit of a gamble. I could have stayed and just kept on winning races at McLaren. Most people just go for the easier route, which may be the way to go. I just want to try something different and I’m not scared of trying new things. Just really wanted a different experience.
“I’ve won one world championship. Can I win another? Sure, if I’ve got the car.
“I’m 28 I’ve got quite a lot of years left. I don’t plan going on like Michael [Schumacher, 44] but look at Mark Webber, who is 36. I hope I’ve still got a good 10 years left in me.”
Hamilton addressed his new team for the first time and said: “Everything feels really positive for me. The guys seem hungrier than any group of people I’ve seen before. They seem seriously hungry to win and excited they have another shot at it this year.”
But Hamilton is still expecting a difficult start to his new career. “It’s going to be a tough season, without a doubt. But you have got to remember that I had a couple of half-dodgy cars [at McLaren], one particular year, 2009. But it did get better so perseverance is going to be key for all of us.
“I hope to have quite a big impact in those first days of driving the car in testing because I’ll be able to compare one car to the other and say what we do and don’t have and what the car is and how it could be better.
“But it’s going to take some time to get up to speed with the controls and the different settings, characteristics, aero balance. I don’t know how long it will take but I’m on top of it. I’m ready.”