Lewis Hamilton has admitted he is not expecting to win next year’s world championship.
“Absolutely not,” he told British reporters in Japan, six races before he leaves McLaren in order to join Mercedes for 2013 and beyond. “And I don’t even expect to win races,” the 2008 world champion said, referring to his impending first season in a new shade of silver.
Hamilton insists he has already accepted that winning with Mercedes is a long-term project that will mean he might not see the top step of the podium for some time.
“That was one of the things I had to get my head around very early on when I was considering whether to join Mercedes,” he said.
“I’m looking at the long term. It’s 2014-15 when I anticipate we will have most success.”
Hamilton said ‘setting the bar’ at a low point initially will mean the pressure on him is also lower.
“It (the pressure) is not going to be high on me, that’s for sure,” said the 27-year-old.
A common interpretation in the F1 paddock at present is that Hamilton sees Mercedes as a good bet for the future due to the radical engine rules change for 2014.
He is reportedly hoping that the fact Mercedes is producing its own turbo V6 will be an advantage when, in 2014, McLaren will only receive the engine as a customer.
“We have a one team policy, a one team principle,” Mercedes’ Ross Brawn admitted at Suzuka.
“Our staff at Brixworth (engine) and Brackley (car) work together as one entity and that does bring them closer than can be achieved with a customer, but McLaren are an extremely professional customer,” he said.
“Our ambition is to have the best engine in 2014 and McLaren will have that engine as well.”