F1

Lewis Hamilton says taking part in his last Mercedes car launch ‘surreal’

Hamilton, who joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013, won six of his record-equalling seven world championships with the Silver Arrows.

Lewis Hamilton is entering his final year with Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton Lewis Hamilton is entering his final year with Mercedes (Tim Goode/PA)

Lewis Hamilton said it felt “surreal” to be taking part in the final car launch of his Mercedes career.

Speaking publicly for the first time since his blockbuster move to Ferrari for 2025 was confirmed, Hamilton, 39, said: “(The last few weeks) have obviously been emotional and it is very surreal to be here.

“The focus through the whole of winter training is getting the team back to where we once were.

“We have had these difficult couple of years which have been really grounding for us. It has helped us regroup and really look at things.”

Team principal Toto Wolff, standing alongside his soon-to-be departing star driver, added: “It has been a very busy winter. It will be our last season with Lewis so we are keen on bringing a quick car.”

Hamilton, who joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013, won six of his record-equalling seven world championships with the Silver Arrows.

He signed a two-year contract extension with Mercedes only last August, but over the winter he stunned the sporting world by electing to end his deal 12 months early and join Ferrari.

Hamilton, who fielded just three questions from the Mercedes moderator during a brief nine-minute launch, added: “I came here in 2013 so 11 years with the team and now I am starting my 12th.

“It is such a privilege to work with a group of people where you see the work they do over the winter and you see a car come together at the beginning of the year and it is the most exciting part of the season.”

Hamilton, without a win in two years, and team-mate George Russell, will get their first taste of this season’s Mercedes during a shakedown test at a wet Silverstone on Wednesday.

Hamilton added: “We have to be diligent, maximise practice and even one lap, George and I might get in the rain today will give us a feeling of what is to come.”

Mercedes once dominated the sport, winning an unprecedented eight constructors’ championships.

However, last year marked a second straight season without a victory for Hamilton – a losing streak which now stands at 45 races – and Mercedes’ first winless campaign in a dozen years. They finished an eye-watering 413 points behind Red Bull.

“This is a complete relaunch of a car,” added Wolff. “It is very different, not only on the aerodynamic front, but mainly underneath.

“There are so many mechanical changes which we hope will translate into more performance, more predictability and a car the drivers can really push.

“The most important thing is to look inward, and what is it that we got wrong? We found some clues, we tried to eliminate as many variables as we could, and the buzz in the company is something I have not seen for so many years.

“We know it is a big mountain to climb because if a team is so far ahead like Red Bull were last year that is not easy. But we have a superb driver combination and hopefully a fast car. There are some good ingredients to be back at the front again.”

The sole pre-season test gets under way in Bahrain on February 21, ahead of the opening race, also in the Gulf kingdom, on March 2.