Emotional Lewis Hamilton insists he is "very, very happy" with decision to join Mercedes
Lewis responds after Martin Whitmarsh cast doubts on move
By Pete Gill and James Galloway
Last Updated: 16/11/12 3:50pm
With Hamilton's time at McLaren almost over, team boss Martin Whitmarsh opined last week that his former protégé was likely to have, "on occasion", regretted his decision to join Mercedes given their sharp decline in form over the last six weeks.
Hamilton, though, continues to insist that he had no misgivings about his decision to sign a three-year deal with a team which has won just one grand prix in the last three years.
"I was a little bit surprised to hear that," Hamilton responded when, inevitably, he was asked about Whitmarsh's comments in Thursday's FIA press conference in Austin. "It's clearly not the case.
"I'm sure everyone has emotions in the team and of course it's quite emotional for me, but I'm very, very happy with the decision I've made."
Speaking to Sky Sports News' Craig Slater after his press conference appearance, the 2008 World Champion made his feelings on the issue even clearer.
"I don't have an ounce of regret, so it is incorrect," Hamilton told Craig.
"What I do have is a huge amount of love for the team [McLaren] so leaving is always a tough decision. These last couple of races, it's going to be tough, but I'm really happy that I've got a new challenge ahead of me.
"I've got to learn, get to grips with and build new relationships with people. Everyone does that in life and I don't know why I can't do that. But I don't have any doubts or regrets about it."
But for a series of mechanical failures on his MP4-27 over the course of the season, Hamilton would have surely approached the final races of his McLaren tenure - and the 2012 season - as a championship contender.
Yet if he feels any envy of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, the two remaining title challengers, it didn't show on Thursday when he addressed the press corps.
"It's amazing to see how much focus they have considering how much pressure is on - they are both World Champions and they both handle it without a problem," he commented.
"As for me, I'm happy just to be here for the last two races with my team."
Before he makes that departure, Hamilton has made clear his desire to add a 21st, and at least for now final, victory to his name as a McLaren driver after he was denied that success in Abu Dhabi courtesy of a fuel-pump failure.
Furthermore, it appears he wants to achieve that success by emerging on top in a wheel-to-wheel battle with the two title challengers.
"In the last race we were very competitive - I hope the same thing works out here and we can fight with those guys and have an actual race," Hamilton added when speaking to Sky Sports News.
"Sometimes you go through the season and maybe there's a few times you have a real race with the top drivers. I want to have a race with Fernando, I want to have a race with Sebastian, and dicing back and forth.
"Hopefully this weekend we will do that."