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Lewis Hamilton on 'dream' to take Mercedes back to F1 summit in final season at team ahead of Ferrari switch

Lewis Hamilton "most motivated and focused I've ever been" as he targets a strong final Mercedes season; Sky F1 podcast panel discuss what Lewis' final season at team might be like; watch pre-season testing live from Wednesday at 7am on Sky Sports F1

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Martin Brundle gives his view on what we can expect from Lewis Hamilton's final season at Mercedes and why he may look to bring some familiar faces with him to Ferrari.

Lewis Hamilton has described it as being "the greatest honour" if he was able to help take Mercedes back to the top of Formula 1 in his final season at the team before moving to Ferrari.

Speaking in an interview released by Mercedes from their Silverstone car launch Hamilton said: "I feel the most motivated and focused I've ever been.

"I mean every year you come back and you're like 'I'm fitter than ever' and all these different things but I genuinely feel I've put more work and more time and more focus into preparation this year.

"I never thought that at this point in my life that I would have hunger like I do right now and to finish on a high with this team, it would be a dream.

"We've gone through a whole heap together so to finish on a high it would be the greatest honour to be able to help them to get back to the top."

After briefly driving the team's all-new W15 for the first time in a shakedown at a wet Silverstone after its launch last week, Hamilton's 12th and final season at Mercedes will begin in earnest this week with three days of pre-season in Bahrain on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday - live on Sky Sports F1 from 7am each day.

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Hamilton and Mercedes have cemented their places in record books during an astonishing partnership since the Briton joined the team from McLaren in 2013, with the 39-year-old becoming statistically the most successful driver of all time.

But they now enter a 24-race new season with the unusual situation of already knowing they are going their separate ways in 10 months' time. Ferrari face the same scenario with Carlos Sainz, who Hamilton will replace.

In the latest edition of the Sky Sports F1 podcast after the completion of the car launches, Martin Brundle said: "I have no doubt he will give it absolutely everything he's got until the last lap of the last race in Abu Dhabi for Mercedes-Benz.

"He will be wearing those overalls, holding that steering wheel, representing 1,500 people. If everybody is smart in that, and I think they are all very smart people, and they have had such a wonderful relationship together, I think they will see it as a farewell tour.

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Watch as Mercedes' new W15 car hits the track for the first time at a wet Silverstone with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

"I think that's how they should and will treat it, and then wish him farewell and hope that he loses in a Ferrari!"

But Brundle also believes the impending split means will inevitably mean that, at some point in the year, Ferrari-bound Hamilton will have to be exempt from certain meetings related to the future with team-mate George Russell the only one staying on at Brackley into 2025.

"You've got this transition point where Lewis will stop being invited to meetings, will not understand what's going on with development of the car in the simulator, and the team consciously, subconsciously will favour George, they've got to."

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The Sky Sports F1 podcast panel discuss what their reactions were to Lewis Hamilton moving to Ferrari and the logistics behind the shock switch.

Simon Lazenby, who joined Brundle and Rachel Brookes on the podcast alongside host Matt Baker, said: "The thing is with Lewis is it's an exceptional case, isn't it?"

"At the end of the day, it's Lewis, and Lewis has brought everything to Mercedes therefore they kind of do owe him a little bit.

"I think they owe him everything really and they probably owe him the respect that he deserves to treat him like the great champion that he is for the time that he has remaining at Mercedes.

"Martin's right, and he'll know more because he has driven in the sport, has been around it and knows when they switch off the information to the outgoing driver, but as far as he [Hamilton] is concerned… it's about how he'll get through the season, he'll know early on whether he has got a car to compete for the championship and that could be the key.

"If he does, they'll have to rally around whoever is the best driver again."

Image: Watch all three days of pre-season testing this week from Wednesday live on Sky Sports F1

When is F1 pre-season testing?

Pre-season testing takes place from Wednesday February 21 to Friday February 23 at the Bahrain International Circuit with just three days for the teams to get prepared for the new season.

Watch the daily track action live each day from 7am on Sky Sports F1, with a Testing Wrap and Ted's Testing Notebook following at the end of each day from 8pm.

When is the first F1 race?

Just one week later, the opening race of the 2024 season will begin with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29 to March 2.

Due to the Muslim holy period of Ramadan, the Bahrain and, seven days later, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, will be held on a Saturday.

This means practice one and two will take place on Thursdays, with final practice and qualifying on Fridays.

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Watch pre-season testing from Bahrain live on Sky Sports F1 from February 21-23 and every round of the new season, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29-March 2. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership

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