Hamilton relaxed despite mentor's departure

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Lewis Hamilton insists the tag of world champion has allowed him to relax heading into the new Formula One season.

Hamilton will take to the wheel of McLaren's new challenger, the MP4-24 that was unveiled today at the team's Technology Centre in Woking, for the first time on Wednesday at the Algarve Motor Park.



That will be 81 days after he was crowned F1 king, taking the title in dramatic circumstances on the final lap of the last race in Brazil.



In some respects, the wraps coming off the car were overshadowed by the announcement of Ron Dennis that he is to step down as team boss on 1 March, allowing long-time right-hand man and CEO Martin Whitmarsh to take up the reins.



Dennis is adamant he is not retiring, and will instead be focusing more of his time and efforts on other projects within the company.



The 61-year-old will still be attending grands prix, although with Whitmarsh making the final decision on matters.



It ensures a degree of continuity, and so little will change behind the scenes so far as Hamilton is concerned in his bid to attempt to retain the championship he won by a single point from Felipe Massa.



"I don't think there is any added pressure just because I'm now world champion," insisted Hamilton.



"In fact, I feel more relaxed going into the season simply because I'm coming off a great season.



"It is like when you go from race to race in that when you win one race, at the next you've extra confidence.



"I feel I have reset my goals, and reset my targets back to when I started in Formula One in that I want to be world champion.



"I don't sit here saying 'I am world champion'. I sit here saying 'I want to be world champion'."



Such an ambition is undoubtedly going to be more difficult for the 24-year-old this season than for past champions due to the raft of new regulations imposed for the coming campaign.



The revamped aerodynamics, with a wider front wing and raised rear to aid overtaking, the new kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), a return to slick tyres, and a ban on in-season testing, ensure the teams head into the year facing the unknown.



No one is sure as to who will have made the most of the new rules, with Hamilton adding: "Because we have a completely new car, a new package, I've sat down more with the engineers of late.



"It is like the preparation I had for 2007. I am understanding the differences in the suspension, KERS and all the safety aspects.



"But also the vital few tests we have, I have like only seven days in the car, and so we are going to make sure we really extract the most from those days.



"Hopefully we don't have any reliability problems, and we have been very, very fortunate in the past.



"In two years we have not had any reliability issues, so I am confident the team have done a great job."



The one area in which Hamilton feels he can improve is by making less mistakes, such as running into the back of Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane in Montreal last season.



"I analysed the mistakes I made last year, for example in Montreal with the pit lane light," remarked Hamilton.



"Every time I now go down the pit lane I am always looking out for the light. You just have to learn from the previous experiences.



"I am sure there will be some experiences this year that will take you by surprise, and you are always learning. I am sure the oldest man in the world is still learning today.



"We just have to make sure we try to prepare ourselves in advance and try and avoid any mistakes."



Mentor Dennis, though, will now only be flitting in and out of the F1 picture over the coming years.



However, Dennis' decision allowed Hamilton to offer his thanks to a man who gave him his opportunity in the sport, and has nurtured him since the age of 13.



"Ron is a huge part of the team," remarked Hamilton.



"He has racing in his blood, so he will never leave. He will always play a part, and I will always remain close to him.



"I've known him since I was 10. We have a great relationship, and he has made a huge impact on my life - and he still does today - and we are great friends.



"But the great thing is we have great people in the team. It is a huge team, and we are very powerful together.



"It is not as if we are going to struggle. We are very fortunate that we will stay a strong team."



Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot