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?
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power