Lewis Hamilton says he is 'really, really wanted' at Mercedes

Former McLaren driver getting ready for first race of the season

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton is ready to make a big impact at Mercedes after admitting to enjoying being “somewhere you are really, really wanted”.

With the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne just six days away, the vibrancy and positivity exuding from Hamilton these days are unmistakable.

It is certainly in stark contrast to the gloomy persona that roamed the paddock in the weeks leading up to his announcement last September that he was quitting McLaren and moving to Mercedes.

There have been many question marks raised as to why Hamilton wanted to leave a team steeped in success and join a marque with just one win in the last three years since returning to Formula One.

Money, fewer sponsorship engagements and greater control over his image rights have all been mentioned, but it now appears clear Hamilton is also freer and far happier.

Asked whether he had made a big impact in his two months with the team, Hamilton replied: "I don't know, you'll have to ask some of the engineers or mechanics. I hope I've had a positive impact on them.

"There is a real positive feeling in the team. They've a great driver in Nico (Rosberg) and they worked with Michael Schumacher.

"So to work with another driver at the top is a definite positive for them.

"I've had comments from people who have told me 'We're really happy to have you in the team. It gives us a good boost'.

"So that's a great feeling for me to hear that. It's nice to be somewhere you are really, really wanted."

The suggestion is Hamilton's relationship with McLaren had grown stale bearing in mind he had been a part of the team for 14 years and with them in F1 for the last six of those.

At present, his experience with Mercedes is entirely new and fresh and that appears to be reinvigorating him as he has spoken of late of challenging Fernando Alonso and creating his own dynasty.

"When you first arrive at the team you have to sit back and listen and then you can take a judgment on what you think people are like and how good they are," added Hamilton, speaking to SkySportsF1.

"The guys are fantastic, with so much knowledge and experience and they are really hungry to succeed, which is great in engineers.

"Right now it's brand new. They do different things. From their previous experience of what their previous driver wanted, it's much different to what I've experienced or knew what I was able to have.

"So there are many more options I'm finding out and going 'Oh wow! I didn't know you could look at that in great detail', so I'm learning all these things which is great."

After a tough start to testing - his car suffered a rear-brake failure on the opening day in Jerez - the Mercedes since has raised eyebrows in the paddock with its performance.

There have been suggestions Mercedes and Hamilton could yet challenge for the title after all this season and not just be an also-ran.

Although the pecking order will not be determined until qualifying on Saturday at Albert Park, there is also a confidence within the team in contrast to the end of last season when they simply made up the numbers.

Asked as to the team's morale since the first test in Jerez, Hamilton said: "I've been told there's quite a big difference since the start of the year.

"I've seen the team grow in positivity as we have done the tests and they seem like a happy bunch of people anyway.

"I'm guessing team spirit is probably the team's biggest asset right now. There's a great spirit in the team.

"Being at McLaren it was difficult to see that from the outside until you get in and get involved.

"But there's a great atmosphere within the team and it's nice to be somewhere...it's nice to have a different feeling.

"They've not had all the glitz and glamour and great success, all the attention over the years, so they're hungry for that success, but in a really humble way which I quite like."