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Hamilton sees no risk in Mercedes move
Lewis Hamilton insists his move to Mercedes is not a gamble, despite admitting he will not be fighting for the Formula One title in 2013.
Hamilton, 27, will leave McLaren to join the German marque on a three-year contract at the end of 2012. But while McLaren have won 16 races over the last three campaigns, including three of the last four, Mercedes have only Nico Rosberg's victory in China earlier this year to show for their efforts during the same period.
However, when asked if he felt he had taken a risk to end his 14-year association with McLaren and join Mercedes from 2013, Hamilton said: "I don't. Not really. I've had such a great career with McLaren. I signed for McLaren when I was 13 and have had such an incredible journey with them."
He added: "But in the end I had two offers on the table which were very similar but one was a lot more exciting. It's just a challenge. I could stay in the great car that I have, which I've worked really hard to help develop with the team, or go to a car that's not so well developed and help it."
The reshuffle in driver line-ups, with Sauber's rising star Sergio Perez taking Hamilton's seat at McLaren and Michael Schumacher being forced out of Mercedes, is the talk of the paddock ahead of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.
"No doubt it was one of the most difficult decisions I've faced in my life up to now," Hamilton said. "I'd been thinking for quite some time about what I wanted to do with my future, where I want to go, It's easy staying in the same place, but going somewhere else and taking on a new challenge is sometimes maybe even more exciting."
The chance to try and mould a struggling team into title-winning shape, as Schumacher managed to such brilliant effect during his time at Ferrari, as well as an increase in freedom over Hamilton's image rights, were seemingly too good to turn down for the Briton and his management company XIX Entertainment.
It is understood Mercedes indicated to Hamilton they expect to take a major step forward in performance when new engine regulations are introduced in 2014. And Hamilton seemed to reflect that when he admitted he is looking towards the long-term when it comes to the target of bringing regular success to the Silver Arrows.
Asked if he felt he could battle for the title in 2013, Hamilton said: "No, I'm fully aware the car at the moment is not a world championship-winning car. The car that I'm in right now is a car that I've developed. Next year will be an evolution of the car that I've helped develop (at McLaren) and that will be a championship contender.
"But we (Mercedes) will work very, very hard to have a better year next year, but it takes time. You don't just arrive and things change. I think the focus is more long-term. If I can go there, help them progress, if we get some wins, if we eventually win the world championship - that's going to be an incredible feeling for all of us."