OCTOBER 4, 2012
Hamilton: I was swinging like a pendulum
Lewis Hamilton, opening up for the first time about his decision to join Mercedes, says he made his mind up in the days after Singapore, while In Thailand. He admits that the period was "very, very stressful" and that his call to McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is the most difficult he has ever had to make.
Hamilton spoke to the British media in Tokyo before heading for Suzuka for this weekend's Japanese GP.
Hamilton revealed that Whitmarsh had been pushing him to renew his contract since March last year.
"It was a bit like a pendulum," he admitted. "One moment I thought, 'let's go for it' and the next I would think 'I'm going to stay.'
"I got to Thailand and it was incredibly peaceful. I just sat by the pool and thought for several hours. It was important to do it on my terms. I wasn't going to be pushed or rushed. It was really, really tough but once I'd made the decision I was much more relaxed.
"I could have stayed and it would have been easy. I had two offers on the table which were very similar. One had slightly fewer PR days but it was not about the offer. Martin asked me what more they (McLaren) could have done. I said, 'to ne honest Martin, it's about the challenge. It's a step that I want to make."
The 1996 world champion Damon Hill has expressed the view that Hamilton had been "managed to within an inch of his life" at McLaren and various other ex-drivers have suggested that Hamilton needed to make the move from the team that has nurtured him since a teenager, in order to grow.
Hamilton was just 11 when Michael Schumacher left Benetton after back-to-back world titles to join Ferrari. There were other factors at work then, but the 2008 champion seems to identify with the challenge of trying to galvanise Mercedes into a winning team.