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LEWIS HAMILTON hit the brakes as soon as he started work on his first official day at Mercedes yesterday.
He was only walking into the entrance hall when he was pulled up short by the size of the trophy cabinet for a team that has won only one race since they returned to F1 three seasons ago.
Not too big, he thought, too small – and not much silverware in there either.
“Maybe they’ve got trophies elsewhere but you walk in and there is one small collection,” he said:
“As I came in I thought, ‘I want to build that cabinet out to fill the hallway’.”
Hamilton was used to winning at McLaren. In six seasons he won 21 grands prix, took 25 poles and capped it all with the 2008 world championship.
He left the paddock gobsmacked by even thinking about leaving McLaren, but insists it will be more of a challenge to fight his way back to the top.
His new team are even said to be thinking of dumping team boss Ross Brawn, who guided Michael Schumacher to seven world titles.
Brawn is reportedly under threat from Hamilton’s old McLaren engineering guru Paddy Lowe.
But yesterday the Brit racer again defended his switch and believes Brawn will stay in charge. He said: “As far as I’m aware there are no plans to bring Paddy here.
“I’ve been assured by Ross that his commitment is for the long term and he is here to try to win with me. That gives me a positive feeling going forward.
“Every decision is a bit of a gamble. I could have stayed and just kept on winning races at McLaren.
“Most people go for the easier route, which may be the way to go. But I want to try something different and I’m not scared of trying new things. I’ve been through all the racing categories in good teams and did the job.
“The exciting thing here, if it goes the way I hope, will be to start with a team that doesn’t have years of winning multiple championships behind it, or that big history, and to make it great.
“It feels like there is a new history to be created at Mercedes. The satisfaction of building a team from where it has been struggling to one day succeeding would be massively satisfying.
“People will see me in a car that’s not as dominant as those I was in previously, and they will see how I handle it. Time will tell how I do.
“But part of this move is about achieving that next step. You can be good but I want to be great. It could end badly but it could end up in a good way.”