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Motorsport | Formula 1

Hamilton could face Mercedes hangover



Lewis Hamilton thoroughly enjoyed victory at the United States Grand Prix, and unless he does it again on Sunday in Brazil he may not climb a Formula One podium for a while.

Hamilton, 27, leaves McLaren, where he spent the first six years of his F1 career, for Mercedes on a three-year contract from 2013 until 2015.

But despite a victory from Nico Rosberg early in the season the German marque has fallen short of the expectations and is no real challenger for top placings.

While Hamilton hunted down championship leader Sebastian Vettel to get his fourth season win on Sunday in Texas, the Mercedes pair of Rosberg and retirement-bound Michael Schumacher gave an indication what Hamilton may have to face next year when they placed outside the points in 13th and 16th place, respectively.

Rosberg is ninth in the overall standings and Schumacher 15th while Hamilton ranks fourth with a chance to finish the season third place if he makes up 16 points on Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen in Brazil.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh suggested ahead of the US race that Hamilton may already be regretting his move to Mercedes, the former partners of McLaren and still their engine suppliers.

But Hamilton said when the deal was announced in late September that he hoped to take Mercedes to new heights, a feat the German team failed to achieve with Schumacher who came out of retirement to join them in 2010.

"It is now time for me to take on a fresh challenge and I am very excited to begin a new chapter racing for the Mercedes team," said Hamilton, who takes Schumacher's place at Mercedes.

"Together, we can grow and rise to this new challenge. I believe that I can help steer the Silver Arrows to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning the world championships."

Hamilton is an ex-champion from 2008 and has 21 race wins, all at McLaren with whom he has been associated since the age of 13. It could have been even more success had he not fallen victim to his temper every now and then, or being forced to retire with technical problems while leading a race twice this season.

On Sunday Hamilton was jumping up and down with joy and Whitmarsh was also more than impressed with his driver.

"Lewis was in supreme command: right on the limit yet in total control, the man of the match at his brilliant best," Whitmarsh said.

Hamilton was over the moon to have won in the return to the US just as in the previous US race 2007 in Indianapolis.

"What made the difference...between Seb and me? I wanted it more, that's what!" said Hamilton.

Whether or not sheer willpower will also be enough to win podiums for Mercedes remains to be seen although his future teammate Rosberg said that "we have learnt a few important lessons for next year."

Hamilton will aim to do well again in Brazil on Sunday in his McLaren farewell although he and all others will be in the shadow of the title showdown between Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

"It's excitement that we have a good car and hopefully we can try to compete again with these guys. I'm obviously not fighting for the championship. It's maybe more exciting for these guys (Vettel, Alonso) but for me, I'm just having fun," Hamilton said.

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