Lewis Hamilton says he hopes McLaren’s switch to Mercedes power next year brings them into championship contention with his team and Red Bull.
At the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Lando Norris qualified within two tenths of a second of Max Verstappen’s pole position time and both Mercedes drivers. Speaking after qualifying, Hamilton said that he relished the sight of his former team McLaren in the fight for the top grid spots.
“I’m really happy to see the McLaren so close, particularly with how they’ve got changes and they’re using our engine next year,” he said.
“It’s great to see that at the end of the year with a good car so that they can perhaps be in the fight with us next year. If that makes it a three-way team championship, I think that would be amazing for the fans to see.”
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl is encouraged by their first steps with their new engine supplier.
“In terms of the co-operation we have for the partnership with Mercedes it started really very well, straight from the first meeting onwards,” he said. “It’s a very open co-operative partnership.”
The two have a long history of working together. McLaren were powered by Mercedes between 1995 and 2014, and were their factory team for much of that time.
“The guys in Brixworth are very, very experienced,” said Seidl. “There’s also obviously a lot of history between the guys in Brixworth and McLaren, which helped us to get going again,” he said.
“But it is also clear that it is a different partnership compared to the past. There’s a Mercedes works team in Formula 1 and we are a customer but I’m very happy with everything I’ve seen so far.
“The integration of Mercedes power unit is going really well and I’m sure we will be in good shape next year from the first race onwards.”
Read Dieter Rencken’s analysis of what McLaren’s new £185 million investment means for the team in this week’s RacingLines column
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