Hamilton says McLaren comeback ‘warms my heart’

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Lewis Hamilton says the resurgence of the McLaren Formula 1 team, the outfit that gave him his big break in the sport back in 2007 “warms” his heart.

After two successive years of unchallenged supremacy in F1 by Red Bull Racing, the competitive landscape is undergoing a transformation this season.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen enjoyed a flying start to his 2024 campaign, with back-to-back wins in Bahrain and in Saudi Arabia.

But in Melbourne, Red Bull was inflicted a clear-cut defeat by Ferrari and Carlos Sainz, while McLaren’s Lando Norris enjoyed an equally definite victory in Miami before finishing second, hot on Verstappen’s heels, in Imola.

Charles Leclerc’s home win in Monaco last weekend ahead of Oscar Piastri further demonstrated that the Scuderia and McLaren are now genuine forces to be reckoned with on Sundays at the head of the field.

Team papaya’s comeback has caught Hamilton’s eye, and witnessing his former team’s return to championship contender is a source of immense pride for the Briton who won with McLaren in 2008 the first of his seven world titles.

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"I think he [Norris] is doing a great job," said the Mercedes driver last weekend in Monaco. “Oscar [Piastri] is also doing a really great job as well.

“He's just been unlucky in the last couple of races. So excited to see both of them, and how they both progress, but mostly also for McLaren, to see them back up there.

“It warms my heart because I was there for such a long time [from 2007 to 2012] and they gave me my break. So it's cool.

“I hope we can get closer as well, I think they [McLaren] also have just shown that you can close the gap and you can catch up if the job's done right. It's inspired us all to get on it.”

Hamilton and Mercedes have found themselves on the back foot for the past two seasons. The once-dominant duo hasn't been able to consistently challenge for wins, with the Briton’s last victory a distant memory from late 2021 in Saudi Arabia.

Mercedes’ lack of competitiveness led the 39-year-old to embark on a new challenge, with a sensational move to Ferrari and a partnership with Charles Leclerc on the horizon.

Given these circumstances, it's no surprise that a win in 2024 with the Silver Arrows outfit seems like a long shot.

When asked about the possibility, Hamilton offered a realistic perspective.

"That's what we're working towards, but it's not realistic. I don't know how the year is going to evolve.

“If others plateau and don’t develop and we continue to develop, or if they develop at the same rate as us, I really have no idea, but what I can say is we’re continuing to push.

“I haven’t got a crystal ball so I have no idea how the year is going to end but in terms of how we are working together and how we are continuing to stay focused and motivated, I think that that's inspiring.”

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