Lewis Hamilton ‘feels super’ ahead of new F1 season in ‘more beautiful, more powerful’ car

Lewis Hamilton says his Mercedes car bigger, more beautiful and more powerful than the one he won the world title with last year

Marianne Bevis

Lewis Hamilton, one of the nominees for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, has told Laureus.com in an exclusive interview that he will go into Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix with a Mercedes AMG Petronas car that is “bigger, more beautiful and more powerful” than the one he drove to his second straight Formula 1 World Championship in 2015.

Hamilton, a three-time world champion, is among six British nominations in this year’s “sporting Oscars” and aiming to win his second trophy: He also won the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award in 2008.

As he prepared to defend his Drivers’ Championship in Melbourne, he also talked about his own fitness, and the particular challenges of the coming season.

“I feel super. I feel younger than I’ve ever been, to be honest. I got back in the car and it was super-easy. The car feels great. The way it’s evolved, it’s another step, it’s the big sister of last year’s car.

“I think there are a lot of challenges this year. One, the season’s longer, two, the other teams are getting closer, if not with us or ahead of us maybe, we don’t know yet, and the challenge is trying to raise your bar and be better. When you look at a season like last year, it’s the best year we’ve ever had, and so how do you beat that? After 2014, we didn’t think we could beat that, and then 2015 we did.”

So what were the highlights in that 2015 season?

“The whole year was a highlight. I enjoyed every single race; the way it started out until the end. I think naturally the race in Austin [where he clinched the world championship] was the highlight, just the way it unfolded, the way it happened, with the weather, going up and down. You know what I love about racing is the uncertainty of the outcome.”

The Mercedes Formula 1 team has also been nominated for the Laureus Team of the Year Award, having won the Constructors’ Championship in 2015. Hamilton went on to talk of his long relationship with the team.

“I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13. It’s a long, long time. I’ve been with Mercedes definitely longer than most drivers and it’s been a privilege to see Mercedes evolve, see the success over those years, and now to be a part of that success and to see them constantly evolving, innovating, moving forward. You travel the globe and see Mercedes Benz in every corner of the world, in every street: then to know that you are one of their representatives, it’s very cool.

Head of Mercedes Motorsport Toto Wolff added: “In testing, you never quite know where your competitors are. Melbourne is going to give us a first indication of whether we’ve done a good enough job or not.”

The Laureus Awards ceremony takes place in Berlin on 18 April.

The other British nominees include:

· GB Davis Cup Team, headed by Andy Murray;

· Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill;

· Swimmer Adam Peaty;

· Mountain bike world champion Rachel Atherton;

· Boxer Tyson Fury.

In the Sportsman of the Year category, Hamilton is up against:

· Usain Bolt, Athletics: Won three sprint gold medals in World Championships;

· Stephen Curry, Basketball: Led Golden State Warriors to NBA championship;

· Novak Djokovic, Tennis: World No1 won three Grand Slams and was finalist at French Open;

· Lionel Messi, Football: Won record fifth Ballon d’Or;

· Jordan Spieth, Golf: At 21, won The Masters and US Open to become world No1.

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