Lewis Hamilton is confident that he can help build a winning car at Mercedes next year – even though he is a driver better known for his sheer speed than his technical input.
After crashing out of his final race with McLaren here on Sunday – he was leading the race when shunted by Force India's Nico Hülkenberg – Hamilton said: "I have no doubts in my mind that I can win a lot more races.
"Going to Mercedes, I have just got a lot of work to do to help mould them into a winning team and I believe they have the potential. That is why I made the decision. I am going to mould that car to how I like it."
When reminded that his gifts were more instinctive than technical, he replied: "I guarantee you that is not the case. I don't need to blow smoke up my own arse. I know what I am capable of, although it won't take a major effect until halfway through next season, although more so with the car for 2014. It just means I have to cram a lot into a short space of time. I don't have a problem with that."
Hamilton and McLaren are certain to miss each other next year. Hamilton, surely, will have a less competitive car to drive while McLaren, unusually, will not be able to call on the services of any of the leading three drivers in Formula One.
Hamilton added: "In my heart I feel like I am going to miss them. I don't know how much they are going to miss me. I guess time will tell."
Jenson Button, whose chances of becoming a double or even triple champion have been greatly enhanced by Hamilton's departure from McLaren, said after his third victory of the season here on Sunday: "To end the season with a win is fantastic and bodes well for 2013. It is a great way to go into a long winter and develop the new car. It shows we are in a very good position with the car. This has not been our year. I've had some tricky races as well.
"The three wins have been phenomenal. One at the start, one at the end and one in the middle, it was very exciting.
"It was a pity that Lewis was not on the podium as well. We had a good fight out there, especially over the first 10 laps.
"We were racing wheel to wheel, it was tough but there was real respect between team-mates. It's sad that he's leaving but I wish him well."
Button's victory on Sunday means that in his three years at McLaren he has outscored the more fancied Hamilton by 15 points.
"I wanted to beat him when he was my team-mate. Mercedes are getting a very quick driver and he is going to help them, but they have a big job on their hands.
"I hope that one day we will be racing again wheel to wheel. I look forward to that challenge."
Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal, said of Hamilton: "Not to peer through his visor in Melbourne just before the start of a race, which I've been doing since GP2, will be a strange experience.
"I might just nip down and – hopefully not upsetting Mercedes – do it anyway.
"Of course it's emotional, he's been here for many, many years. I'm very sad about it.
"I've known him personally for over 15 years, and seen him through some great, great moments. He's a great human being, a great asset for any team.
"We are very, very sad to see him go but we wish him well and will be watching with interest."
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