SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton has told his McLaren Formula One team to expect him back despite his move to Mercedes next season - but only for dinner.
The 2008 world champion will say an emotional farewell to the team that gave him his F1 debut in 2007, and has backed him since he was in his early teens, after Sunday’s season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Briton told reporters at the Interlagos circuit on Thursday that he would leave with the best of memories.
”I only have good memories,“ he said. ”I leave with just the greatest memories, the best experiences and hopefully a lot of good friends that I will continue to be friends with throughout the future.
“Even though I will be with Mercedes, I probably will keep coming back to have lunch and dinner back at the hospitality because the food’s great there,” he grinned. “I hope the Mercedes’ hospitality lives up to the one we have.”
Hamilton’s meal plans are unlikely to be much more than wishful thinking, however, with teams frowning on their drivers fraternising too much with rivals in a sport where technical secrets are closely guarded.
The McLaren driver arrived at Interlagos on the back of a U.S. Grand Prix victory at the new Austin circuit in Texas and is looking to wrap up his McLaren years with another win at the circuit where he won his title.
“Brazil has been the scene of some epic races for me during my time at McLaren and, for many reasons, this weekend will be a very big race for me,” Hamilton said in a preview of the race.
“I nearly won the title here in 2007, clinched it on the final turn in 2008 and drove like crazy to finish on the podium in 2009,” added the 27-year-old. “But I’ve never won and that’s what I’ll be aiming to do this time around.”
Hamilton could yet play a big part in deciding the title outcome, particularly if he stays ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who must get on the podium to have any hope of taking a third championship.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel is 13 points clear of the Spaniard and need finish only fourth to be sure of his third title in a row. (Editing by Clare Fallon)