crankandpiston.com hits Abu Dhabi for the unveiling of the ‘new’ Mercedes-AMG A45 World Champion Edition and a few words from Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton
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Barring a trio of victories for Ferrari in Malaysia, Hungary and Singapore, Mercedes-AMG has had it all its own way in Formula 1 this year, securing its second consecutive Constructor’s Championship, a second Driver’s Championship on the bounce for Lewis Hamilton, and the runners-up spot for teammate Nico Rosberg. So naturally, it was only a matter of time before Mercedes unveiled a limited edition celebratory road car, in this instance, the A 45 4MATIC World Champion Edition.
No, if you even needed confirmation, there is no mechanical change under the surface, the 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder under the bonnet still kicking out 381hp for a 4.2 second 0-100kph time. The main ‘changes’ include polar silver metallic wrapping with green flicks – inspired by this year’s Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 W06 HYBRID – new front splitter and rear spoiler, and black highlights around the headlights. The green detailing continues on new 19in alloys. Inside, the ‘motorsport influence’ continues with green stitching around the seats, dash and steering wheel, a commemorative plaque, and green seatbelts. Prices start from 65,402 euros ($69K-ish) and only 250 examples will be sold.
Okay, we’re a little cynical: as good as the A 45 AMG is, the World Champion Edition – handsome as it may be – isn’t much to get excited about. Still, it’s not often crankandpiston.com gets to see a World Champion in the flesh, let alone a three-time winner. And whilst in Abu Dhabi for the unveiling, the Champ had one or two words to say…
Lewis, what do you contribute your success to this year?
“Just want to start off by saying sorry guys. You’re all dressed very fashionably, and I’ve come straight from the track! In terms of success, everything needs to come together. There’s over a 1000 people in my team, so naturally with all those guys working closely together to create the car that we have today, you can extract the very best from that. I mean, I’ve been driving for these guys now for three years, so quite a while now, and none of the results I have today would be possible without their efforts. There’s no doubt it has been THE best year of my career.
“It’s also really special because my number is 44, and you guys are celebrating the 44th national day, so that’s something to get excited about. Honestly today, I was thinking about where I can get a kandora!”
Most memorable moment for your career? Or a favourite track?
“Of this year, or in general?”
“Whoa, Jeez! I’ve been racing now for 22 years, so that’s a lot of races to consider…er…I mean, every race feels a little bit different, and every win feels different. I’m actually gunning for my 44th win this weekend. But every win has always felt different. Probably my favourite from this year was Austin, where I won the World Championship.
“Wins generally feel better for me when…I mean, starting first and finishing first is always good, but when you’ve started further behind, it always feels very satisfying. When I first started go-karting, we had no money and the kart was terrible. So we’d always start last, and I’d have to work my way up, which involved a lot of overtaking. And that’s what I enjoy the most. And that still stands today. The problem with F1 is that it is still quite difficult to overtake, so there are some circuits where you definitely don’t want to be further back.”
It’s the last race of a very successful season for you. What are your thoughts ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
“Generally in all the countries you go to, you arrive and you’re working. So I arrived last night, went straight to the circuit, and didn’t finish until around midnight. And that’s generally how it is. But it’s a beautiful place, the weather is always great…I mean, as a driver, probably everybody loves Monaco, but we look forward to this race because it’s like a holiday! My mum is coming out this weekend too.”
You’ve already secured the championship this season, but is the drive still there to win races?
“It is, yes. There’s been a lot of talk recently that since I won the championship, I’ve not been as motivated. And that’s just not the case. Since I was a kid, I’ve always been super competitive, so when I land at the next race, I still want to win. I mean, I wanted to be the first person to win the Mexican Grand Prix in 23 years, and in Brazil last time out, I’ve never won there, and I’m dying to do that. So I still have that motivation, and I’m here to set that record straight!
“We’ve actually changed the car. In Singapore we had a really bad race, we didn’t really understand it, the engineers did their analysis, and we made some changes. The car has been different since then and I haven’t enjoyed it as much. But still, three out of the last five, so…”
How do you feel after winning a second World Championship?
“In a row…[cue laughter from the crowd]…well, since I started out all those years, I started watching with dad at the weekend and I wanted to be like Ayrton Senna. The guy won three World Championships, and I always thought, if I made it to F1, it would be great if I could do something similar. To think that today, I’ve reached the same level in terms of wins and championships…still chasing him for poles, I think he had 65 and I’m trailing on 50! So that was the dream, and now I feel like I’m in discovery mode. I didn’t think I’d ever achieve this, and I still have a good few years left, so what’s my next target? What do I gun for next? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.”
Was Ayrton the one who inspired you to start racing?
“As a driver, yes. He was the guy that I remember watching with my dad, and he was the guy I wanted to be like. But my dad was my mentor. He was the guy who really made it all possible for me to be here today. We sacrificed everything – he had four jobs at one stage – and we were racing against kids which had all the money. So we had less, but we did more with it. And I carry those memories with me today, which enables me to give back what I have.”
Let’s hope you can give him another race victory in Abu Dhabi…