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Hamilton in McLaren career pledge

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Hamilton pledges future career to McLaren

By Andrew Benson
BBC Sport at the McLaren Technology Centre

World champion Lewis Hamilton says he intends to drive for the McLaren team for the rest of his Formula One career.

Hamilton made the pledge at a "welcome home" event staged by McLaren at their base in Woking, Surrey, on Wednesday.

"I'm with the team I've always dreamt of driving for, and I've got the car I always wanted - so why change?" said 23-year-old Hamilton.

"I don't know how long I'll be in F1 - but I want to see my career out with this team, and that's my plan."

Hamilton, who won his first world title in a nail-biting climax to Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, was welcomed at the McLaren Technology Centre by the team's 1,000-strong workforce, plus another 500 ancillary staff.

He drove his F1 car around the Norman Foster-designed building's ornamental lake, parked it outside the main entrance and entered to huge cheers from the McLaren staff and applause from the media.

Standing in front of a collection of the trophies McLaren have won during their 40 years in F1, he made a composed, eloquent speech to the employees and described how he had still not fully come to terms with the magnitude of his achievement.

I've been thinking about my time with McLaren, all the landmark moments, just the whole journey - I love this team, and I ain't going nowhere

Lewis Hamilton

A congratulatory message from The Queen was read out, and on the morning Barack Obama was elected the next President of the United States, Hamilton was asked about the historic parallels of two mixed-race men making such landmark achievements in their respective fields.

"I tried to watch it," he said. "I've got a huge amount of respect for both candidates and I'm very happy and proud to see Obama out front. Congratulations to him."

But he added that, like Obama, he did not see himself as a role model exclusively for minorities.

"I don't sit here and say I want to be an inspiration for one generation or race," he said.

"The great thing is it opens up doors for all groups anyone can get into it. I want to be as positive a role model as possible because I don't believe there are that many out there."

He added: "I never go around the track thinking I'm the only one here. We've always been well treated and well respected and I'm proud I have managed to achieve this."

Hamilton was joined at McLaren by his girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, singer with the pop group the Pussycat Dolls, who posed for photographs with McLaren employees.

He arrived back in Britain from Brazil on Tuesday morning, and said he had spent the intervening 24 hours laying low "at home" in Stevenage, Hertforshire, the town in which he grew up.

"My heart's still racing it hasn't really hit home yet," said Hamilton, whose career has been guided by McLaren since he was 12 years old.

"I'm out of breath. I can't believe there are so many people here. To know I have made so many people happy, I'm a bit overwhelmed.

Cheeky Hamilton asks for a pay-rise

"I've been thinking about my time with McLaren, all the landmark moments, just the whole journey. I love this team, and I ain't going nowhere.

"When I was 13, I went to the old headquarters [in another part of Woking] and I used to go to the museum and see the old cars.

"I used to touch Ayrton Senna's car and imagine what it would be like to drive it and be in his position.

"That day has come, and I'm very proud."

Hamilton acknowledged that he had made winning the title more difficult than it might have been this season by making too many mistakes.

606: DEBATE
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His error count was a stark contrast to his performance in his debut season last year, when he was virtually flawless until letting the title slip through his fingers in the final two races.

"It was easier to a certain extent last year. In the state of mind I was in, it was easier to just jump in the car and enjoy myself and go well and be consistent," he said.

"This year, new things kept coming out. I'd be leading a race and at the end of the pit lane everyone stopped or something. I haven't sat at traffic lights for a while.

"It's just something you have to deal with. Through life, I'm sure next year and the years to come I will make many more mistakes. It's how you learn from them and grow [that's important].

"I will analyse this year and really try next year to make less."

McLaren chief executive officer Martin Whitmarsh paid tribute to Hamilton's "humility, his character and his star quality.

"It's Lewis's championship and he is a true, true star."

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see also
Hamilton targets title hat-trick
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Schumacher praises Hamilton feat
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Last-gasp Hamilton takes F1 crown
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Ecstatic Hamilton revels in glory
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Glock helpless on Hamilton pass
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How will Hamilton's life change?
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Hamilton destined for greatness
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Reaction to Hamilton's F1 title
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Feeling the tension at Interlagos
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Rollercoaster race to the F1 crown
02 Nov 08 |  Motorsport
Hamilton's rise to the top
18 Jun 07 |  Motorsport


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