“It’s strange to think that this is only the start of my second season at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, because I’ve felt so comfortable since joining the team last January.

“Even so, I’d still consider 2010 something of a building year, albeit, with two victories, a pretty solid one! For the new season, I’ve not only got a year’s Vodafone McLaren Mercedes experience under my belt, but I’ve also been able to offer input into the design and development of the new car – something that I was naturally unable to do last year.

“Now I really feel I know how Vodafone McLaren Mercedes goes racing, and I’ll be driving a car that’s been fully developed around Lewis and myself – that’s a very empowering feeling.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to drive the new car for the first time. Our pre-season simulations suggests that the new Pirelli tyres should be well-suited to my particular driving style, so I’m hopeful of being able to derive a good advantage from the tyres during the races.

“Today really marks the beginning of our 2011 season after what seems a very long time away from the track. It’s been a really exciting event for all the fans who attended, and now I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of MP4-26 for the first time next week.”