Lewis Hamilton, 27, made his Formula 1 debut with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in 2007, immediately making headlines for his supremely assured blend of speed, wisdom and sheer audacity on the racetrack.
A world champion at the age of 23 and, uniquely, a race winner in all of his five Formula 1 seasons, Lewis remains one of the fastest, most gifted and compelling drivers in F1 history.
At the end of 2011, he threw himself into a series of intense preparations ahead of the new season, training at high altitude in Colorado and at home in Switzerland.
“The winter has been a great opportunity to recharge – I got away into the mountains, spent a lot of time hiking and running, improving my fitness and starting to prepare for the new year.
“It’s always great to get away from everything; change the scenery. And what’s great about Formula 1 is that you start each season with the baseline completely reset – everybody starts again from zero – and that always makes me so hungry.
“I’ve been keenly following the development of MP4-27 over the winter and I’ve been really encouraged by the results and the data that the engineers have been showing me. I think we already had a very strong base to build upon: Jenson and I won six races with MP4-26 last year and I think we’ve been able to retain all the strengths and the reliability of that design while also incorporating lots of improvements and new ideas into the new car.
“Of course, the biggest changes for 2012 are the modifications to the exhaust regulations – that will reduce the downforce and grip that we had last year, but it just puts the emphasis on the designers to try and claw some of that back in other areas.
“I get the feeling the MP4-27 is going to feel very new and exciting when we get to drive it for the first time.”