Hamilton says he hopes to drive for McLaren for rest of his career
WOKING, England -- Lewis Hamilton thanked McLaren personnel for helping him become Formula One's youngest champion, saying he plans to spend the rest of his career with the team.
The 23-year-old Briton drove around the lake at McLaren's technology center Wednesday in an F1 car and received a big ovation from many of the 1,000 employees.
Hamilton, who has a $120 million, five-year contract with McLaren, said he couldn't envision driving for another team.
"It's easy," he said. "I'm with the team I've always dreamed of being with, and if you have the car of your dreams, then why would you want to leave? The day I get in the car and don't have the motivation, maybe that's the time to get out. But I want to see my career out with this team."
Hamilton's visit came the same day he received a congratulatory message from Queen Elizabeth II. He returned to Britain after finishing fifth in the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, taking the season title by one point ahead of race winner Felipe Massa of Ferrari.
"We have proved to everyone that we are the best team and we have the best car," said Hamilton, who is F1's first black champion. "We have been under so much pressure and we have lost together and won together, and this weekend we have won the world championship."
Hamilton shook hands and posed for pictures with employees amid a shower of confetti. His father, Anthony, and pop singer girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger also attended the event.
"These trophies are a result of all your hard work and you should pat yourselves on the back," Hamilton said. "I love this team. I'm not going anywhere."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press