LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton has made his move before the start of the Formula One season and can now call Monaco a home race as well as his favourite grand prix.
McLaren’s 2008 world champion has left Switzerland, his home for the past few years, for a new base in the Mediterranean principality where he will have several F1 drivers as neighbours.
“I just fancied a change,” the 27-year-old told British reporters, adding that he had moved in “a week or so ago”.
“It was a bit boring where I was living before, not many people around, so it was good to move,” added the Briton, who had lived most recently in Zurich after a spell in Geneva.
”Where I’ve moved to there are quite a lot of people that I know there, quite a lot of the drivers are there. So there’s a bit more of a social life, there’s better weather, it’s by the sea, overall just a bit better.
“It’s kind of cool that you get to be at home whilst a grand prix is going on. I think it will be pretty neat,” said the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix winner and 2007 runner-up.
”I can meet up with quite a few of the drivers if I want to do training, and my trainer is also just up the road. I’ve settled down quite well there.
“I still have loads of boxes to unpack, but I‘m sure I can get someone to do that for me.”
Hamilton limbered up for the season, which starts in Melbourne next week, by driving reporters around a track in southern England in McLaren’s fearsome MP4-12C GT3 race-spec sportscar.
He looked sharp, hungry to be back behind the wheel and determined to focus on the future.
The championship opens with four long-haul races but the Briton, who had a nightmare season last year while trying to keep alive a transatlantic relationship with American singer Nicole Scherzinger, intends to be more settled in 2012.
He said he now planned to spend much more of his time at home when in Europe.
Hamilton won three races last year but ended up beaten overall by team mate Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, in a championship dominated by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
Testing times can be misleading but the title battle already looks like being much tighter with McLaren, who were playing catch-up this time last year, looking quick and tipped to take the battle to Red Bull right from the start.
Hamilton was clearly pleased with how the winter tests in Spain had gone.
“I kept a nice amount of fuel in the car for all of my tests. I wasn’t really bothered with positioning. What matters is when we get to the first race,” he smiled.
”It looks like it could be a bit different to the past couple of years where we’ve had the Red Bull just much quicker than everyone else.
“The Lotus looks like it can be really quick, a couple of the teams have different exhaust solutions. Us, Ferrari and Red Bull generally have a similar exhaust solution. The others, like the Lotus have a different solution, so do Mercedes and they still seem to be quick,” he added.
“So it will be a battle as to which of those designs has the longest road of development, and how far ours can go.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)