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Dennis did not try to prevent Hamilton's exit
Hamilton switched from McLaren to Mercedes over the winter after spending most of the summer deliberating over his future. However, Dennis, who had overseen Hamilton's career from an early age, said he did not seriously attempt to block his driver's move to a rival team.
"I recently read a very nice quote from Lewis in which he said that, unlike other drivers who had joined McLaren once they'd already raced in F1, his apprenticeship with the team in his youth meant that he was a seed that had grown within McLaren, which I thought was an extremely eloquent way of putting it," Dennis said in an interview celebrating 50 years of McLaren.
"Lewis knows that he's part of the McLaren family and that, like that seed, he's grown deep roots within our organisation. Last year I didn't seriously seek to prevent his efforts to explore new pastures with the Mercedes AMG F1 team - perhaps it was a necessary part of his maturation - but I'll always remember his time with us very fondly, just as I'm very proud of having been McLaren's CEO and team principal when he became world champion with us in 2008."
Dennis believes Hamilton's success at McLaren was rooted in his upbringing at the team.
"I don't think anyone could have predicted the impact he'd make on F1 when he first arrived. Certainly, although we'd signed him on the basis that he'd be quick, we'd anticipated that his first season would be an apprenticeship, and that he'd be learning on the job, and that there would inevitably therefore be mistakes and errors. The fact that he adapted so quickly was not only a mark of his hunger and ability, but also a tribute to the quality of the education and support that McLaren had spent so many years providing for him. While it wouldn't be unfair to call Lewis 'an overnight sensation' in F1 - and many understandably did - we at McLaren know that it took many years of unseen hard work to make him one."
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