Lewis Hamilton may be the reigning World Champion but the Mercedes driver says he will take to the Melbourne grid with a “clean slate”, determined to beat everyone.
The 31-year-old has set the pace in Formula 1 over the past two seasons, claiming back-to-back Drivers’ Championship titles ahead of his team-mate Nico Rosberg.
However, heading to Australia for the start of the new season, Hamilton says he doesn’t feel like the World Champion as he needs to do it all over again.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme: “Coming into this year, I really feel like it’s a clean slate.
“When I arrive at the track, I don’t feel like I’m World Champion – that’s why I have number 44 on my car and not number one.
“I’m 44, the same as I was when I first started racing. I was here to beat everyone and that’s how I’m going into the first race.”
The Brit, though, admits he is wary of the challenge that could come from his team-mate Rosberg.
The German had a stellar finish to last year’s championship, winning the final three grands prix on the trot.
Speaking to the Mirror, Hamilton said: “My sole focus is again on winning the title but Nico also has grown, so I have to accept he is exceptionally fast and so I also have to lift my bar again. I don’t know how – but that is my goal.
“It was good for him at the end of last year.
“I had good races. I did not do the bare minimum, but I did what I needed to do to finish the year after winning the championship. My focus was elsewhere. “
Hamilton also recently weighed in on Formula 1’s extended restrictions on radio communications.
As of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, teams may no longer provide their drivers with a lot of information on how to improve the car’s performance leaving it up to the drivers.
“It is a big change,” he said. “Whether or not I agree with all the implications, I think it’s definitely going to make it a lot harder.
“We have to memorise a lot more things. There’s so many different processes, and sequences, that we have to go through in the car.
“We’re just trying to figure ways in which we can remember them – so sometimes you’ll see stickers in the car or stickers on the steering wheel because there is literally so much.
“And some of it is of no benefit in terms of improving our pace or anything like that, it’s just to keep the car going, because it is so technical.
“That’s why I’m saying, some of it I don’t agree with because it’s irrelevant to the pace of the car or to the spectators.
“But I think the idea is probably a good thing and I think you’ll see it evolve over the races.
“We’re all probably going to struggle in the first race in some way or some form, but we’ve tried to prepare the best way we can.”