Fire still burns bright for F1 world champ Lewis Hamilton
Four-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will start his 209th Grand Prix on Sunday, but he feels like he'll attack this Australian Grand Prix like it's his first.
A look of boyish glee comes over the 33-year-old's face when asked what drives him to succeed on the eve of his 12th season in Formula One.
"I'm naturally competitive so that comes into it but I think it's about always wanting to grow," Hamilton told AAP at a Mercedes Petronas product launch in Melbourne.
"And being faced with something new every year. It's not the same car as last year ... it's a new machine that I've got to (master).
"There's only 20 of us in the world who are currently able to race Formula One and I'm at the forefront of that.
"It's pretty freaking neat."
Hamilton kicked off his Formula One career on the starting grid at the Albert Park circuit in 2007 in a McLaren Mercedes.
He grabbed a stunning podium finish in third, behind Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and teammate Fernando Alonso.
Then he broke through for his maiden win in Australia in 2008 and went on to claim his first world championship that year.
Hamilton's other Australian Grand Prix win came in 2015, but with seven podiums from 11 starts, the Brit has a soft spot for the season-opening race.
"I love coming out here," he said.
"Australia has got so much to offer. You've got the great beaches - I did want to go surfing but I was working up until the weekend plus you do have big Great White (sharks) here ... so I thought maybe not.
"It's crazy because I remember being at home growing up before racing ever started.
"My mum would be watching Home and Away or Neighbours whenever it was on and I remember (thinking) 'Who are these people who speak with that different accent?'
"I remember my first trip out here and how special my first Grand Prix was. It will always have a real significance in my career.
"I love being out here and I'm excited about this weekend ... I hope the weather stays good."