Lewis Hamilton says Ross Brawn made the breakthrough by convincing him to join Mercedes’ Formula 1 team for 2013 after remaining uncertain after initial conversations with Niki Lauda.
Hamilton won his seventh F1 world title last weekend in Turkey to tie Michael Schumacher’s all-time record, having won six of the championships with Mercedes.
Hamilton left McLaren at the end of the 2012 season to join Mercedes in what at the time seemed like a shock move, only for his subsequent success proving it was the right move.
Much of the work to convince Hamilton to leave McLaren in 2012 went to non-executive Mercedes chairman and three-time F1 world champion Niki Lauda, the duo forging a strong bond and friendship in the years that followed. .
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But Hamilton recently revealed that he remains uncertain about Mercedes’ future plans after his initial talks with Lauda, and that it was Brawn – then the Mercedes team manager – who had managed to convince him.
“I had spoken to Niki at his home in Monaco, I was talking to him and he was talking to me about coming,” Hamilton said, reflecting on his decision to join Mercedes.
“I’m pretty sure he was the first one I spoke to. He said ‘you have to come on the team!’
“I wasn’t necessarily convinced at first. I think the convincing step that really got me interested in it was when Ross came to my mom’s house and sat down with me in the kitchen We had tea and he showed me what the plan is for the team.
“It was the real in-depth look at what the team was planning, the changes they were trying to make. It was really the selling point.”
A key moment in Hamilton’s decision to join Mercedes came at the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix, when he met Lauda to discuss further details of the deal which was announced five days after the race.
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Hamilton said their talks in Singapore played a big part in the start of their friendship and helped clarify some perceptions of what Lauda looked like.
“The important part of Singapore, I think Niki and I – maybe more for him – realized we have a lot in common,” Hamilton said.
“It was really the start of our friendship, because I remember him saying to me: ‘you look a lot like me’. I think he realized that we had a lot more in common than he perhaps thought before, because we didn’t. We didn’t really talk before, it was all done on guesswork and what people were writing.
“I say it over and over again, it was way beyond my wildest dreams to think I would get to seven [titles]. Getting a world championship was great. It was obviously difficult to get the second one, and I spent years trying to help the team win another world championship.
“Then I had to make a big decision, whether to stay put and keep riding, or do something more adventurous. I took that leap of faith, and then we went one after another here.
“I knew I made the right decision when I made the decision. I knew it was the right thing for me. But damn it, did I know we would win six world titles?
“I think what it says is that in life we have to make sure that we take that leap of faith, do what you think is right for you and not what people tell you to do, and do the homework so you have the pros and cons, then go with it.
“Go with everything, be it good or bad.”
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