Lewis Hamilton describes how Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda convinced him to leave McLaren and join a midfield Mercedes works team.
Back in 2012 Lewis Hamilton decided to leave McLaren, a team he has been with since he made his Formula 1 debut in 2007, to join a struggling midfield Mercedes works team.
During a talk with MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi, Lewis described how his move came about.
“Obviously, I was with McLaren for so long,” Lewis said.
“[For] the first time, I was coming to the end of my contract, so I was thinking ‘OK, what are the steps that I have to take?’
“And, at the time, I did have management but I wanted to do the decision myself, you know?
“I looked at the different options that I had, I wrote the pros and cons for each team: ‘Where’s this team going? Where’s that team going?'”
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Hamilton then explained how a visit from Ross Brawn, Mercedes’ team principal at the time, set the gears into motion on his switch.
The Briton admits he was in awe of the person who helped Michael Schumacher win his seven world titles with Benetton and Ferrari.
“Mercedes were a part of my team before. So it was McLaren and Mercedes throughout my racing career, and then they went and bought their own team.
“But they were really struggling. They were like the fifth-best team. But Ross Brawn came to my house, my mom’s house in the kitchen – we had tea.
“He’s telling me the different things they’re doing to progress as a team, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘this is very surreal’ because I was watching the grands prix when, if you remember Magny-Cours, when Michael did four pit-stops, and just watching the championships when Michael was winning…
“I’m thinking, ‘now the guy is in my kitchen’, or my mom’s kitchen, wanting me to join the team, which was really awesome.
“It was Ross [who convinced me to join the team], and Niki Lauda [Mercedes’ non-executive chairman at the time].
“Niki called me: ‘Hey, you must come to the team, this is the place!’ I went, ‘But Niki, you’re not winning races? How’s that gonna happen?’ He said, ‘Oh, go and meet Ross! He will tell you’.
“So it was a joint effort from those two,” Hamilton concluded.