Formula 1‘s Managing Director of Motorsport and former team principal of the Mercedes AMG Motorsport team, Ross Brawn says that without the influence of Niki Lauda, the Silver Arrows might not have invested the money necessary into bringing Lewis Hamilton in to the team in 2013.
The three-time F1 world champion passed away aged 70 prior to the Monaco Grand Prix, spawning tributes around the world and within the sport to the legendary Austrian driver. Red caps were given out on the Sunday of the Monaco Grand Prix to pay tribute to Lauda, who was known for wearing his iconic red cap around the paddock.
Lauda joined Mercedes in September 2012 as their non-executive chairman, and was one of the leading figures into bringing Hamilton out of McLaren F1 Team and joining Mercedes in 2013.
Hamilton admitted that he may still be a one-time world champion if it wasn’t for Lauda’s influence into joining the team.
Brawn, who at the time was team principal of Mercedes, told to Motorsport-Total.com that Lauda played an role into convincing Mercedes to pay the money needed to get Hamilton from McLaren.
“Our first common job was to bring Lewis Hamilton into the team. Niki was crucial in this process,” commented Brawn.
“I convinced Lewis, visit us, but it was Niki who persuaded the Mercedes board to give us the money for Lewis. And that was no easy task.
“It turned out to be an important moment on the team’s current path.”
The signing of Hamilton to Mercedes proved to be vital as both the Briton and the Silver Arrows would dominate F1 in the V6 Hybrid era, with Hamilton winning four out of five world championships between 2014 to 2018. The reigning champion currently leads the 2019 season over team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Brawn recalls Lauda becoming more involved with the team once Hamilton signed with the Brackley based team, and he played an important role in the development of the team that now dominates the sport.
“He did not have to do that, but he wanted to understand the process in the team and he wanted to be an active part of it,” continued Brawn.
“I have to admit that he had a rather relentless approach and that there were many situations in which we clashed.
“But I think we found a good working relationship during the Mercedes time that the team ultimately benefited from, and Niki’s advice has always been valuable – not on operational issues, but on the big picture.
“His legacy is huge. He was an important part in the development of the team that currently dominates Formula 1 and could possibly be the most successful in the history of the sport.”