F1 managing director Ross Brawn, who guided Mercedes' efforts as a works outfit in F1 from 2010 to 2013, revealed that it was Niki Lauda who crucially convinced the manufacturer to pay big bucks for Lewis Hamilton's services in 2013.
Hamilton has often recounted how Brawn had visited the then McLaren driver at his mother's house at the end of 2012 to lay out Mercedes' enticing plans for the future.
While the Brit was impressed with what he heard and ready to jump ship from McLaren to Mercedes, he would only consider a change if Mercedes acceded to his lofty financial demands, set at an estimated $25 million!
"Our first common job was to bring Lewis Hamilton into the team. Niki was crucial in this process," remembered 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."
Hamilton's move to the Silver Arrows squad, which had won just one race in three seasons, was seen as giving away what the Brit had at McLaren for something far less certain at Mercedes.
However, 56 wins and four world titles later, the move has delivered a massively successful return on investment for both team and driver.
"It turned out to be an important moment on the team’s current path," admitted Brawn.
Hamilton's presence at Mercedes also encouraged Lauda to get more involved with the team on a day-to-day basis, which in turn rattled Brawn's cage on occasion.
"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," added the former Merc team principal.
"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," concluded Brawn who left Mercedes at the end of 2013.