Hamilton reveals early preconceived view on Niki Lauda

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Lewis Hamilton says he was surprised when Niki Lauda asked him to join Mercedes, having always had the impression that the late F1 legend did not like him.

Although then Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn was instrumental in convincing Hamilton to leave McLaren at the end of the 2012 season and move to Brackley, it was Lauda who initiated the conversations with the young Briton at the time.

It was an uneasy introduction however when Lauda called Hamilton out of the blue, as the Austrian had previously been publicly critical of the McLaren driver, as the Briton remembered in a Mercedes video in which he reflects on his ten years with the German outfit.

"I miss Niki so much," Hamilton said. "We had some of the best and funniest conversations – he was one of the funniest people I've ever met.

"I know he had been quite critical of me and we hadn't actually met.

"So this is when I was at McLaren and he was doing commentary, and he just had an assumption of who I was and had these certain comments that he made - so for me, I'm like, ‘Niki doesn't like me.’

"And I remember him giving me a call in 2012 and him asking me to come to the team, and I don't know if I even said, ‘Niki, you don't even like me, what are you talking about?’"

But once they met and broke the ice, the two men hit it off and realized that they had more in common than they thought.

"We met and we had a really in-depth conversation and he's like, ‘Oh you're just like me'," added Hamilton.

"I’m like, ‘yeah Niki I'm a racing driver,’ and he said, you know, ‘no no, you're just a hard grafter,’ and from that moment we realised that we had a lot more in common than we both anticipated and we had an amazing relationship.

"We used to fly together to races particularly back from Japan and he had the funniest stories that we would just be on the floor laughing, me and Toto, with the stuff that he would come out with.

"He was such a fighter and he's still very much a part of the team."


Lauda served as Mercedes' non-executive chairman from 2012 until his passing in May 2019, aged 70. The Austrian died following a period of ill health that followed a lung transplant in Austria in August 2018.

Last year, Mercedes named the main road the runs through its campus in Brackley in honour of the great champion, and its F1 cars continue to sport the lone red star tribute to Lauda as a permanent remembrance of the triple F1 world champion.

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