Lauda: I told Hamilton that if he made Mercedes win he’d be a bigger legend than anybody
2 December, 2013
Niki Lauda has shone more light on the behind the scenes manoeuvring to prise Lewis Hamilton away from McLaren at the end of last season, with secret talks scheduled for the early hours before the Singapore night race.
“I had to see him in his room between two to four in the morning. I was never [before that] with a strange racing driver in a room between two to four in the morning,” he said.
“I remember very well the discussion because he was on pole position with McLaren, was basically winning everything and I asked him ‘Would you consider going over to Mercedes?.’ And he said ‘Why should I go. This car is winning, all I want to do is win, and your car is not winning’.
“I said ‘Sh*t, he’s right’,” grinned the Austrian.
Lauda’s response was to tell Hamilton that if he stayed with McLaren, the team that had supported him since he was a youngster, he would always be former boss Ron Dennis’s baby.
“But if you make the Mercedes win after [Michael] Schumacher [didn't], you might be a bigger legend than anybody else. He woke up and said ‘Let’s talk about it’. So this really was the catch for him.”
The next day Hamilton was heading for victory in the race.
Lauda feared that a victory and intense pressure from McLaren and Dennis, the team boss for whom the straight talking Austrian had won his own third title in 1984, might sway Hamilton’s mind again.
“I was sitting in front of the television and said ‘Please crash. Please retire’. I was sitting and waiting for this and Bingo! Gearbox gone. I went to see [Hamilton] right after.” (Reuters)
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