|© AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos
Niki Lauda was instrumental in persuading Lewis Hamilton to leave the comfort of McLaren into the tough reality of the Mercedes team – all for the good of the British driver.
The three-time champion, who was recently announced to be on the board of directors of the German manufacturer as a non-executive chairman, had a word with the 27-year-old to sway the pendulum in Mercedes’ favour by highlighting the potentials of the move.
“I spoke to him a couple of times, but I didn't have to convince him much,” Lauda was quoted saying by AFP. "He had a clear plan and I didn't have to convince him of anything.
"I can honestly say I was impressed with his approach to things - very pragmatic, no emotions whatsoever. The real discussion was, 'why should I leave a competitive car where my life is easier in the future?'
"My argument was, 'if you're looking for a new challenge then frankly the Mercedes team is one'. Thinking the other way round, if Michael Schumacher could not get the Mercedes team - for three years running - up front and you next year are doing much better, this makes a huge impact on your personality and people will rate you much higher than you are rated now," the Austrian pointed out.
Financial aspects of the deal, however, were something Lauda was not really involved in.
“The money was not really the case. The offer was very close to the one of McLaren. In the end it was that he looks for a new challenge,” he confirmed. “A new challenge with new people... you learn different things and different approaches - it's something that for a competitive guy like Lewis was very interesting."
The 63-year-old was convinced that Hamilton would shine with the Silver Arrows but clarified that he would have share an equal status with teammate Nico Rosberg.
"There's no number one and number two. There's enough money for Mercedes that they can prepare two cars exactly the same way,” he said. "And what I really look forward to is that Hamilton will push Nico Rosberg to go quicker and Nico will push Hamilton to go quicker - and this is really all you need in a team."