Lewis Hamilton has gone into detail about the “surreal” chats he had with Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda, who convinced him to leave McLaren for Mercedes. Hamilton spent the first six seasons of his F1 career at McLaren, winning his first of seven titles with the Woking-based team.
The Brit’s contract expired after the 2012 campaign and he had a big decision to make over his future. And he has opened up on his options at the time in an interview with Sky Sports F1.
Hamilton said: “Obviously, I was with McLaren for so long. [For] the first time, I was coming to the end of my contract [at the end of 2012].
“So I was thinking ‘OK, what are the steps that I have to take?’ and, at the time, I did have management but I wanted to do the decision myself, you know? I looked at the different options that I had, I wrote the pros and cons for each team: ‘Where’s this team going? Where’s that team going?'”
Mercedes went their separate ways from McLaren in 2010, buying the Brawn GP team. They did not start strongly in their first couple of years on the grid.
He added: “Mercedes were a part of my team before. So it was McLaren and Mercedes throughout my racing career, and then they went and bought their own team.
But they were really struggling. They were like the fifth-best team. But Ross Brawn came to my house, my mum’s house in the kitchen – we had tea.
“He’s telling me the different things they’re doing to progress as a team, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘this is very surreal’ because I was watching the Grands Prix when, if you remember, [at] Magny-Cours when Michael did four pit-stops, and just watching the championships when Michael was winning. I’m thinking, ‘now the guy is in my kitchen’, or my mom’s kitchen, wanting me to join the team, which was really awesome.
“It was Ross [who convinced me]. And Niki Lauda. Niki called me: ‘Hey, you must come to the team. This is the place!’
“I went, ‘But Niki, you’re not winning races? How’s that gonna happen?’ He said, ‘Oh, go and meet Ross! He will tell you’. So it was a joint effort from those two.”