Lauda: I told Hamilton that if he made Mercedes win he’d be a bigger legend than anybody

Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian GP

Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian GP

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.

Lewis Hamilton with Niki Lauda

Lewis Hamilton with Niki Lauda

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)

Subbed by AJN.

  • Butterfly

    I thought Lewis was smarter than that.

  • gilgen

    Well then, as Nico gave them their first win, and has more wins than Hamilton, does that make him a bigger legend?

  • Red Bull Cheats

    @gilgen, I guess you did’t watch the Monaco race where Hamilton was in the lead into the first corner and backed off to let Nico through. I guess you didn’t see Lewis’ tire explode while leading Silverstone. Two wins that would have gone to Lewis that went to Nico. So if you are a smart team owner you can see that Lewis should have 3 wins to none for Nico. Oh and Lewis has more points than Nico too, in his first year with the team.

  • K-15-

    When did Michael won with the Mercedes before, Mr. Lauda?? Thanks to a movie which came out recently, people are actually heeding to this disillusioned old timer.

  • Boycotthehaters

    “I guess you did’t watch the Monaco race where Hamilton was in the lead into the first corner and backed off to let Nico through.”

    Nobody watched that, since it did not happen.

  • Taskmaster

    I wonder if Lauda discussed with Hamilton the impact failing to win with Mercedes would have on his career. The risk in a team swap is that both positive and negative results will be used to define the driver for that period. So far, Lewis finished in the same position in the WDC driving the Merc as he did in the McLaren several years in a row. That could lead to the conclusion that this is about as good as he can be, that the Merc was actually as good as last season’s McLaren, give or take the usual differences season to season. The underlying question to be answered is whether he is a championship driver being held back by his cars, or a 4th-5th level driver who has brilliant moments, but fails to pull entire seasons together? Time will tell.

  • sir EL

    ….bigger legend than Shumi, now ive heard it all…..wotta fool

  • Badman Jose

    @ Butterfly..
    Look at Mac today..You still think Lewis made a bad Move?
    Nuts..

    Jose

  • gilgen

    rbc. It is RESULTS that matter, not “what ifs”. The fact is that Nico has had TWO wins for Merc, so he is a bigger legend.

    And on the subject of “what ifs”, what if Nico had not been instructed not to pass Hamilton? And what if Nico did not have two mechanical break downs?

    Hamilton will NEVER be a legend.

  • T Eberhardt

    That is so funny. Hamilton backed into his only title by one point. And if crash gate had not happened Massa would have had it. And there is the luck at the last race for Ham to win the title. A much over rated driver. His team mate Niko is faster, and more so at the end of the season.

  • Dummy

    Ok No “what if” and More fact? here they are :)

    -9 consecutive Podiums on his 9 first races…
    -finish 2nd on his 1st F1 season at 1pt of 2007 WDC Kimi..
    -WDC on his 2nd F1 season
    -and have to add that Lewis Always had MINIMUM 1 win and 1 pole since 2007 and every year with a shitty car or not ..

    So HELL YEAH Nico is better and Faster than Lewis :D LMAFAO … AND FYI Lewis’s name in other TeamBosses, old drivers, current drivers mouths is refered to a Fast and dangerous One

    Lewis is probably not a “Legend” like Schumi but he’s def not A RANDOM driver ;)

  • Butterfly

    Badman Jose:

    Well, I’ll tell you what: Marc made a really bad move by hiring Pady Lowe. He is, in fact, the father of the current McLaren car. Of course, they hired him just to weaken McLaren, not to actually bring a skilled engineer on board. It seems that’s how Niki Lauda likes to do business.

  • Red Bull Cheats

    @ gilgen if it is RESULTS that matter, then Lewis is a WDC and Nico is not. So thanks for clarifying that Nico is nothing and Lewis is a hero.

    Plus only a FOOL thinks that F1 is 100% about the driver and not 80% about the cars and 20% about the drivers. The pace of the cars and the reliability is 80% of the cause of driver results.

    So if Lewis is leading a race and the tire blows out, then everyone says that Lewis is a loser and it has nothing to do with the car. Oh no wait they don’t because that would be that would be RETARDED. You must be the ONLY person who thinks that way.

    @ Boycotthehaters, Yeah the lack of reality in your posts is great.

  • Lol

    All Hamilton has achieved so far is most people saying that him and Rosberg are evenly matched, lol.

  • Saša

    Hamilton will be a legend only if he win Championship for Ferrari.
    McLarren and Mercedes don’t count in Legend mode.

    To be a legend, 1st you must drive a legend.

    And McL. Merc. are just two teams in F1. Nothing else.

    For example, Lauda is a legend. Why? He win with Ferrari two times. His third title was just statistic.

    Also, Nico and Luis are great drivers, legend or not.

    All this is my humble opinion. lol

  • Hawk

    @ T Eberh…
    if you didnt realise that Nico was beating a broken chassis in the latter part of the season then I do not know what to make of you. what happened in the last two races when it was fixed?

  • Badman Jose

    Butterfly,

    The powers at Mercedes wanted Hamilton, Lauda was hired to help make that happen. The method used really has no standing. Merc now has one of the best driver lineup in F1. Alonzo has to deal with Kimi. Willing to bet sparks are going to fly. I would not be
    surprised if Alonzo jumps ship again.

    Jose

  • teberhardt

    How did your hero/legend do with that new chassis in the last 2 races? Oh Nico beat him. 14 points to 13 points. Just the facts.

    Anyone who wins the title by 1 point and then only by the failings of other people is no real champion. Its called being lucky and there is no legend in that .

  • Hawk

    That’s stupid. Do you mean to say Kimi was lucky in 2007? Or Vettel in 2010/2? A WDC is one over a season not a race. You must have almost committed suicide in Brasil 2008. Ferrari and FIA did their best to deny Lewis that title but failed. Does Spa ring a bell? Did u expect fate to f… Lewis twice? Even with your prayers?
    So if Nico won the last 2 races what about the season? You cannot even hold a coherent argument. Ok Nico will wear no. 3 next year.

  • OF43E

    A legend? really? 1 WDC in 7yrs does not make a legend, imo

  • Garth

    Niki,

    what a statement, head for the rest home before you make anymore silly predictions, Lewis to be the biggest legend indeed, what are you swallowing

  • Hawk

    and who said he is a legend? must have been the trolls

  • Red Bull Cheats

    @teberhardt
    And how did Lewis versus Nico go over the year, even with a damaged chassis? Lewis beat Nico. So what is your fu(#ing point?