Lewis Hamilton reveals he was persuaded to join Mercedes at meeting with Ross Brawn
Remember when Lewis' move to Mercedes seemed a bad idea?
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 24/11/14 3:28pm
Lewis Hamilton has revealed he was first “sold” on transferring to Mercedes from McLaren during a meeting with Ross Brown at his mother’s home midway through the 2012 campaign.
Hamilton's decision to abandon McLaren, for whom he had driven since boyhood, for then also-rans Mercedes stunned F1 at the time of its announcement. Two years on, however, and with Hamilton on the verge of a second title courtesy of the team’s dominant start to the sport’s new turbo era, the gamble has come to represent a masterstroke.
It has passed into F1 folklore that Hamilton was persuaded to join Mercedes during a late-night-early-morning meeting with Niki Lauda in his hotel room around the weekend of the Singapore GP two years ago. Hamilton’s famous backward glance at his broken-down McLaren after retiring from the lead of the race only served to represent visual confirmation that this was the weekend when Hamilton opted to fly the family nest.
But now Hamilton has revealed that a rather more homely meeting at an altogether different kind of family nest was the root cause of his decision to join Mercedes.
“It wasn’t that conversation that got us to where we were. It was a conversation we had with Ross Brawn when Ross came to my mum’s house. I was thinking ‘jeez, it’s Ross Brawn coming to my mum’s house and drinking tea with us!’. He explained to me in depth what the team had planned – its long-term plan, what steps the team was taking and that was when I was sold,” Hamilton revealed in an extended interview that will be broadcast ahead of Sky F1's coverage of today’s title-deciding Abu Dhabi GP.
“I spoke to Niki many times on the phone. Naturally, our meeting was a positive one but it was really underlining that previous one. l wanted to be part of a team that could grow and already achieving it is amazing.”
Mercedes’ front-row lockout in qualifying for the season finale in Abu Dhabi was their 12th of a record-breaking season. While Nico Rosberg will start at the front of the field after claiming his 11th pole of the year, Hamilton is certain to be crowned champion if he finishes the race in his starting position of second place.
"My number one focus is just doing the best I can and driving the way I have been driving for quite some time,” said Hamilton after qualifying. "You want to get the pole, but just because I'm second doesn't mean we can't win.
"You can't really measure how big it is. It is obviously the biggest day of my life.
Speaking later, Hamilton added that while his aim is to win, he's hoping to avoid a repeat of the sort of error that put paid to his chances in Brazil two weeks ago.
On that occasion, he pushed too hard to take the lead from Rosberg after the German had pitted and spun off the Interlagos track.
“My goal is to win,” Hamilton added. “It’s what it is nearly every race weekend and naturally you always try and drive towards the limit. You never want to go over and above the limit and depending on the situation, you choose how close to the limit you want to be.
“I look at the last race, for example, and say I stepped over the limit. I won’t be doing that tomorrow but I can still win by not going to that limit. So that’s what I’m going to try and go for.”