Somewhere around September 2012, Lewis Hamilton had to make a crucial decision in his career. Stay with McLaren or move to a new and untested team like Mercedes.
Eventually, he picked the latter, and what he has achieved in these last few years, is there for everyone to see. The Briton has catalyzed the team’s efforts and has dominated since the turbo-hybrid era came into effect in 2014.
But what did Hamilton make of the team’s factory when he paid his first visit? The 7-time World Champion has revealed the feeling he got, having seen the operational processes at the Brackley-based outfit.
Speaking in an interview, Hamilton stated, “I came from the McLaren driven by Ron Dennis (then team number one; ed) who was a great visionary, he had a super spectacular hi-tech factory built.
“The Mercedes headquarters was more spartan, and I liked it because I thought: ‘These people spend money on racing and not on appearance’.” (translated from Google Translate)
Every F1 driver understands the value of research and development that lays the foundation for a team’s results in the sport. And Hamilton believed Mercedes were particularly focused on investing in actual racing needs.
“In F3 I started with a team that invested a lot in image and less in engineers and development. Then I moved on to another team that put their money where it mattered: aerodynamic research, carbon fiber specialists, and so on. And I won.
“Even then I told myself that this is what I wanted in the future. And that’s the feeling I got when I got to Mercedes. Obviously it is a comparison, we are talking about much larger dimensions.
“But that’s the gist of it,” concluded Hamilton on the topic (translated from Google Translate)
Only a select few had seen it coming when Hamilton officially decided to leave McLaren. Many even cast doubts over his career progression, and some had even called it a mistake.
After all, Mercedes were an unknown commodity back then, spending just 3 years in the sport. But as time passed, things came together for them and they are now the team to beat.
Sometimes, it is all about taking on challenges and treading the less trodden path. And as Hamilton went down that road, he discovered tremendous success and has now joined the greats in F1 history.