Toto Wolff Reveals How Niki Lauda Played a Role in Lewis Hamilton Renewing With Mercedes F1

Published 02/09/2021, 8:25 AM EST
MONZA, ITALY: Mercedes GP non-executive chairman Niki Lauda talks with Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff in the Pitlane during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Niki Lauda may have been a legend for Ferrari, but the Austrian also played a critical part in the birth of the Mercedes F1 team. Lauda owned 10% of the team and acted in the role of non-executive chairman.

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The likes of Lauda and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff laid the groundwork to creating a dominion in F1 like no other.

In fact, Wolff revealed that Lauda even played a part in Mercedes offering Lewis Hamilton a new contract for 2021.

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Now, that may sound preposterous, considering Lauda passed away in 2019. However, Wolff revealed that Niki’s memory is still etched in his heart and mind, serving as a guide to him. For Hamilton‘s contract saga to come to a closure, Wolff thought about what the three-time world champion would say about offering Lewis a new contract.

Toto said (translated via Google), “I have the feeling that Niki is always there when there are situations in which I would have needed his advice. And this time too there were moments when I thought – what would Niki have said about it?

AUSTIN, TX – Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Great Britain and Niki Lauda of Germany and Mercedes during the United States Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Peter J Fox/Getty Images)

“To a certain extent, Niki had two caps on: he was looking at something from the driver’s point of view, but he could also understand the team’s perspective.

“Niki would have said by now: ‘Lewis is simply the best driver. It suits Mercedes. We should try at all costs to keep this combination.”

Nobody can disagree with that statement. After all, why wouldn’t Mercedes want to sign a man who has been critical in getting them seven world titles?

Lauda also was a key reason why Wolff joined the Silver Arrows

Wolff recalls how the Austrian racer got him to take control of the Brackley-based outfit’s operations.

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP, Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP and Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff talk on stage at the F1 Live event during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

He revealed, “Niki Lauda was the first from Mercedes who spoke to me at the time. I wasn’t convinced that this was a particularly good idea. The key moment was probably when the then Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn came to our home.

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“I then went on talking to Niki to negotiate a contract. I like to think back on it. An important part of it was that Niki made it clear to me how much we have in common. Niki said: ‘You’re actually like me.”

Since Wolff put pen to paper, neither he nor Mercedes have ever looked back. After struggling in the first few years, The Silver Arrows came into their own with the introduction of the V6 hybrid engine; title after title has followed since then.

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Although Hamilton’s new partnership may only be until the end of the 2021 season, there are some long-term goals the team want to achieve. More immediately, however, another world title for themselves and for Lewis Hamilton is all that they’d have on their minds.

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Ronan Carvalho

1063 articles

Ronan Carvalho is senior F1 author for Essentiallysports. Ronan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from St. Xavier's College.

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