‘You don’t even like me’: Lewis Hamilton reveals why he hesitated to join Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton thought that Niki Lauda disliked him before the Formula 1 legend called him and personally asked him to join the Silver Arrows.

Niki Lauda was one of the most respected drivers in Formula 1, having won three world titles in the driver’s seat before becoming a non-executive chairman at Mercedes in 2012. 

While he would build a strong partnership and friendship with Lewis Hamilton during the now-seven-time world champion’s stint at Mercedes, the Brit felt that Lauda didn’t always like him.

Looking back at his career, Hamilton saw a photo of himself and Lauda, who passed away in 2018, reflecting on their bond at Mercedes.

“I miss Niki so much. We had some of the best and funniest conversations – he was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” he said.

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“I know he had been quite critical of me and we hadn’t actually met. So this is when I was at McLaren and he was doing commentary, and he just had an assumption of who I was and had these certain comments that he made – so you know, for me, I’m like, ‘Niki doesn’t like me.’

“And I remember him giving me a call in 2012. and him asking me to come to [Mercedes], and I don’t know if I even said, ‘Niki, you don’t even like me, what are you talking about?’”

However, despite initially fearing that Lauda wasn’t impressed by his career, Hamilton found that the pair actually had a lot in common, becoming quite close during the following seven seasons.

“But we met and we had a really in-depth conversation and he’s like, ‘Oh you’re just you’re just like me.’ 

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“I’m like, ‘Yeah Niki I’m a racing driver,’ and he said, you know, ‘No no, you’re just a hard grafter,’ and from that moment we realised that we had a lot more in common than we both anticipated and we had an amazing relationship.

“We used to fly together to races particularly back from Japan and uh he had the funniest stories that we just would just be on the floor laughing, me and Toto, with the stuff that he would come out with.

“So um he was such a fighter and he’s still very much a part of the team.”