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Hamilton: Lauda the reason I'm a five-time champion

Hamilton: Lauda the reason I'm a five-time champion

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Hamilton: Lauda the reason I'm a five-time champion

Hamilton: Lauda the reason I'm a five-time champion

Lewis Hamilton credited Niki Lauda as a crucial factor in his many successes since switching McLaren for Mercedes in 2013, admitting that he might not have made the move, or won four of his five world championships, without the Austrian's intervention.

Lauda was the first person from Mercedes to approach Hamilton about the prospect of departing McLaren during the 2012 season.

Hamilton took 21 race wins and 26 pole positions in six seasons at McLaren, as well as winning the 2008 drivers' title in stunning circumstances.

His switch to a then-midfield Mercedes seemed bizarre at the time, but the teams fortunes have diverged dramatically, allowing Hamilton to utterly dominate the V6 Hybrid era, overtaking Michael Schumacher's all-time pole record and closing on the German's 91 race wins.

"I was here at home in Monaco," Hamilton recalled of how the move came about. "I was down by the pool where I live and I remember getting a call from Niki in 2012 and we had never really spoken, me and Niki.

"So he's on the phone and he's like, 'No you should come to Mercedes, this is where you need to be'.

"And I remember that was the first time we started talking. I had always talked about how Ross [Brawn] was the convincing element in me coming to the team because when I went and sat down with him, he explained what the team was doing, where it was going, their plans.

"Mercedes and I truly believed in that vision but Niki was the one that brought it to me and got it across the line.

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"And in all of these years, he's kind of been my partner in crime: all negotiations, when we were pushing for improvements on the car he was such a racer and even though he wasn't racing himself he would come up to us and say 'what could we do better, what needs to be improved on the car?'

"So yeah, ultimately he was part of the process of changing my life. If I hadn't had the call all that time ago, I would be a one-time world champion now and probably 22 wins whatever it was when I was at McLaren and I sit here a five-time world champion and I definitely feel like I owe him a lot."

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