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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton explains how he decided on switch to Mercedes from McLaren

Lewis Hamilton has revealed some details of his thought process when he made the call to swap to then-midfield team Mercedes from the front-running McLaren squad.

Lewis Hamilton has given an insight into some of the details behind his switch from McLaren to Mercedes, almost a full decade ago.

Hamilton entered Formula 1 with McLaren in 2007, having been supported by the Woking squad under Ron Dennis on his climb through the junior formulae. Racing with the team for six seasons, Hamilton won his first races and debut F1 title, and proved to be a consistent challenger for podiums and victories.

But, with McLaren struggling to match the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull for outright championship bids, as well as the arrival of Mercedes as a factory team in 2010, Hamilton has revealed how his head was turned by Mercedes over the course of the 2012 season as his contract with McLaren came to an end.

"Obviously, I was with McLaren for so long. [For] the first time, I was coming to the end of my contract [at the end of 2012]," he said in a special interview alongside MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi for Sky Sports F1.

"So I was thinking 'OK, what are the steps that I have to take?' and, at the time, I did have management but I wanted to do the decision myself, you know?

"I looked at the different options that I had, I wrote the pros and cons for each team: 'Where's this team going? Where's that team going?'"

Hanging out in the kitchen with Brawn

It took a visit to his house from then-Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn - who had led his eponymous team to championship glory in 2009, as well as previously being part of the Benetton and Ferrari outfits that Michael Schumacher won his seven World Championships with - that finally started to convince Hamilton away from his McLaren home.

"Mercedes were a part of my team before. So it was McLaren and Mercedes throughout my racing career, and then they went and bought their own team," he said.

"But they were really struggling. They were like the fifth-best team.

"But Ross Brawn came to my house, my mom's house in the kitchen - we had tea.

"He's telling me the different things they're doing to progress as a team, and I'm thinking to myself, 'this is very surreal' because I was watching the Grands Prix when, if you remember, [at] Magny-Cours when Michael did four pit-stops, and just watching the championships when Michael was winning.

"I'm thinking, 'now the guy is in my kitchen', or my mom's kitchen, wanting me to join the team, which was really awesome.

"It was Ross [who convinced me]. And Niki Lauda. Niki called me: 'Hey, you must come to the team. This is the place!'

"I went, 'But Niki, you're not winning races? How's that gonna happen?' He said, 'Oh, go and meet Ross! He will tell you'. So it was a joint effort from those two."

Hamilton tempted by helping a team rise

With the move to Mercedes seen as a backward step at the time, given McLaren's status as a consistent and established front-runner, Hamilton said he had been wooed by the prospect of helping a midfield team to try to reach the highest heights in F1.

"I think I'd seen people like [Valentino Rossi] and Michael moving to a team, which was not currently winning," the Briton explained.

"But the idea of the journey to success with that team, [where] you build something special, is something special.

"If you join the winning team already, there's less passion there. So I really wanted to see if that was possible.

"Did I know what's gonna happen? Of course not. I believed that, at some stage, we would win with the decisions that were being made.

"But it happened much sooner. We won our first race in 2013, a much more competitive year and then, [in 2014] with the V6 era, then we won!"

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