Brawn: Lewis wants new challenge
Mercedes team boss says Hamilton was attracted by team-building challenge
Last Updated: 28/09/12 9:22pm
Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn has said the opportunity to help build a title-winning team is the main reason behind Lewis Hamilton's decision to leave McLaren and join them.
Speaking at the team's Brackley headquarters after Hamilton's three-year deal was announced, Brawn told Sky Sports News that the 2008 World Champion is relishing the prospect of helping propel Mercedes forward.
"I think once Lewis became excited about the challenge we have here and I think realised that that was the next part of his career, then things were able to progress fairly well," he said.
"We haven't achieved our objectives yet. We're not where we want to be and we're putting together a really strong, exciting team.
"I think for Lewis, the attraction was being part of that building structure - the creation of the team. Not walking into a ready formed, successful package; it was being part of the process of building that package.
"I think he felt that that was the next stage of his career."
Eyebrows have been raised by Hamilton's decision to move, given that McLaren appear a more competitive proposition than his new team.
Yet with Mercedes potentially poised to make a competitive step forwards on the back of new engine rules to be introduced in 2014, Brawn said Hamilton will be fully involved in the development of their car.
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"He met the people involved in the project, he got excited about the project - and Lewis will be involved in creating that competitive car," he said.
"He won't be turning up at the race, getting in the car and trying to win races with it. There'll be a lot of work here as well: working with the engineers to understand what he wants from a racing car, how he wants to use it, giving his opinions and views to help us create that racing car.
"I think we can create a winning racing car and I think Lewis will be a vital part of creating that racing car."
The deal is thought to be worth around £45million across its three-year duration and, with negotiations driven by Hamilton's representatives XIX Entertainment, it has been suggested that the Briton wants greater marketing freedom than has been allowed at McLaren.
Whilst not denying that the latter concern has been a factor, Brawn insisted that Mercedes didn't break the bank to secure the driver's services.
"There is a competitive market for drivers and Lewis is as competitive as anyone else in that respect. But Lewis didn't come here because we offered more money - because we didn't," he said.
"As far as I am aware, didn't offer any more than McLaren from a financial point of view. There may be some more freedoms on the branding or imaging side, but that is the kind of freedom our drivers had already - we are not changing what we are offering in that respect.
"I think, first and foremost, Lewis is a racing driver. That has to be the key to everything. If he's not successful as a racing driver, none of the other stuff can happen.
"Everybody involved, here and involved with Lewis, recognised that first of all he has to be a successful racing driver. Because if he's not a successful racing driver, nothing else can happen. That's the key thing."
The decision to hire Hamilton alongside Nico Rosberg means that Michael Schumacher will make way at the end of the current season.
Brawn admitted that longevity played a part in the decision to drop the 43-year-old seven-times World Champion, whose results have been disappointing since be made his F1 comeback with the team in 2010.
Even so, he is still hoping that Schumacher might continue to play a role with Mercedes.
Outlining how events have unfolded, Brawn said: "Michael spent a lot of time over the summer thinking about his future. For us, the next stage was at least a two-year programme to take us into 2014 or maybe even longer. And, of course, at Michael's age it's becoming more difficult to make that level of commitment.
"That was happening at the same time as developments for progressing and discussions were progressing with Lewis. Michael was aware of everything that was going on; gradually one took over the other."
He added: "I think Michael's going to take some time now to reflect on what he's going to do in the future but there's still lots of opportunity here for him to be involved.
"Obviously, being a very close friend and having had many successful periods with Michael, I'd be delighted if he stayed involved in the team in some capacity."