Lewis Hamilton has explained his complicated relationship with Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda prior to the duo working together at the Northamptonshire-based outfit.
Twelve seasons in Formula 1 have now yielded five world championships for Hamilton, following the 33-year-old’s coronation at the Mexican Grand Prix two weeks ago.
Lauda is recovering from a lung transplant operation after falling ill on holiday, but is back at home after leaving hospital in late October.
The 69-year-old was heavily critical of Hamilton after a collision with Felipe Massa at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix and questioned the Brit’s sanity after a rogue performance at the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix.
However, the five-time world champion has opened up on his first impressions of Lauda and the comments that stuck with him when talking to the Austrian and negotiating his move to Mercedes.
“I love Niki, I miss him and I hope he will be back soon, but originally I did not have a high opinion of Niki,” Hamilton said.
“I often send him a a video from the box or from the engineering briefing and keep him up-to-date on what’s going on here.
“He called me last week, it was so nice to finally hear his voice again. He was very happy that the operation went well, he was joking and in a good mood.”
Lauda is not expected to be back in the Mercedes paddock this season, but is hoping to return in 2019.
The three-time world champion slammed Hamilton five years ago for his aggressive style of driving.
“What Hamilton did there goes beyond all boundaries,” Lauda told RTL television at the time.
“He’s completely mad. If the FIA does not punish him, I do not understand the world anymore. At some point there has to be an end to all the jokes. You cannot drive like this – as it will result in someone getting killed.”