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17 Years Before Convincing Lewis Hamilton, Ex-Ferrari Boss Reveals $33,000,000 Michael Schumacher Deal Was Closed by Niki Lauda

Sabyasachi Biswas
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17 Years Before Convincing Lewis Hamilton, Ex-Ferrari Boss Reveals $33,000,000 Michael Schumacher Deal Was Closed by Niki Lauda

Lewis Hamilton has often shared that it was Niki Lauda who convinced him to switch to Mercedes from McLaren. Similar to this, and unknown to many, ex-Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemelo shared that it was Lauda who, 17 years before Hamilton, managed to persuade Michael Schumacher to join Ferrari as well.

As the seven-time world champion joined the Prancing Horse from Benetton in 1996, he instantly became the third highest-paid athlete in the world, behind Mike Tyson and Michael Jordan, as he earned $33,000,000 that year as Ferrari allowed flexibility to his personal endorsements, which were rare to enjoy back then. However, he initially hesitated to join the Italian team as it was not his first choice.

Back in the late 90s, McLaren and Williams were in a better place. However, those teams, especially Williams, had little budget to accommodate the German in the team. Hence, he played his gamble to Ferrari, and it paid off with one of the longest winning stretches.

Luca di Montezemelo reveals the Michael Schumacher truth

Jean Todt, the former Ferrari team principal, was believed to be the key man persuading Schumacher into Ferrari. However, that is not true, as the former Prancing Horse boss broke his silence on this.

The Italian revealed in a report published by Business F1 that Lauda had an instrumental role in bringing the German former driver to Maranello. Speaking about it, he said, “I didn’t want to ask Todt because I didn’t want it to get to the press.”

Therefore, as the great Austrian played a pivotal role in bringing Schumacher into Ferrari, he also helped the German to reach the height he is at now. On the other hand, the 54-year-old also played his part in sending Mercedes on a different horizon. Thus, returning the favor.

Schumacher and Lauda’s contribution to Mercedes’ success

In 2010, Michael Schumacher announced that he will return from his retirement to come and race for Mercedes alongside Nico Rosberg. It was that year when the Silver Arrows purchased Brawn GP to rebrand it into the Mercedes F1 team.

Upon joining them, he laid an important foundation for the team’s future success, as said by Toto Wolff. The German former driver raced for the till 2012 and paved the way for Lewis Hamilton in 2013.

Niki Lauda joined Mercedes two months before Schumacher left the team, and as he convinced Hamilton to join the team, that would probably be one of the greatest decisions Lewis Hamilton would have ever taken.

With the German team, the seven-time world champion now won six of his driver’s titles and raked in multiple wins to send the team and himself into a different league of dominance.

About the author

Sabyasachi Biswas

Sabyasachi Biswas

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Sabyasachi Biswas is an F1 journalist at The SportsRush. With over one and a half decades of love for the sport and five years of experience in the field, he dreams to be a regular at the paddock when the lights go out. A Red Bull fan and F1 fan in general over the years, he enjoyed watching Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel, and Max Verstappen dominate the track. Apart from F1, he's also a big-time Madridista and Federer fanatic. He was a sub-junior level footballer, won inter-district quizzes and debate competitions back in school. A travel freak throughout, he tries different cuisines and learns new cultures whenever he's away from the keyboard.

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