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Motorsport | Formula 1

Lauda expects Brawn to return to F1



Niki Lauda says he expects to see departing Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn back in Formula One eventually, even if the Briton is in no hurry to decide his next move.

Brawn, one of the most experienced and successful figures in the sport, and Mercedes announced last week that he would be leaving at the end of the year, handing over to executive directors Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe.

The Briton told reporters on Sunday, at the Premiere of the Manchester United 'Class of 92' film, that he would "see how things pan out in the next six to 12 months" before deciding what to do.

"I will take some time off now and reflect on things, see if the juices start flowing again and next summer make a decision if there are any opportunities or there are things I want to do or people offer me things to do," said Brawn.

Triple world champion Lauda, non-executive director of the Mercedes team, expected there would be offers and said he had tried hard to convince the 59-year-old to stay.

"I'm very sad about it because I wanted him to stay another year," the Austrian told reporters at a function before the Autosport Awards ceremony on Sunday night.

"But he says he wants to go fishing. So I really tried hard but he stays a consultant to me which I think is very good and important.

"He says he wants a rest. So it's very simple. I think he will not go in pension (retirement), this is clear. I think he will come back, I don't know maybe with the (governing) FIA or whatever he likes to do," added Lauda.

Lauda, who was given a lifetime achievement award on Sunday, said Brawn would be involved in the handover.

Brawn said everyone at Mercedes had got on "fairly well".

"I just had a view on how things should be done and a slightly different view to some other members of management," he added. "I think for me it was coming to the end of a period anyway."

Lauda, whose epic 1976 championship effort was turned into this year's movie 'Rush', was typically blunt about the challenge ahead.

"Now Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe, and Paddy especially on the technical side, has to fill this big hole he has left," he said, adding that Brawn would help him get Lowe fully up to speed in his new role.

"Don't worry I am going to kick them like you do not believe ... and hopefully we can keep on going," he laughed.

Mercedes finished second overall this year, up from fifth in 2012, with Germany's Nico Rosberg and 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton winning races.

HAMILTON TALKS

Lauda shone more light on the manoeuvring to prise Hamilton away from McLaren at the end of last season, with secret talks in the early hours before the Singapore night race.

"I had to see him in his room between two to four in the morning. I was never with a strange racing driver in a room between two to four in the morning," he said.

"I remember very well the discussion because he was on pole position with McLaren, was basically winning everything and I asked him, 'Would you consider going over to Mercedes?.' And he said 'Why should I go. This car is winning, all I want to do is win and your car is not winning'.

"I said, 'He's right'," grinned the Austrian.

Lauda's response was to tell Hamilton that if he stayed with McLaren, the team that had supported him since he was a youngster, he would always be former boss Ron Dennis's baby.

"But if you make the Mercedes win after (Michael) Schumacher you might be a bigger legend than anybody else. He woke up and said, 'Let's talk about it'. So this really was the catch for him."

The next day Hamilton was heading for victory in the race.

Lauda feared a victory and intense pressure from McLaren and Dennis, the boss for whom he had won his own third title in 1984, might sway Hamilton's mind again.

"I was sitting in front of the television and said, 'Please crash. Please retire'. I was sitting and waiting for this and Bingo! Gearbox gone. I went to see him (Hamilton) right after."

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