How Red Bull helped Hamilton sign for Mercedes

Dr Helmut Marko ruefully recounted how he helped Lewis Hamilton sign for Mercedes and forge a partnership that has dominated the last six years in Formula 1.

Niki Lauda and Ross Brawn successfully tempted Hamilton to leave McLaren for the 2013 season and replace Michael Schumacher in a Mercedes team that had only won one race in their first three years back in the sport as a constructor.

After a first season played out in the final throes of Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel‘s dominance over F1, the dawning of the V6 Hybrid era has seen the Silver Arrows take over, with a sixth straight title double a near certainty for 2019 and Hamilton closing in on his sixth drivers’ championship crown.

Marko has revealed that Vettel and Mark Webber’s place in the Red Bull set-up blocked any potential move for Hamilton, but the Austrian thought he had spotted a chance to weaken a key rival – McLaren – by facilitating a move to the then-midfield Mercedes.

He told Motorsport-Total.com: “Lewis was really unhappy at McLaren and there was no space left here.

“So we thought it’s better if he goes to Mercedes and we were massively supporting Lauda in the recruitment of Lewis.

“McLaren was our strongest opponent back in the day and in hindsight, it would have been much better if he stayed with McLaren and you see how tactically sometimes you are wrong.”

McLaren have not won a single grand prix since Hamilton left at the end of 2012, with poor car construction and a dreadful three years with Honda taking them right to the back of the pecking order, although a recovery has now begun, with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris leading a fight for fourth place in the championship in 2019.