Three-time F1 world champion Lauda played an instrumental role in convincing Hamilton to leave McLaren and sign for Mercedes after holding talks with the Briton throughout 2012. 

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But Hamilton has revealed he was under the impression that Lauda, who died in 2019 at the age of 70, was not a fan of his prior to their first meeting. 

“I miss Niki so much,” Hamilton said in a Mercedes video reflecting on his 10 years with the German manufacturer.

“We had some of the best and funniest conversations – he was one of the funniest people I've ever met.

“I know he had been quite critical of me and we hadn't actually met. 

“So this is when I was at McLaren and he was doing commentary, and he just had an assumption of who I was and had these certain comments that he made - so for me, I'm like, ‘Niki doesn't like me.’

“And I remember him giving me a call in 2012. and him asking me to come to the team, and I don't know if I even said, ‘Niki, you don't even like me, what are you talking about?’

“But we met and we had a really in-depth conversation and he's like, ‘Oh you're just like me.’

“I’m like, ‘yeah Niki I'm a racing driver,’ and he said, you know, ‘no no, you're just a hard grafter,’ and from that moment we realised that we had a lot more in common than we both anticipated and we had an amazing relationship.

“We used to fly together to races particularly back from Japan and he had the funniest stories that we just would just be on the floor laughing, me and Toto, with the stuff that he would come out with.

“He was such a fighter and he's still very much a part of the team.”

Hamilton has won six of his seven world championships and broken several records since joining Mercedes to establish himself as one of F1’s all-time greats.