Lauda to focus energy on Mercedes F1

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IOL mot pic jan4 F1 Lauda Hamilton Reuters Lewis Hamilton, right, greets Niki Lauda at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo.

Retired triple Formula One champion Niki Lauda has left the board of Air Berlin so he can devote more time to his new role with Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes Formula One team.

Lauda was appointed non-executive chairman of the British-based team's board when 2008 champion Hamilton was signed from McLaren last September.

Since then, Mercedes have announced the departure of motorsport chief Norbert Haug after more than 20 years in the high-profile job.


Lauda, 63 and a former Jaguar team principal, is expected to play a liaison role between the team and the Stuttgart car manufacturer.

He retired from F1 racing in 1985 to focus on his aviation interests. The low-cost Niki airline he founded in 2003 is now owned by Air Berlin after Lauda sold his stake in 2011.

Mercedes finished the 2012 season a disappointing fifth overall, with Hamilton joining this year in place of now-retired seven-times champion Michael Schumacher. - Reuters

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