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2013-01-04 08:33

GROUNDED AND FOCUSED: Former F1 driver Niki Lauda has left his job at Air Berlin to put all of his attention on the F1 Mercedes team.

ALAN BALDWIN

Retired triple Formula 1 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 F1 team, the airline said on January 3, 2013.

Austrian Lauda was named as non-executive chairman of the British-based team's board when 2008 champion Hamilton was signed from McLaren in September 2012.

LINK ROLE

Since then, Mercedes has 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 link role between the team and the Stuttgart automaker.

The Austrian 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; Lauda sold his stake in 2011.

Air Berlin thanked Lauda in a statement for his "committed, stimulating work for the benefit of the company".

Mercedes finished the 2012 season a disappointing fifth overall. Lewis Hamilton has now joined the team from McLaren to replace re-retired Michael Schumacher.

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