Oct.5 (GMM) Norbert Haug has denied reports Niki Lauda played a big role in Michael Schumacher's exit at Mercedes.

Niki Lauda, Former Formula One world champion
Niki Lauda, Former Formula One world champion

Photo by: xpb.cc

Germany's Sport Bild has suggested Austrian legend and triple world champion Lauda, who is joining Mercedes as a non-executive chairman, pushed hard for the German marque to oust Schumacher in favour of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

The rumour goes that Schumacher might have played a role in Lauda departing Ferrari as a consultant in 1996, shortly after the now seven time world champion joined from Benetton.

Asked if the whole story is true, Mercedes' Haug told the broadcaster ORF on Friday: "No, absolutely not."

It has also been rumoured that Lauda's new presence might have Haug and team boss Ross Brawn under pressure to keep their jobs, but Haug insisted Mercedes is "very proud" to welcome the F1 legend.

"We know and trust one another and I think this is another correct and important step in the right direction," he said.

"Niki was instrumental in the Concorde negotiations, and also the commitment of Lewis Hamilton. It has all gone very well so far."