Lewis Hamilton issues Niki Lauda tribute as F1 pays respects
"It's truly been an honour working alongside you over these past seven years. I wouldn't have even been in this team if it wasn't for you."
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 22/05/19 6:34am
Lewis Hamilton has paid a fulsome tribute to his "bright light" Niki Lauda after the Mercedes chairman and F1 legend passed away aged 70, saying he wouldn't have joined the Silver Arrows without him.
Lauda took on the role of Mercedes' non-executive chairman in 2012 and, along with then-team boss Ross Brawn, is credited with convincing Hamilton to join the team for 2013 from McLaren.
Hamilton posted a heartfelt statement on Instagram: "My buddy, I am struggling to believe you are gone.
"I will miss our conversations, our laughs, the big hugs after winning races together. It's truly been an honour working alongside you over these past seven years. I wouldn't have even been in this team if it wasn't for you. God rest your soul.
"Thank you for being a bright light in my life. I'll always be here for your family should they ever need me. Love you man. Your friend always, Lewis."
View this post on Instagram
My buddy, I am struggling to believe you are gone. I will miss our conversations, our laughs, the big hugs after winning races together. It’s truly been an honour working alongside you over these past 7 years. I wouldn’t have even been in this team if it wasn’t for you. God rest your soul. Thank you for being a bright light in my life. I’ll always be here for your family should they ever need me. Love you man. Your friend always, Lewis #oneofakind #gonetoosoon #youliveoninourhearts #restinpeace 📷 @motorsport.images
Sky F1's Ted Kravitz insisted that Lauda had a big influence on Hamilton, and Hamilton on him, claiming: "He could see greatness in others. Lauda was instrumental in getting Hamilton to sign for Mercedes, because he could see a little bit of him, that little bit of killer instinct that Hamilton has.
"Niki could see a kindred spirit in Lewis. He could see somebody who was able to turn it on, but also a thinker as well, he thought about his craft to get the best out of himself, the car and the team as well. We'll never see Niki's like again."
Since the start of 2014, the season after Hamilton joined, Mercedes have won every world title available and Toto Wolff, Mercedes' current team principal, says his fellow Austrian's contribution to their continued success was invaluable.
"Our Mercedes team has also lost a guiding light," Wolff said.
"As a team-mate over the past six and a half years, Niki was always brutally honest - and utterly loyal. It was a privilege to count him among our team and moving to witness just how much it meant to him to be part of the team's success.
"Whenever he walked the floor in Brackley and Brixworth, or delivered one of his famous motivational speeches, he brought an energy that nobody else could replicate.
"Niki, you are quite simple irreplaceable, there will never be another like you. It was our honour to call you our chairman - and my privilege to call you my friend."
Having successfully traversed the roles of driver, team manager, advisor and businessman over five decades in F1, Wolff says Lauda will "always remain one of the greatest legends of our sport".
"He combined heroism, humanity and honesty inside and outside the cockpit," Wolff added.
"His passing leaves a void in Formula 1. We haven't just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula 1. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense."
F1 pays Lauda tributes
Teams and drivers have posted their respects and recalled memories of Niki Lauda, F1's three-time world champion, on social media:
Everyone at Ferrari is deeply saddened at the news of the death of our dear friend Niki Lauda. He won two of his three world championships with us and will always be in our hearts and in those of all Ferrari fans. Our sincere condolences go to all his family and friends.#CiaoNiki pic.twitter.com/mbzZBNZiRZ— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) May 21, 2019