Toto Wolff on his and Mercedes' emotions after Niki Lauda's death
"I feel like a zombie and I keep looking at the pictures and find myself with tears in the eyes every half hour"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 24/05/19 4:29pm
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has spoken of his emotions over the loss of Niki Lauda and the "bond" that existed between the Austrian great and Lewis Hamilton.
Wolff addressed the media at the Monaco GP for the first time since Lauda's death and said it had been a difficult few days for himself and the team at Mercedes, where the triple world champion served as chairman.
"It's not an easy situation to try to go back to racing, especially not in Monaco with so much media attention," said Wolff. "In front of all of you trying to keep it together emotionally when speaking about a friend. This is what matters most and what hurts the most.
"It is one thing that the world and the community has lost the biggest icon, but it is a totally different and much more difficult situation to have lost a friend.
"We have been missing Niki in every single race at the end of last season, when he fell ill, and at the beginning of this season, but being faced with him not being anymore among us and, for me personally, to not be texting with him anymore or speaking after the weekend, receiving his feedback and having him as a sparring partner is the most difficult."
Wolff added: "The last 48 hours were terrible, I feel like a zombie and I keep looking at the pictures and find myself with tears in the eyes every half hour because he's not there anymore.
"It's a huge black cloud and somebody that is so dearly missed in this team and dearly missed in Formula 1. I feel we have lost what was the heart and soul of Formula 1."
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Hamilton's bond with Lauda
Hamilton was excused from planned media engagements on Wednesday and Wolff believes: "I think we are maybe in a similar frame of mind, we've just lost a friend".
Asked about Hamilton's relationship with Lauda, Wolff replied: "Lewis and Niki are bound together by an additional link and that is the link of multiple world champions.
"Only very few people have experienced what these two have experienced, winning championships over several years against the best. Driver and car on the limit.
"Niki joining Mercedes in the summer of 2012 was a big part of Lewis joining the team. It gave the team credibility, it gave the team a big push. Everyone knew when Niki was doing things he wasn't doing them half-heartedly and that link among racing drivers, among multiple world champions, is a bond and is extremely important."
Lauda's impact on Mercedes
Wolff and Lauda arrived at the Brackley team within six months of each other in 2012-13 as its German owners set about revamping the management structure after several years of underperformance.
Lauda was famously one of F1's most outspoken figures and Wolff said he loved working with his countryman.
"[It was] wonderful because once our journey started to settle down in terms of trust to each other, his loyalty to the team was immense. It was a huge advantage having somebody who didn't need to be politically correct anymore. Niki Lauda could say everything he wanted."
And Wolff believes his great friend would have wanted only one thing from the team in Monaco this weekend.
"Everyone will have his own personal way of mourning and feeling the sadness, but Niki would want us to concentrate on the race weekend and deliver on Saturday and deliver on Sunday."
Sky F1's Monaco GP schedule
Thursday, May 23
1.45pm: Monaco GP Practice Two build-up (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
2pm: Monaco GP Practice Two Live! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
4pm: The Story So Far Live!
Friday, May 24
10.20am: F2 Race One Live!
Saturday, May 25
10.45am: Monaco GP Practice Three build-up
11am: Monaco GP Practice Three Live!
12.10pm: Paddock Walkabout Live!
1pm: Monaco GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: MONACO GP QUALIFYING LIVE! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
3.30pm: The F1 Show Live!
4pm: F2 Race Two Live!
Sunday, May 26
12.30pm: Monaco GP Pit Lane Live! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
1.30pm: Monaco GP On The Grid Live! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
2.10pm: THE MONACO GRAND PRIX LIVE! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
4pm: Monaco GP Paddock Live!
4pm: Indy 500 build-up (Red Button)
5pm: Indy 500 LIVE! (Race starts at 5.45pm)
9pm: Monaco GP highlights
10pm: Monaco GP best bits
10.30pm: Monaco GP race replay
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