Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes' 2019 F1 success for Niki Lauda
"We owe him a huge amount and this win is really for him"
By Matt Morlidge at Suzuka
Last Updated: 14/10/19 3:24pm
Lewis Hamilton paid a heartfelt tribute to Niki Lauda after Mercedes clinched another championship, insisting the team owe their much-loved former chairman a "huge amount" for their historic success.
Mercedes are hitting heights no Formula 1 team has reached before - now guaranteed a sixth consecutive drivers' and constructors' double - but their standing in the sport was much different in 2012 when Lauda joined a raw outfit which had just one win in the previous three seasons.
But Lauda played a key role in convincing Hamilton to leave McLaren in his first year in the role, and then formed a formidable partnership with team boss Toto Wolff - with Mercedes claiming every title available since 2014.
Lauda passed away in May this year.
Hamilton dedicated Mercedes' 2019 triumph to the legendary three-time F1 champion.
"It definitely feels a little bit different," said Hamilton. "I wouldn't want to say I'm as happy as previously because we lost Niki this year and it doesn't feel the same without him.
"Naturally I'm very, very proud of the team, very proud of everyone back at the factory and I know Niki would be taking off his hat for today's result.
"We owe him a huge amount and this win is really for him. I think the whole team, the whole of Mercedes would probably dedicate this win to Niki - I definitely do."
Mercedes display a red star on their cars to remember Lauda, while his red cap and headphones are still hanging up in the garage. A red cap was also on display at the front of their celebratory team photo on Sunday atop a winning trophy.
"I'm very, very proud to be a part of it and a part of the journey," added Hamilton after Mercedes sealed the constructors' title thanks to Valtteri Bottas' win and Hamilton's third-placed finish in Suzuka.
"But it has been a difficult, tough year for us. Every time I walk into the garage we see Niki's headphones and his cap - I sat and looked at it before I got in the car.
"As I said, I know he'll be proud, I know his family will be as well. The team should be proud, too."