Hamilton and Wolff lead tributes to Niki Lauda, one year on from his passing
Three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda died on May 20, 2019, and exactly one year on, Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton has paid tribute to his mentor and colleague.
Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Toto Wolff and other Mercedes team members have shared some of their memories of the man who played such a big part in their lives and success.
Lewis Hamilton – ‘I have only the greatest memories with Niki’
"Niki is someone who I miss and who I think we all miss dearly. It is a difficult subject to talk about; someone you are so fond of and someone that ultimately the world has lost but I have only the greatest memories with Niki.
"Probably the most fond memories I have are from my first conversations. We started talking some time in 2012 and I just remember being home during the day, having a call from Niki and he is trying to convince me to come to the team. It was very cool to have a call from a world champion and an icon like Niki.
"He was such a positive, funny, entertaining guy, he always had the greatest stories to tell. He was a natural born racer. He was always thinking about how we can improve. The greatest sign from Niki was if you did the job, he would take off his hat. That was for him saying: ‘Well done!’
"We would talk often after the races and he would be asking things like: ‘Hey, Lewis, what do you need to be better? What do you need?’ He was always chasing.
"If I was to learn anything from him it would be that. As a driver and within a team you naturally have to work together but you have to lead it. You have to lead the team, you have to ask the questions, you have to really dig deep and push everybody.
"I am grateful for the opportunity and forever love Niki. I know he is with us every race in spirit."
Toto Wolff – ‘The way that he coped with adversity is something I really admired’
“What did I learn from Niki? So much. From a personal standpoint it is to never give up. Don’t ask for understanding, just get things done. Niki never complained. He was somebody that would be in pain and go through struggle, but he just sorted it out.
“The adversity that was thrown at him and the way that he coped with it is something that I really admired. Through the years our relationship developed and I think we learned a lot from each other because we were so different but his input and him being a sparring partner and a sounding board and most important a friend that would be with me in that in a hostile environment is something that I tremendously miss.”
Valtteri Bottas – ‘Niki inspired me just by giving his support’
“From Niki I learned to always trust your talent, never doubt it, to really always remind yourself that you should not doubt your driving style, the way you do your things in the car. I also learned from him not to let your head get too down from disappointments and how to recover from them quicker and to look forward to more positive times.
“Niki inspired me just by giving his support always when I needed it. He was the person that inspired me in the difficult times, he was always there with his support, for me to bounce back and to remind myself why I am doing this and that I am good enough to do it. He was very good at that.”
Mercedes Technical Director James Allison – ‘He was about looking ahead’
“Niki is someone who’s life was huge, bold, sweeping and brave and big enough to fill 10 autobiographies. Yet he didn’t spend any time talking either about himself or reliving past glories.
“He was about looking ahead, he was much, much more interested in engaging with us about the challenges the team faced and the opportunities that lay ahead of us and he was a massive, massive friend to our team.
“He was our Chairman. He was equally adept in the board room and with the fans. He would represent us with F1 and the FIA. He would spend time with the press always representing us at the highest level. And he is a big part, an important part why the cupboards are stuffed full of silverware both at Brackley and at Brixworth.”
Mercedes engine chief Andy Cowell – ‘I learned so much from him’
“Niki Lauda: A Formula 1 legend and an amazing colleague, an amazing person to learn from, to learn about having true determination, good focus, to achieve amazing things. Through 2013 he visited the factory frequently to help us stay focussed and solve problems.
“When he arrived everybody paid attention, everybody would listen to his words of advice. Simple words of advice and you take away the key things that we need to do and he would remind us of those.
“He often reminded me of the numbers that I had told him. He had a keen sense of memory for those bits of detail.
"I have learned so much from Niki. He is a person that I am proud that I have known and taken lots of advice from over the years. Thank you, Niki."