F1

Mercedes’ touching Niki Lauda tribute at Miami Grand Prix as team remember iconic Austrian

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Mercedes kept the memory of Niki Lauda going strong at the Miami Grand Prix last weekend. Lauda, who died in May 2019 aged 70, is regarded as one of the legends of the sport. The Austrian won three F1 world titles, and is the only driver in history to have been champion for both Ferrari and McLaren.

Having served in different roles with the Scuderia and the Jaguar post-career, in September 2012 he was appointed non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team. One of his most telling contributions was taking part in negotiations to sign Lewis Hamilton to a three-year deal in 2013.

The same year that Lauda passed, Hamilton poignantly went on to win a sixth world title, and duly made it seven the following season. After his 2019 success he said: “I miss Niki so much. I know today he will be taking his cap off. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without Niki. He’s here with us in spirit.”

Sure enough, it seems Lauda’s legacy still burns bright at the garage of the Silver Arrows. On Reddit, u/99Sermon posted a picture of the icon’s cap over a pair of headphones, with his name on a plaque below. The items were stationed next to the headphones of Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff.

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The image was captioned “Mr. Lauda still holds a place of honor in the Mercedes AMG F1 team pits.” And sure enough, fans were quick to laud the gesture, following a weekend where the Silver Arrows showed slight improvements as Hamilton finished sixth and George Russell fifth.

edis92 wrote: “I don’t think that’s ever changing, at least as long as Toto and/or Lewis are with the team, they were both very close to him,” while marahute85 added: “It’s not just that, he was responsible for building Mercedes into its dominant run.” OutdatedElements wrote: “As it should be, Niki Lauda will always be a legend.”

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The_Bucket_Of_Truth hailed Lauda’s reputation for straight-talking, posting: “I really do miss interviews with Lauda. Even though he was employed by a team he felt totally free to speak his mind and not have to play politics too much.”

His influence is perhaps being missed now, with Hamilton and co going through their toughest period since the British driver joined. Following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Wolff apologised to him over team radio and labelled his new car “undriveable”.

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