Niki Lauda tribute: Mercedes to feature red star on F1 cars

Tanya Simon
May 23, 2019

Lewis Hamilton with his motorbike in the paddock at the Monaco Grand Prix (David Davies/PA).

Poignant tributes to Niki Lauda, including a solitary red baseball cap left hanging on his earphones peg, were all around the Mercedes team motorhome and their cars on Thursday morning as practice began for the Monaco Grand Prix. A minute's silence is likely before the race.

On Tuesday Hamilton issued a heartfelt tribute on Instagram to the three-time world champion, who died aged 70, and although scheduled to speak to the press on Wednesday Mercedes requested that he was allowed to miss the conference. "I wouldn't have been in this team if it wasn't for you ..." He was a massive motivation for myself as a driver for everything he achieved and the hard career he had, with the comeback. Lauda was the non-executive chairman at the Mercedes team and had been instrumental in persuading the British driver to join them.

Lauda's former teams - McLaren and Ferrari - also plan to run tributes.

"My buddy, I'm struggling to believe you are gone", said Hamilton. "He was very outspoken, a true character, a true racer, passionate for the sport, all things people respected. He's leaving a big gap we won't be able to fill". Lauda's death has had a big impact at Mercedes.

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British rookie George Russell, a Mercedes-backed driver who was the team's official reserve until securing a race seat with Williams, recalled how he and Lauda used to watch MotoGP races together.

Looking ahead to this weekend's race in Monaco, Binotto said: "It's a very different sort of race, where the track characteristics that can shake up the order could be jumbled up still further this weekend".

"I remember at Silverstone when I won my first or second GP3 race and he was down at the podium with Toto and I couldn't believe it really".

Lauda had been an integral part of the Mercedes team since 2012, when Michael Schumacher was driving for them. "He was just an awesome person".

"Niki's loss is of huge significance to Formula One", said the Briton. "Simply, he was a legend".

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