When the announcement was made that Lewis Hamilton had been excused from Wednesday's FIA press conference, a boo from one journalist in the media centre was so loud that it could be picked up on the audio for the broadcast.

It was a childish, distasteful action by a journalist - who remains unknown - that showed a complete lack of respect for a driver who was mourning the loss of a great friend, mentor, and figure within his Formula 1 career.

And by the end of the weekend, Hamilton had emphatically answered any critics out there, delivering a victory that would have made the late Niki Lauda very, very proud.

The passing of three-time world champion Lauda rocked the motorsport world, with tributes being paid throughout the Monaco race weekend. When the paddock first convened on Tuesday, every single driver and team figure shared their memories and, without exception, admiration for Lauda.

Hamilton had been due to appear in the FIA press conference on Wednesday but was excused under the circumstances, with Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas taking his place. It was not an unprecedented move: last year in Hungary, Ferrari’s representatives were allowed to miss the FIA press conferences on Thursday and Friday in the wake of Sergio Marchionne’s death.

It was not until Saturday that Hamilton first met with the media to discuss his memories of Lauda, who as non-executive chairman of Mercedes, had been instrumental in the post-McLaren chapter of his career. “He was part of the process of changing my life,” Hamilton said, before predicting that without Lauda’s initial approach and call in 2012 saying he should join Mercedes, he would not have won another world championship or another race.

But by Saturday, judgement had already been passed on Hamilton for missing the press conference.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Lauda’s former teammate John Watson said it was “pathetic” Hamilton had skipped talking to the media. “I find it bizarre that a man of his stature would not be able to face people and tell them what Niki did for Mercedes and give him his due credit for the role he performed,” Watson added.

But all you had to do was listen to Hamilton speaking on Saturday, or read his posts on social media, or see the red helmet design of Lauda worn en route to victory on Sunday to know how off the mark Watson’s comments were.

The entire Mercedes team was rocked by Lauda’s passing. Toto Wolff, the team principal, met with the media on Thursday specifically to talk about Lauda. A man ordinarily confident and eloquent speaking, an emotional Wolff found it far more difficult talking about the loss of his colleague and close friend.

“It’s so difficult for me to try to talk about Niki - the icon in Formula 1 that he was, I think the biggest icon that we had - because my emotions are so overwhelming as a friend,” Wolff said.

“The last 48 hours were terrible. I feel like a zombie. I keep looking at the pictures, and find myself with tears in the eyes every half an hour because he’s not there anymore.

“There’s just a huge black cloud. Somebody that is so dearly missed in this team… I feel like we’ve lost what was the heart and soul of Formula 1.”

Hamilton explained his absence – unprompted, it must be noted – from the press conference when he spoke for the first time on Saturday, reasoning that he had still not felt ready to talk about the loss of his close friend.

“The other day, I didn’t feel like I was really ready. I think Toto also felt fairly similar, and maybe Valtteri as well,” Hamilton said.

“There was time for us to really dig deep into our feelings, because we were still reminiscing over the lots of experiences that we’ve had.”

To carry emotions out on-track is a difficult task, but it is one that F1 drivers have trained to manage. One man who knew more than most about that challenge is Sir Jackie Stewart, who credited mind-management as “why I am alive today”.

“I lost 57 people who were my friends. In those days you had to manage that mentally in a very strict way, and I suspect Lewis Hamilton will handle it in exactly the same way as I would have done,” Stewart said.

“When Jochen Rindt died at Monza, he was a close friend, and I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life. I was crying when I got into the car, and I cried when I got out of the car - but I put in the fastest lap that I’d ever done at Monza in three laps.

“Lots of people in the media said it was a death wish. It wasn’t a death wish. It was just removing the bad bit. But the bad bits came back as soon as you stopped the car.

“Mind-management and being able to handle it, it’s not being selfish, it’s not caring - it’s just that you have a job to do and you do it. I would think Lewis Hamilton has got all the skills and talent to do the same.”

And that is precisely what Hamilton did on Sunday in Monaco, going lights-to-flag to win what he called one of the hardest races of his life. While he had Lauda on his minds at moments, Hamilton explained how he was able to channels his emotions and feelings to deliver a dominant display on-track, honouring Lauda in the best way possible: with victory.

“This week has been such a hard week emotionally, for us as a team and me personally, I just really, really wanted to do the job,” Hamilton said.

“I really wanted to deliver on the word of Niki, and imagining him taking the hat off in support. When I was driving I was like: ‘What would Niki do?’ - so I just kept going.

“I definitely feel like he was with my racing today. I mean, naturally, I wore his helmet. I had a helmet made, last minute. I don’t think I’ve ever worn anyone else’s helmet design.

“In terms of getting in the car, you’re able to compartmentalise it and do your job. That’s what we have to do as athletes and drivers. So, in the car, I was able to focus solely on doing it.

“But outside of the bubble, there’s that pressure of wanting to pull something special out, and do something where it’s so hard to do.”

As always, Hamilton did his talking on-track, and delivered one of the most special displays of his F1 career.

For Niki.

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