Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the passing of Niki Lauda “just overshadows everything else” having seen his squad secure the 2019 Formula 1 world drivers’ and constructors’ titles for a historic sixth consecutive year.

During preparations for the Monaco Grand Prix with Mercedes on an ultimate high following five consecutive 1-2 finishes at the start of the 2019 F1 campaign, Lauda passed away at the age of 70 leaving the German manufacturer in mourning.

Having formed pivotal relationships with both team principal Wolff and star driver Lewis Hamilton, the loss of Lauda hit Mercedes hard as it lost its non-executive chairman and key figure to its ongoing F1 domination since his appointment in September 2012.

Mercedes ran tributes to Lauda at the Monaco GP on both Hamilton’s and teammate Valtteri Bottas’s F1 cars; sporting red halos, a ‘danke Niki’ motif on the car nose and a single red star on the engine cover which remained on the car for the rest of the 2019 season. Hamilton also used a Lauda tribute helmet during the Monte Carlo race which he went on to win.

Despite another dominant F1 campaign which resulted in securing both world titles for a sixth straight season, when asked for his highlight of the year during the Abu Dhabi finale Wolff preferred to remember Lauda.

“I don’t want to talk about the best moment because the overshadowing event was Niki’s death,” Wolff said. “That is kind of the big theme of the season for us, so I was thinking whilst they were answering when I had a moment which I felt like being the best and I didn’t.

“Of course, we are very grateful to win the championship but this one moment just overshadows everything else.”

Mercedes were joined by the rest of the F1 grid in remembering Lauda by running their own tributes in Monte Carlo, while fans wore red caps iconic with the three-time F1 world champion at both the Monaco GP and at his home race in Austria held one month later.

After winning the Monaco GP back in May, Hamilton gave his own tribute to Lauda: “I really was fighting with the spirit of Niki - he's been such an influence in our team and I know he will be looking down and taking his hat off.

“I was trying to stay focused and make him proud that it's been the goal all week and we truly miss him.”

 

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