‘I Was Almost in a State of Shock’ – Toto Wolff Opens up on Missing Niki Lauda at Mercedes

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Mercedes recorded their most dominant performance this season as they won 13 out of the 17 races this year. The Silver Arrows have ruled the hybrid era, and team boss Toto Wolff remembers his late friend who helped turn around the Mercedes’ fate.

Niki Lauda, a three-time world champion, joined Mercedes as a non-executive chairman in 2012. He played a significant role in bringing Lewis Hamilton over from McLaren – a partnership that became the most successful in the sport’s history this season.

Niki Lauda passed away ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix in 2019. After the season wrapped up, Toto Wolff recalled his fellow German’s contribution to the team and his life. He also admitted that he felt Niki’s absence during the season.

Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. Saturday 9 May 2015. Niki Lauda, Non-Executive Chairman, Mercedes AMG, with Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG. Courtesy: Getty

He said, “[I missed him] more than ever this year, because in 2019 I was almost in a state of shock that he had died and I just kept going.

“I only really realised at the end of the year that my good friend was gone. My travelling buddy was gone and my confidant was gone. The structure we had was such a big part of my life – flying to races together, having our discussions, having dinner every single day,” Wolff further added.

ALSO READ – Niki Lauda: A Tribute to the F1 Legend who Moved from Death Bed to Track in One Month

Mercedes boss wishes he had Niki Lauda’s advice

Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 13, 2020 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action after the race Pool via REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Niki Lauda had immense experience in Formula 1 as a driver and in management positions. Thus, he played an important role in Mercedes’ rise. Wolff admitted that he wished he could seek Lauda’s advice several times this season.

He explained, “There have been situations this year where I’ve wished I could have had his opinion. But in a funny way, when I ask myself, ‘what would you have done, Niki?’ the answer comes to me immediately, because he was so straightforward.”

Mercedes beat Ferrari‘s record as they clinched their seventh championship title in a row this season. The team has seen a meteoric rise and was much faster than the rest of the grid all season.

They will hope to extend this record and continue their domination as the next season begins in March.

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