Monaco Grand Prix – Addressing the media in an extensive team briefing, Toto Wolff spoke emotionally and passionately about the passing of his friend and colleague, Niki Lauda.
The Mercedes team boss has worked directly alongside the three time Formula 1 World Champion since 2012, with Lauda having joined the team as non-executive chairman.
With Lauda falling ill in the summer of 2018, he has been absent from racing ever since. Initially undergoing a lung transplant after contracting pneumonia, he succumbed to his ill health on Monday of this week. Toto Wolff took the opportunity on Thursday before Monaco’s FP1 session to address the media and outline his feelings:
“As you can imagine, this is very difficult, very difficult for the team, for all of us and it is very difficult, most importantly, as a friend. It’s not an easy situation to try to go back to racing, especially not in Monaco with so much media attention in front of all of you. I’m trying to keep it together emotionally, in speaking about a friend. This is what matters most and what hurts the most. It is one thing that the world and the F1 community has lost the biggest icon but it is totally different, and much more difficult, to have lost a friend.”
“We have been missing Niki at every single race at the end of last season when he fell ill and the beginning of this season. But, being faced with him not being with us any more and being faced with personally not texting him and more or speaking to him after a race weekend, receiving his feedback and losing him as a sparring partner is the most difficult.”
“Hopefully you can accept that we will and can carry on with racing this weekend as Niki would have wanted us to do nothing else. We also ask that you respect the emotions within this team this weekend.”
“It’s so hard to talk about Niki, the icon in F1 that he was. The biggest icon that we had. My emotions are so overwhelming as a friend, the 48 hours have been terrible. I feel like a zombie, I keep looking at the pictures, and find myself with tears in my eyes every half hour because he’s not here any more. This isn’t making it easy for me right now. There’s a huge black cloud, and there is someone who is so dearly missed in this team and in Formula 1 – I feel like we’ve lost the heart and soul of Formula 1.”