Three-time world champion, Niki Lauda passed away just days before the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix, and while the Hamilton-Mercedes steamroller has continued to dominate the sport, team boss and countryman, Toto Wolff admits to still missing his input.
In addition to being non-executive chairman of the German team, Lauda was a shareholder and though these shares were passed on to his family in the wake of his death, no doubt Wolff now owns them following the recent ‘restructuring’ which saw INEOS buy a one-third stake in the team, while Daimler decreased its stake.
Talking to the sport’s official magazine, Wolff admits that many times during this season, in particular, he missed the advice of the man he previously described as a “sparring partner, sounding board and, most important, a friend”.
“(I missed him) more than ever this year,” admits Wolff, “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,” he continues. “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.
“He would leave the circuit at four or five, then I’d turn up for dinner at 8pm and he would be there with his iPad saying he’d been sitting bored for an hour.
“He would leave for the circuit in the morning before any catering stuff was there, but he loved to work the first shift and I would take over the second shift.
“I truly miss him, mostly as a friend but also as a confidant.”
Reflecting on one of the sport’s craziest seasons, the Austrian admits: “There have been situations this year where I’ve wished I could have had his opinion.
“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.
“When I used to ask Niki about various situations he would always respond with such certainty: ‘I think you should do this…'”