Lewis Hamilton admits Mercedes’ constructors’ championship success feels different this season without former non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
Lauda helped convince Hamilton to join Mercedes back in 2013 and had been a central figure within the team until his death in May of this year. With Valtteri Bottas winning the Japanese Grand Prix and Hamilton finishing third, Mercedes wrapped up a sixth straight constructors’ title while also ensuring one of its line-up will win the drivers’ title, but championship leader Hamilton says not celebrating with Lauda tempers his emotions.
“It definitely feels a little bit different,” Hamilton said. “Obviously… I wouldn’t say as happy as previously because naturally we lost Niki this year and it doesn’t feel the same without him. So, naturally I’m very, very proud of the team. Very proud of everyone back at the factory, and I know Niki would be taking off his hat for (Sunday’s) result.
“I think we owe him a huge amount and this win is really for him. I think the whole team and the whole of Mercedes will probably dedicate this to Niki. I definitely do. Very, very proud to be a part of it, and a part of the journey — but it has been a difficult, a tough year for us.
“Every time I walk into the garage I see Niki’s headphones and his cap. I sat and I looked at it before I got in the car (at Suzuka). As I said, I know he’ll be proud, I know his family will be as well. The team should be proud too.”
With Mercedes becoming the first team in Formula 1 history to win six consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ championships, Hamilton says he is motivated to deliver his best performances by the determination the team around him has to remain the benchmark.
“I’ve been with the team for seven years. I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13, so very proud to be racing the silver star and be part of this incredible journey that Mercedes is on. Joining them in 2013, with just the utter belief that we will do something special, it’s kind of crazy to see it coming to fruition, all the hard work.
“Naturally, when I met everyone in 2013, (I saw) how dedicated they were there, and it still remains the same. Even though we have the success each year, they’re hungry, they’re driven, they’re excited that they have Valtteri and I in the car and they give absolutely everything. And I love that, and it really inspires me to go out there and drive the way that I do, the way that we do throughout the weekend.”