Close relationship: Hamilton with Lauda at the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka
London (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton said Niki Lauda is with him “in spirit at every race” as the six-time world champion hailed the Austrian F1 legend on the first anniversary of his death.
Three-time champion Lauda passed away just before last year’s Monaco Grand Prix at the age of 70.
As well as his battles on and off the track, Lauda played a key role in persuading Hamilton to leave McLaren for Mercedes seven years ago.
“With Niki, bringing me to a team, convincing me to come to a team that at the time had a lot of success to come. I am grateful for the opportunity and forever love Niki,” said Hamilton.
“I know he is with us every race in spirit.”
Hamilton, speaking in a video tribute released by the world champions on Wednesday, admitted it was still tough to discuss the impact of Lauda, 12 months after his death.
“Niki is someone who I miss and who I think we all miss dearly,” said the British driver.
“Probably the most fond memories I have are from my first conversations. We started talking some time in 2012 and I just remember being home during the day, having a call from Niki and he is trying to convince me to come to the team.
“It was very cool to have a call from a world champion and an icon like Niki.”