Hamilton excused media duties in Monaco following Lauda's death

Lewis Hamilton was excused from his media duties before the Monaco Grand Prix on Wednesday following the death of Niki Lauda.

Hamilton was set to attend the official news conference but his Mercedes team asked for him to be excused.

Lauda was the non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team and was close to Hamilton, having been instrumental in persuading him to join in 2013.

Mercedes are planning a tribute to Lauda on their cars during the weekend.

And team members will wear black armbands in honour of the 70-year-old Austrian, a three-time world champion and an iconic figure in Formula 1.

The sport is also planning events to honour Lauda, although the details have not yet been made public.

Hamilton’s place in the official FIA news conference was taken by his team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

The Finn said: “Really shocking news to start the week. He meant a lot to me but also to every single team member. He was a big part of the Mercedes family.

“He was a massive motivation for everyone, and for me – everything he achieved, the difficult career he had, the comebacks: I will never ever forget.

“Not the best mindset for the weekend but I am sure as a team we can can turn it into motivation.”

Other drivers in the news conference also paid tribute to Lauda.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen said: “Niki was a legend of the sport. He achieved a lot, but he was also a very generous and funny guy.”

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc added: “I didn’t have many chances to meet with Niki but the very few times I spoke him him, he was extremely nice.

“He was always available and also very humble [despite] what he achieved. He is a great example for the sport in general and he will be missed a lot.”

Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, Leclerc’s team-mate, said: “Niki leaves a void that will be difficult to fill. He was a genuine motor racing icon.”

Lauda won two of his three world titles for Ferrari, in 1975 and 1977, and team principal Mattia Binotto said: “The run-up to this Monaco Grand Prix has been perturbed by our sadness at the news of Niki’s death.

“His straightforward, no-nonsense approach will be missed in Formula 1 and it will seem strange for all of us not seeing him in the paddock.

“Niki was a standard bearer for Ferrari and for Formula 1 and he pushed through changes in motor racing that made it even more professional, being ahead of his time in terms of being a stickler for detail which is now very much a key element of our sport.”

Monaco Grand Prix coverage details
Date Session Time Radio coverage Online text commentary
Chequered Flag podcast: Monaco Grand Prix review – download here once the race has finished
Wednesday, 22 May Preview 19:00-20:00 – Listen here BBC Radio 5 Live
Thursday, 23 May First practice 09:55-11:35 BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra From 09:30
Second practice 13:55-15:35 BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra From 13:30
Saturday, 25 May Third practice 10:55-12:05 BBC Sport online From 10:30
Qualifying 13:55-15:05 BBC Sport online From 13:00
Sunday, 26 May Race 13:00-16:00 BBC Radio 5 Live From 12:30
Monday, 27 May Review 04:30-05:00 BBC Radio 5 Live

This article is from the BBC Sport website / bbc.co.uk – Hamilton excused media duties in Monaco following Lauda’s death

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