Mercedes secured their sixth consecutive Constructors’ title over the weekend, but Lewis Hamilton admitted afterwards that the feeling was not “as happy as previously” as it “doesn’t feel the same” without Niki Lauda.
Valtteri Bottas secured Merc’s 12 race win of the season at the Japanese GP as he took the chequered flag with team-mate Hamilton finishing third. It means the team are not only assured of the team title, but also the double as Bottas is the only driver who can still catch Hamilton.
Although everyone at Brackley is delighted with their latest achievement, Lauda’s death earlier this year did take some of the gloss off the celebrations.
Lauda had served as non-executive chairman and also played a major role in Hamilton swapping McLaren for Mercedes.
“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 today’s result.
“Yeah, 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, y’know? And every time I walk into the garage I see Niki’s headphones and his cap. I sat and I looked at it today before I got in the car. As I said, I know he’ll be proud, I know his family will be as well. The team should be proud too.”
Hamilton was later asked to elaborate on what it means to be part of such a successful team.
“I’ve been with the team for seven years,” he said. “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, just seeing 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.”