Sebastian Vettel says Formula 1 has lost a “hero and an icon” in Niki Lauda, as the sport’s current stars paid their respects to one of the all-time greats.
Lauda’s death at the age of 70, eight months after undergoing a lung transplant, has been met with a wave of tributes from around the world and Vettel has given an illuminating insight into the man.
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“There are a lot of people that are not the way you see them on television, but Niki wasn’t one of them. He was who he was and never pretended to be anything or anybody else,” said Vettel of Lauda, who won his first of three world titles at Ferrari in the 1970s.
“Sometimes people were not thinking he was telling the truth, even though he was. Very outspoken. A true character, a true racer and passionate for the sport. A lot of things that people respected and for sure he is leaving a big gap that we won’t be able to fill.”
Vettel added: “He’s a hero and an idol for the sport. There are a lot of things we should look up to when we talk about Niki.
“First of all being so straight up. Despite his honest tongue, he was always a gentleman as well.
“I think it’s a big loss to Formula 1, and to the community. It’s an icon that we lost and will be impossible to replace.”
F1 drivers pay tribute to Lauda
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
“Obviously really, really shocking news to start the week. For sure, he meant a lot to me but for every single team member of ours, in the race team and at the factory, and he was a big part of the Mercedes family. He was a massive motivation for everyone, for myself as well, for sure, as a driver because of everything he achieved and with the difficult career he had, and all the comebacks and everything. But also as a person, it’s been great, and never forget many, many good moments, and for sure it’s not nice in terms of mindset for the weekend but I’m sure as a team we can turn it into a strength and respect Niki by going flat out on track and bringing a good result.”
Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
“What he did on track was phenomenal and I think his desire after all he went through, to get back in and do what he did… it’s hard to try and comprehend that these days. You look back now and it was insane. And then just personal conversations I had with him, or moments, he was just kind. A very kind man, very witty. At the end of the day I was a competitor with his team but he was still just very open, honest and complimentary which was always quite flattering and quite nice to hear from somebody like him. The legacy he leaves is pretty amazing and for sure we remember these good things.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull
“He won three world championships but he was also very successful out of there, with his plane aviation and also coming back with Mercedes, he was part of their success and is still. He was a great guy and I respected him a lot. Of course, I’ve never really worked with him, but with the chats we had, he’s been a great guy and for sure it’s a big loss to Formula 1, so all thoughts go out to his family right now.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
“Obviously he has been a huge legend of the sport. What he achieved after his accident, coming back in that manner and having so much success as he did, he’s an example for a lot of people and he should be for everyone. Unfortunately he left us yesterday, we’ll try and have a good weekend, not only us at Ferrari but everyone to try and honour him.
Robert Kubica, Williams
“He wrote a big chunk of the story of this sport, not only as a driver but as a person. I never had the opportunity to work with him but definitely he was a big racer and all of us will miss him. At least my personal hopes were to meet him back in the paddock but unfortunately this will not happen. That’s unfortunately part of life.”
Sky F1’s Monaco GP schedule
Thursday, May 23
8.10am: F2 Practice Live! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
9.45am: Monaco GP Practice One build-up (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
10am: Monaco GP Practice One Live! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
12.15pm: F2 Qualifying Live!
1.45pm: Monaco GP Practice Two build-up (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
2pm: Monaco GP Practice Two Live! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
4pm: The Story So Far Live!
Friday, May 24
10.20am: F2 Race One Live!
Saturday, May 25
10.45am: Monaco GP Practice Three build-up
11am: Monaco GP Practice Three Live!
12.10pm: Paddock Walkabout Live!
1pm: Monaco GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: MONACO GP QUALIFYING LIVE! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
3.30pm: The F1 Show Live!
4pm: F2 Race Two Live!
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