Hamilton must harness Lauda grief to win Monaco GP, says Sir Jackie

Lewis Hamilton must harness Niki Lauda grief in order to win Monaco Grand Prix, says Sir Jackie Stewart

  • Hamilton was so upset by Lauda’s death that he was excused his pre-race duties
  • He managed his emotions to set the fastest times in both practice sessions
  • Hamilton is in a strong position to win on Sunday given the pace of his Mercedes

Sir Jackie Stewart believes Lewis Hamilton can shut out his grief at losing Niki Lauda to win the Monaco Grand Prix.

Triple world champion Stewart recalled his own state of mind after his close friend Jochen Rindt died at Monza in 1970 – a template for his compatriot when he races around Monte Carlo’s cramped streets this weekend.

Hamilton was so upset by the death of Lauda, Mercedes’ non-executive chairman, that he was excused his pre-race media duties, but he made light of those emotions to set the fastest times in both of Thursday’s practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton was so upset by Niki Lauda's death that he was excused his pre-race duties

Lewis Hamilton was so upset by Niki Lauda’s death that he was excused his pre-race duties

Stewart, 79, said: ‘I suspect Lewis will handle it in exactly the same way I would have done. Mind management is what I lived with, and why I am alive today.

‘At one point, one in three of us was going to die. I lost 57 people who were my friends. I holidayed with them and they stayed with me. You had to manage that mentally in a very strict way.

‘Jochen Rindt was a close friend. I will never forget it for the rest of my life. I was crying when I got in the car 45 minutes after his death. I was crying when I got out of the car – but I put in the fastest lap that I had ever done at Monza.’

Hamilton managed his emotions to set the fastest times in both practice sessions on Thursday

Hamilton managed his emotions to set the fastest times in both practice sessions on Thursday

Stewart took pole position but not the victory in an ordinary March following Rindt’s accident in practice.

‘People said it was a death wish,’ he added of his blistering lap. ‘It wasn’t that. I was just removing the bad bits from my mind. The bad bits came back as soon as you step out of the car.

‘It is not about not caring. it is just you have got a job to do and you do it and Lewis has got all the skills and talent to do the same.’

Should Hamilton keep his mind clear he is in a strong position to win on Sunday given the pace of his Mercedes here on Thursday. His team-mate Valtteri Bottas was second quickest, with Ferrari a massive seven-tenths of a second back in third place through Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton has not won in Monaco since 2016 and only twice in his career.

The world champion is in a strong position to win on Sunday given the pace of his Mercedes

The world champion is in a strong position to win on Sunday given the pace of his Mercedes 

‘Winning the race doesn’t need to be for Niki,’ added Stewart, who is auctioning a special gold coin tonight to mark the 50th anniversary of his first world title and raise money for his Race Against Dementia charity.

‘Lewis just needs to do the best he can. It is a question of adjusting to the circumstances of the day.

‘The switch-off time comes when you get in the cockpit and you are driving the most sophisticated piece of engineering in the world. You need to bring it to the absolute limit. Lewis Hamilton is capable of doing that in qualifying and the race.’

Hamilton’s Mercedes carries the legend ‘Danke Niki’ on its livery, one of a host of tributes up and down the paddock to the Austrian.

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