‘This one’s for Niki’: Monaco pays tribute to F1 legend Lauda as celebs and royalty descend on the Grand Prix and victorious Lewis Hamilton dedicates his win to the late three-time champion
- Hamilton finished ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and later gave a touching tribute to the star
- He pointed to Lauda’s name on the back of his red helmet in front of Mercedes crew members and fans
- Niki Lauda, who was a three-time Formula One world champion, died last Monday aged 70
Lewis Hamilton led thousands of motorsport fans in paying tribute to Formula One legend Niki Lauda as he zoomed to victory at the Monaco Grand Prix.
After crossing the line ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, the star took off his helmet and pointed at the Austrian’s name on the back.
The Mercedes driver said: ‘I was fighting with the spirit of Niki. I was just trying to stay focused and make him proud.’
Droves of spectators flocked to the historic street circuit – including Kris Jenner and the prince of Monaco – to pay their respects to the three-time world champion, who died last Monday.
Before taking to the tarmac for the high-octane race, the drivers, who wore red hats emblazoned with ‘Niki’, bowed their heads in a minute’s silence.
Lewis Hamilton was joined by thousands of Formula One fans in paying tribute to Formula One legend Niki Lauda as he swept to victory at the Monaco Grand Prix
Thousands of Formula One fans at the historic street circuit, including celebrities and the prince of Monaco, paid tribute to the three-time world champion, who died on Monday. Above: Drivers observed a minute’s silence for Lauda before the race
The Mercedes driver said: ‘I was fighting with the spirit of Niki. I was just trying to stay focused and make him proud’
Lewis Hamilton rests his shoulder on the arm of Princess Charlene of Monaco, with Prince Albert of Monaco (right).
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc pays tribute to Lauda. Hamilton crossed the line just ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who was demoted to fourth after five-second penalty
Kris Jenner was seen arriving at the paddock during the race, which Hamilton only won after careful tyre management
Lauda’s death came following a lung transplant last August, and his family said he ‘passed away peacefully’.
The legendary Austrian took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, and then again with McLaren in 1984.
His 1977 championship came just a year after a horrific crash during the 1976 season, which left him scarred for life.
However, he went on to return to the grid just six weeks later.
During today’s race, the World Champion was struggling with his tyres on his Mercedes car after earlier fitting softer rubber than Dutchman Verstappen.
It was only his careful tyre management that saw him hold off, taking his fourth victory of 2019.
Hamilton pictured with Lauda at the US Grand Prix in 2017. The Austrian died nearly a year after undergoing a lung transplant last August
Verstappen then dropped from second on the road to fourth after a five-second penalty, promoting Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari to second and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to third.
Hamilton was also seen giving a kiss on the cheek to princess Charlene of Monaco, wife of prince Albert II.
Mercedes had been quick to dedicate the Monte Carlo race to Lauda by putting a red three-pointed star on its car engine cover, a red halo and a facsimile autograph on the nose.
While the German manufacturing giants confirmed the red halo and the autographs were one-offs, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff later revealed the dedicated red stars would stay forever.
On Saturday, Hamilton celebrated an emotional pole position and was joined by team mate Bottas on the front row.
It was the 85th pole of the Briton’s stellar career, and the second of the season.