Niki Lauda won’t be in the paddock for the season opener in Australia after he had a lung transplant in August and Christian Horner believes the Mercedes team are weaker without the Austrian.
Lauda has been apart of the Mercedes setup alongside Toto Wolff since 2013 but has not been in and around the team since having surgery in his home country Austria last year. The season kicks off in Australia with Mercedes looking to defend their double title for the sixth consecutive season. Despite being direct rivals Red Bull boss Christian Horner is looking forward to the Austrian returning to the race scene.
"Niki is a big force for Mercedes,” said Horner in an interview on GPToday.net.
“I hope he will soon he has it to be a tough man, he is a fighter and he is an incredible person.
"You feel Niki's absence from the outside.
“He would have been even more missing if there had been a tight fight for the title last year.”
Horner added how he thought Mercedes weren’t the same team without the Austrian saying: “Niki has a lot of experience and is never afraid to give his opinion.
“I am convinced that Mercedes and the Mercedes council lack support.”