Hamilton missing Monaco GP media day not selfish says Stewart

24-05-2019 12:25
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
General
Hamilton missing Monaco GP media day not selfish says Stewart

Formula 1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart has defended reigning champion Lewis Hamilton for missing out on the drivers' press conference on Wednesday, as the Mercedes driver said he was recovering from the passing of the team's chairman Niki Lauda earlier this week.

Hamilton was replaced by teammate Valtteri Bottas at the press conference on Wednesday as the 34-year-old was excused from media duties, a day after the news broke of Lauda's passing.

The Austrian was an integral part of the Mercedes set-up before falling ill last summer, acting as the non-executive chairman and always being by the side of team principal Toto Wolff.

Mercedes enjoyed tremendous success with Lauda on board, winning four double championships in a row while he was there.

Hamilton's choice to miss out on the press conference was met by criticism, but Stewart stuck his neck out for the five-time champion.

“Mind-management is what I lived with and I think it is why I am alive today, because in my day there were so many deaths,” he told Crash.net.

“I lost 57 people who were my friends, great friends. In those days you had to manage that mentally in a very strict way and I suspect Lewis Hamilton will handle it in exactly the same way as I would have done.

“When Jochen Rindt died at Monza, he was a close friend and I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life. I was crying when I got into the car and I cried when I got out of the car but I put in the fastest lap that I’d ever done at Monza in three laps.

“Lots of people in the media said it was a death wish, it wasn’t a death wish, it was just removing the bad bit. But the bad bits came back as soon as you stopped the car.

“So mind-management and just being able to handle it, it’s not being selfish, it’s not not caring, it’s just that you have a job to do and you do it. I would think Lewis has got all the skills and talent to do the same.”

Hamilton topped the charts in both practice sessions on Thursday, but Stewart doesn't think the Brit is getting extra motivation by Lauda's passing.

“I don’t think it is for Niki, it doesn’t need to be for Niki. He needs to do the best he can," he analysed, as Mercedes are looking to continue their historic start of the season, finishing one-two in every race so far.

“Niki was obviously very close to the whole Mercedes team and that’s being unkind at all. I think it’s a question of the person has to adjust to the circumstances of the day, and it is a sad thing that Niki has died.

“I called Niki a good friend and I was shocked when I heard. And as a team, Mercedes-Benz will feel it more than anyone else because they spent so much time together.

“But the switch off time, when you get in your cockpit and the lights go out, you are a racing driver and you are driving a car which is the most sophisticated piece of engineering in the world and to take that to its absolute limit, Lewis Hamilton is totally capable of doing that in qualifying and in a race itself, and in the same way that I did.”

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