Wolff feels like 'a zombie' since Lauda's passing

ยฉ XPB 

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he was emotionally unsettled by the death of the team's chairman Niki Lauda, admitting the last 48 hours had been "terrible".

Lauda passed away on Monday evening and tributes honoring the memory of the F1 legend are still flowing.

Formula 1 will conduct a tribute of its own this weekend in Monaco while Mercedes has adorned its cars with a special 'Danke Niki' message.

For Wolff, who shared a great deal of his time o Grand Prix weekends with Lauda, the great Austrian's passing was a big personal blow.

"My emotions are so overwhelming as a friend," said Wolff.

"The last 48 hours were terrible, I feel like a zombie. I keep looking at the pictures and find myself with tears in the eyes every half an hour, because he's not there anymore.

"It's just a huge black cloud, and somebody that is so dearly missed in this team, and dearly missed in F1. I feel that we have lost the heart and soul of F1."

Wolff and Lauda's friendship began many years ago when the Mercedes motorsport boss was a Williams shareholder and happened to be married to Lauda's cousin.

He was kept abreast on the three-time world champion's condition which deteriorated at the end of last year following a flu infection that set in just a few months the lung transplant Lauda underwent last summer.

"We knew that it was not going well," Wolff said. "It was probably a matter of days. I got a text message from his wife on the Monday evening. I was in Paris.

"Since then, I'm not myself. It feels surreal to be in an F1 paddock with Niki not alive anymore.

"Although we could see it coming, when it happens, it's so raw that you're not going to see him anymore."

Yesterday, Lewis Hamilton was scheduled to appear in the afternoon drivers' conference but felt too upset by Lauda's passing to face the media.

The Brit has taken a fair amount of flak for shying away from his media duties, but Wolff defended his driver, insisting "it is very difficult to comment 48 hours after you've lost a dear friend".

"We both got the message at the same time and spoke to each other right afterwards, and these last days," Wolff added.

"Everyone will have his own personal way of mourning and feeling the sadness."

As he addressed the media as a whole on Thursday, Wolff asked for respect, saying "that it is impossible for us to comment and be reminded about the sad situation" throughout race week.

"Hopefully then you will accept that we can carry on with our racing," he added.

"There is nothing else that Niki [would have] wanted us to do."

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