Stewart: Hamilton absence from media day not a 'selfish' act

Lewis Hamilton
© XPB 

Sir Jackie Stewart says that Lewis Hamilton's no-show on media day in Monaco following the passing of Niki Lauda was not an act of selfishness on the part of the Mercedes driver.

Hamilton was scheduled to appear in Wednesday's drivers' conference, but the reigning world champion, who was particularly distressed by the death of Mercedes AMF F1 chairman, was exempted from his duties by the FIA.

The Brit's absence sparked some criticism from those who believed Hamilton should have public expressed his feelings for Lauda, a man who had been instrumental in convincing him to join Mercedes in 2013.

John Watson, Lauda's former Brabham and McLaren team mate, branded Hamilton's attitude as pathetic, but Stewart defended the Mercedes driver, arguing that mind management is a priority in a situation of personal shock.

"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," Stewart said.

"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," recounted the triple world champion.

"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."

While Hamilton mourned the loss of Lauda, as did Toto Wolff and the entire Mercedes team, it obviously had no impact on his performance, having dominated Thursday's proceedings.

Conversely, Stewart doesn't believe the event will boost Hamilton's motivation this weekend.

"I don’t think it is for Niki, it doesn’t need to be for Niki. He needs to do the best he can," said the Scot.

"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.

"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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