'His fighting spirit was starting to dim' - Hamilton is still missing his 'great pillar' Niki Lauda

<b> TWO THREE-TIME F1 CHAMPS: </b> Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (L) speaks with former racing driver Nikki Lauda (R) during a practice session earlier this year. <i> Image: AFP / William West </i>
<b> TWO THREE-TIME F1 CHAMPS: </b> Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (L) speaks with former racing driver Nikki Lauda (R) during a practice session earlier this year. <i> Image: AFP / William West </i>
William West

Lewis Hamilton admits he still misses Niki Lauda greatly and says he sometimes revisits the old messages and videos shared between the two of them.

Lauda, Mercedes' non-executive chairman and three-time F1 World Champion, passed away in May during the week of the Monaco Grand Prix.

But Lauda's legacy remains with the six-time double champs on a daily basis, and Hamilton revealed that it's a source of comfort for him to look back at the conversations they had.

"I miss getting the texts. I miss sharing those videos, and I still have a lot of our conversations and every now and then I revisit it," Hamilton told Motorsport.com.

"But again, without his support, I probably wouldn't have made the switch to come to this team. Without his support, I wouldn't still be with this team. I don't think this team would have had success without his support.

"Going to the board, pushing and breaking their balls. That is what he was the best at.

"But also being real with me. Being the bridge between… Toto [Wolff] was a racing driver and the board, who were not racing drivers, to have a real champion who understands, and empathises with how difficult it is to deliver weekend in weekend out, [and] when you make a mistake…

"That is where he has been such a great, great pillar for me. So I miss him a lot."

Before his switch to Mercedes in 2013, Hamilton says he remembers Lauda "saying certain things about me on the TV and not really having a great opinion of me".

"All of sudden I was in this position where I've got to make a big decision in my life and Niki is on the phone to me," he continued.

"I thought: ‘Wow I am talking to a three-time world champion', and I didn't really know him, so I can't say I trust this guy on the phone.

"But then I sit down with Ross [Brawn], and I sit down with Niki in a hotel room, and just the journey we went on. I would like to think that we grew to love each other as friends."

Hamilton also shared the difficult experience of when he went to visit Lauda not long before his passing.

"It was really tough to see him," said the six-time World Champion.

"We had been sending videos to each other, and I had seen him through his biggest dip and he came back and was in a wheelchair and I was really hopeful.

"And then he had another fall and started to get worse. And that is when I went to see him. And it was still a shock to see your mate in a bed, plugged in. And I've been there before. My auntie died of cancer so I had seen it.

"But it is always a shock. And you could see his spirit, this bright spirit of his still shining, but it was starting to dim a little, you know?

"And his fighting spirit was starting to dim, which is only natural when you are going through such a long battle. So it just hit me."

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