F1: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes dedicate record title double to Niki Lauda
Valtteri Bottas’s victory in Japan seals the championships for the Silver Arrows
Mercedes have dedicated their 2019 Formula 1 championship double to Niki Lauda, the team’s former non-executive chairman who died in May.
Valtteri Bottas’s victory and Lewis Hamilton’s third place at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday secured a record sixth successive title double for the Brackley outfit.
With the constructors’ championship confirmed, the result in Japan also meant that only Hamilton or Bottas can win the 2019 F1 drivers’ title.
Championship leader Hamilton, a five-time title winner, is 64 points ahead of Mercedes team-mate Bottas with four races remaining.
Speaking after the Japanese GP Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff paid tribute to Lauda, who was instrumental in the Silver Arrows’s recent success in F1.
Wolff said: “When we embarked on the journey six or seven years ago we wanted to win races more regularly and then fight for a championship - and now, six years later, we win our sixth championship in a row.
“We never thought this would be possible and I’m incredibly happy for everybody who has been a part of this journey.
“This sixth championship is a very special one - and we dedicate it to Niki. He has been such an important part from the beginning, and we all miss him dearly. I think about him every day and still find it hard to believe that he’s not here anymore; I keep thinking to myself ‘What would Niki say, what would he think?’.
“He probably would have said ‘congratulations for the sixth one, but you have a challenge on your hands for next year’. It was his way of making sure that we’re never complacent.
“[Sunday] has been an emotional rollercoaster; we were disappointed in the morning because we weren’t quick enough in qualifying. And now we’ve won the race and also both championships - which is still hard to fully grasp.”
After Mercedes became the first F1 team to win a record six consecutive double British driver Hamilton also paid tribute to Lauda.
“It definitely feels a little bit different,” said Hamilton. “I wouldn’t want to say I’m as happy as previously because we lost Niki this year and it doesn’t feel the same without him.
“Naturally I’m very, very proud of the team, very proud of everyone back at the factory and I know Niki would be taking off his hat for [Sunday’s] result.
“We owe him a huge amount and this win is really for him. I think the whole team, the whole of Mercedes would probably dedicate this win to Niki - I definitely do.”
Japanese GP race winner Bottas added: “Six double championships - every single team member at the race track and in the factories can be incredibly proud of this achievement.
“I think we don’t quite realise yet what an amazing achievement this is, but we’re making history in this sport. We’ve had a really good season so far and managed to make the most of our opportunities, especially in the beginning of the season.
“It’s amazing to think that we’ve just done something that’s never been done before - what a great day for all of us.”
Mexico up next
The next race will be the F1 Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday 27 October at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.
There are only four races left in the 2019 season:
- 27 October: Mexican GP (7.10pm start UK time)
- 3 November: United States GP (7.10pm)
- 17 November: Brazilian GP (5.10pm)
- 1 December: Abu Dhabi GP (1.10pm)