An upset Lewis Hamilton has infuriated one of Niki Lauda's friends and former teammates, after not turning up to his media duties on Wednesday, claiming he was too upset to talk about it.
John Watson, teammate to Lauda at McLaren in the early eighties, branded the Mercedes driver as 'pathetic' for his Monaco no-show.
Lauda had played a key role in encouraging the British driver to join Mercedes in 2013, in his role as non-executive chairman. Described by Hamilton as "the bright light in my life", it's clear Lauda's death has affected the five-time Formula One World Champion.
However, Watson has criticised how Hamilton has handled Lauda's passing, claiming - despite being given permission not to appear - he should have attended his media commitments and spoke of Lauda's influence.
“It's pathetic. I would like to know how Lewis can justify this,” Watson said, according to the Daily Mail.
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“I know he was friendly with Niki, but I find it bizarre that a man of his stature would not be able to face people and tell them what Niki did for Mercedes and give him his due credit for the role he performed.
“He should have spoken out of respect. To be so upset that he apparently cannot discuss his admiration for how Niki helped him - that's pathetic.”
Having won four out of five of his world championships alongside Lauda at Mercedes, the effect the Austrian has had on his career is substantial.
Having raced in a generation of tragedies which saw 12 drivers killed in the 1970's, Watson was thankful Lauda was able to pass peacefully, but claims he'd have acted differently had the roles been reversed.
"Lewis has not had to deal with tragedy in his motor racing career the way previous generations had to,” Watson added.
“Niki's life was not cut desperately short as some drivers' lives were. He died peacefully with his family around him. What a life: champion driver, airline owner, team manager. And his personal life was worthy of a movie in itself. I don't think he had any regrets.
“If the roles were reversed, Niki would have been in there telling the press in his typical blunt way what a great driver and what a fine world champion Lewis is.”
Mercedes will hope to commemorate the life and impact of Lauda with victory at this weekend's Monaco GP.News Now - Sport News