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Toto Wolff Recalls Emotional Moment When Niki Lauda Called Him ‘Half-Friend’

Anirban Aly Mandal

Toto Wolff Recalls Emotional Moment When Niki Lauda Called Him ‘Half-Friend'

On the fifth anniversary of F1 legend and three-time world champion Niki Lauda’s passing, Toto Wolff pays an emotional tribute to his late friend. As non-executive chairman of Mercedes, Lauda partnered with Wolff in creating an iconic and historic dynasty in F1 after the onset of the turbo-hybrid era. But it is a private moment the two shared that Wolff cherishes the most, even to this day.

Mercedes quoted the Austrian,

“We were coming back from Suzuka, just him and I. He said he had no friends – he always said that. But he said if there was such a thing as a half-friend, then I was it. He was almost teary, but it was the best comment I received from Niki in all our years working together. It meant that we were friends.”

In the past, Lauda explained that the fame F1 gave him also exposed him to people who called him their “friend” for favors. Hence, he always maintained that he had none. Shutting himself from the world, Lauda’s words to Wolff stand testament to the partnership and friendship they had forged at the very pinnacle of motor racing.

Wolff joined Mercedes in 2013 and Lauda had already served one year as the team’s non-executive chairman by that time. Together, they would go on to win five driver’s and five constructors’ championships between 2014 to 2019; the latter being the year of Lauda’s demise.

Niki Lauda was the key in convincing Lewis Hamilton to join Mercedes

Back in 2012, when Lauda spoke to Lewis Hamilton about a move to Mercedes for 2013, the Silver Arrows were nothing more than a midfield team. On the other hand, Hamilton was part of McLaren and the Woking-based outfit was winning races.

In an ideal world, Hamilton would have refused. But Lauda was crucial in convincing the now seven-time world champion to jump ship to Brackley. He lured the Briton with the idea of becoming the first driver to lead Mercedes to a world championship and his charms were too hard for Hamilton to refuse.

In the end, Hamilton won six more titles with the Silver Arrows. And throughout their alliance, both Hamilton and Lauda shared a very good relationship fueled by the mutual respect they had for each other – for what they had achieved together and individually in the sport.

Speaking about his relationship with the former Ferrari and McLaren driver, Hamilton narrated an incident when the trio of Lauda, Hamilton, and Wolff had gone out for a sushi dinner. Recollecting when Lauda soaked himself in soy sauce after dropping his fish into it, Hamilton poignantly said, “We all just burst out laughing. It was not business, just three guys laughing really hard!”

Post Edited By:Somin Bhattacharjee

About the author

Anirban Aly Mandal

Anirban Aly Mandal


Anirban Aly Mandal is an F1 writer at The SportsRush, with over 1000 articles under his belt, Anirban's love for F1 started when he discovered a copy of F1 2014 on his computer. With over half a decade's worth of time spent religiously following the sport, he’s dived deep into the world of motorsports. However, Anirban's expertise goes beyond just writing - he has also written several academic papers focused on the domain of motorsports and the law. His passion for the sport is so immense that he aspires to work as a legal advisor in the most prestigious racing series in the world someday. When it comes to Formula 1, Anirban finds great pleasure in re-watching classic races and idolizes the likes of Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, and Sebastian Vettel. His top picks include Brazil '91, Silverstone '92, and Germany '19. Outside of the sport, Anirban is an avid sim racer, often found racing on titles like Assetto Corsa, F1 22, and Automobilista. Apart from his interests in gaming, Anirban has a keen interest in philosophy, literature and music.

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