Niki was an integral part of our team, as our Non-Executive Chairman, and his passing in May 2019 left a huge void. For many, he wasn’t just an F1 icon and world champion, but also a beloved colleague and friend at the heart of our sport.
Niki was frequently heard to say in his own inimitable way: “I have no friends.” Yet that could not have been further from the truth. One person who got to know Niki particularly well during their years together at Mercedes is Toto Wolff.
“Of course, we all had our moments with Niki,” says Toto. “But it only recently occurred to me that Niki was probably the person with whom I spent more time than anyone else during the last five or six years. That was through our work for Mercedes in Formula 1.”
Niki played a crucial role in convincing Lewis Hamilton to join the team in the run-up to the 2013 season: “He gave the team credibility, and that gave the team a big push. Everybody knew Niki – when he set his mind to doing something, he never went about it half-heartedly.”
Even in his diplomatic role in the team, Niki always remained true to himself. He was straightforward, honest, forthright. A handshake meant more to him than a thousand written contracts. His words had weight, and what he said counted for something. Even when it hurt.