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Lewis Hamilton withdrawn from Monaco GP press duties due to Niki Lauda death

The Briton paid an emotional tribute to Lauda on social media following his death aged 70.

Lewis Hamilton was withdrawn by Mercedes from Wednesday's press conference for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The world champion, 34, had been due to appear on stage in Monte Carlo alongside Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

But following the death of Mercedes' non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, the Englishman was told by Formula One's governing body, the FIA, that he did not need to attend.

A Mercedes spokesperson said: "We have asked for Lewis to be excused in the circumstances following yesterday's news. The FIA have kindly agreed a dispensation."

An arranged media session with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was postponed until Thursday.

Lauda, who joined the Silver Arrows in 2012, died on Monday.

Lewis Hamilton with his motorbike in the paddock at the Monaco Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton with his motorbike in the paddock at the Monaco Grand Prix (David Davies/PA).

Valtteri Bottas replaced team-mate Hamilton at the press conference.

"It meant a lot to me, but also to every single team member," said the Finn as he reflected on Lauda's death.

"Niki was a big part of the Mercedes family. He was a massive motivation for myself as a driver for everything he achieved and the difficult career he had, with the comeback.

"It is not nice in terms of a mindset to the team, but I am sure we can respect Niki by going flat out on track and getting a good result this weekend."

Verstappen said: "Niki was a legend of the sport. He achieved a lot in his career, but also after his career had finished – he was generous and funny.

"He was a great guy and it is a big loss to Formula One."

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Niki Lauda pictured on March 20, 2018
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