Sir Jackie Stewart has defended Lewis Hamilton for not facing the media ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix in the wake of Niki Lauda's passing. Former racer John Watson said that Hamilton was "pathetic" for not offering a tribute to Lauda on Wednesday in Monte Carlo.
Hamilton was replaced in the FIA press conference by team-mate Valtteri Bottas, while Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff put his media session back a day and paid a warm tribute to Lauda when he faced the press.
Stewart lived through some of the most lethal years of F1 and says Hamilton is right to handle the grief in the best way that works for him.
"Mind-management is what I lived with and I think it is why I am alive today, because in my day there were so many deaths," Stewart said.
"I lost 57 people who were my friends, great friends. In those days you had to manage that mentally in a very strict way and I suspect Lewis Hamilton will handle it in exactly the same way as I would have done.
"When Jochen Rindt died at Monza, he was a close friend and I'll never forget it for the rest of my life. I was crying when I got into the car and I cried when I got out of the car but I put in the fastest lap that I'd ever done at Monza in three laps.
"Lots of people in the media said it was a death wish, it wasn't a death wish, it was just removing the bad bit. But the bad bits came back as soon as you stopped the car.
"So mind-management and just being able to handle it, it's not being selfish, it's not not caring, it's just that you have a job to do and you do it. I would think Lewis has got all the skills and talent to do the same."
Stewart does not believe that Lauda's passing will give Hamilton any further motivation to win in Monaco.
He said: "I don't think it is for Niki, it doesn't need to be for Niki. He needs to do the best he can.
"But the switch off time, when you get in your cockpit and the lights go out, you are a racing driver and you are driving a car which is the most sophisticated piece of engineering in the world and to take that to its absolute limit, Lewis Hamilton is totally capable of doing that in qualifying and in a race itself, and in the same way that I did."
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