Monaco - Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said the death of triple world champion Niki Lauda had stripped Formula One of its heart and soul, leaving him feeling 'like a zombie' and struggling to contain his emotions.
Speaking to reporters in the champions' harbourside hospitality at the Monaco Grand Prix on Thursday, Wolff paid tribute to his fellow Austrian and gave an insight into the team's state of mind ahead of one of the most watched races of the year.
"As you can imagine, this is very difficult. Very difficult for the team, for all of us and most importantly very difficult as a friend," he said.
"It’s not an easy situation to try to go back to racing, especially not in Monaco with so much media attention in front of all of you, trying to keep it together emotionally in speaking about a friend."
Lauda, one of the sport's greatest heroes as well as the Mercedes team's non-executive chairman and shareholder, died on Monday in hospital in Zurich at the age of 70.