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Rosberg ´strongly inspired´ by Lauda

Nico Rosberg expressed his gratitude for the influence Niki Lauda had on his career after the three-time Formula One champion died at the age of 70.

Lauda’s family on Tuesday announced that the Austrian great had passed away nine months after he underwent a lung transplant.

Rosberg quit after winning his maiden F1 title in 2016, having benefited from Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda’s expertise and advice.

The German driver paid tribute to the inspirational Lauda – who made an astonishing comeback in 1976 only six weeks after suffering serious injuries in a crash at Nurburgring – on social media.

“Dear Niki. Thank you for everything that you did for me.” he posted on Twitter and Instagram.

“I learned so much from you. Your passion, your fighting spirit, to never give up, your belief that you always meet twice in life, and even your patience with us youngsters.

“Myself and all of your 100 million fans around the world, whom you also so strongly inspired to never give up in the hardest of times, are thinking of you and your family and wish that you rest in peace.”

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Rosberg praises Hamilton after record breaking qualifying

Nico Rosberg has hailed former teammate Lewis Hamilton after the Brit took his first ever pole position at Suzuka – breaking the lap record at the same time.

The Brit will start Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at the very front after setting a time of 1:27.319.

Rosberg, who joins Sky F1 as a pundit for this weekend, beat Hamilton to pole position in the three years as teammates in the hybrid era. Following Hamilton’s dazzling lap on Saturday afternoon in Japan, Rosberg was left applauding his ex-rival.

“He’s one of the best of all-time in qualifying so it’s always going to be difficult to beat him. His natural speed is just immense. The run after the summer was really important for me [referring to his championship winning season] and Lewis has that run at the moment. He has the momentum completely on his side and it’s totally against Sebastian at the moment.”

With Vettel starting alongside Hamilton, Rosberg thinks that Ferrari could give the Silver Arrows a headache in the race tomorrow: “Sebastian is starting from second and all it takes is a good start – he can win the race,” he said. “For anybody to beat Lewis you have to take advantage of the opportunities you get. That’s what I was trying to do last year and it worked quite well and that’s what Sebastian has to do this year.”

Speaking about a potential return to motorsport racing, Rosberg commented: “Let’s see – it’s not the plan at the moment. But if you tell me tomorrow that I can have a day or half a day in the cars they are driving now then for sure I would have fun.”

(Fergal Walsh)