Mercedes boss Wolff keen for 'companion' Lauda to return

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Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff admits he'd like "companion" Niki Lauda back in the team set up as soon as possible.

The triple world champion, who holds a non-executive chairman role within the Brackley-based outfit, has been absent since last summer following a lung transplant.

Complications from the flu in January then halted efforts to return this weekend in Australia and that led Red Bull chief Christian Horner to suggest Mercedes was weaker without the Austrian.

"Personally, I miss him very much as a human being and as my companion in battle," Wolff said in response.

"His feedback is important, his interaction with the other teams is important. He has always been our foreign minister and a very important part of this team."

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The Mercedes boss refused to put a timeline on a comeback, claiming " not even the doctors know" when he'll be fit.

"We would like to see it happen as soon as possible, but I don't want to put any pressure on," Toto continued.

"I do think he's out of the woods and on his way back to a normal life, there are always setbacks but the trend is very positive.

"I talk to Niki every other day. He is a huge fighter with incredible resilience and our plan is to get him back to all the races."

Wolff concluded though by insisting any impact was minimal in terms of day-to-day operations.

"We expected it [Lauda's absence] to last only six months, maybe a bit more, maybe twelve, but our direction is that we want it to be like it was a year ago," he stated.