Sir Lewis Hamilton said it was a strange feeling learning that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away.
The Queen, who served the United Kingdom for 70 years as Monarch, developed an illness last week while at her home in Balmoral.
On Thursday, she peacefully passed away surrounded by loved ones who had travelled to Scotland to visit her in her final moments, and the news shook the nation.
Hamilton had the pleasure of meeting Queen Elizabeth during her reign, so her passing hit him hard when he learned of it ahead of the Italian Grand Prix last weekend.
To commemorate her, a minute’s silence was held in the pit lane ahead of the first practice session, and again ahead of the start of the race itself – both silence periods were impeccably observed.
In the UK, many things will now change. The lyrics to the National Anthem are set to become “God Save the King” after Charles took the throne, and notes and coins will also need to be re-designed.
For Hamilton though, the passing of the Monarch was a tough one to take personally, but he hopes that there is a “bright future” for the Royal Family.
“All of us have grown up with knowing the royal family and watching closely, and I remember as a kid I adored Princess Diana, and that affected me a lot [her death], I remember,” he said, quoted by RaceFans.net.
“Now just thinking like, what does that mean, we won’t have a queen now ever in our lifetime. And what does that now mean for the monarchy?
“I hope that there’s a bright future up ahead still. There’s lots of positive things and changes that the royal family and the government can do in the future.”
On Friday, the seven-time champion took to Instagram to write a heartfelt message about the woman he admired.
“How do you find the words to describe the loss of Her Majesty the Queen?” said Hamilton.
“She was a truly iconic leader, an inspiration and a reassuring presence for most, if not all, of our lives.
“Since the sad news yesterday, I’ve been reflecting on her incredible life. She was a symbol of hope for so many and she served her country with dignity, dedication and kindness.
“She was truly like no other and I’m grateful to have lived during her time. Her legacy will be long-lasting and her passing deeply felt.
“I had the incredible honour of being able to spend time with her. It is something I’ll never forget. We talked about our shared love of dogs and she was incredibly generous with her time.
“I know the whole nation and many others around the world will be mourning her loss and my thoughts and prayers are with her family and all those close to her, who have lost a loved one. Rest in peace.”
That message arrived later than most, and this was because the Mercedes driver wanted to consider what he wanted to say.
“Everyone was posting immediately afterwards. I was like, ‘how has everyone had time?’” explained Hamilton.
“I wanted to take some time to think about it, and I was looking at all these amazing images of her, she was so stylish.
“And that was the part I really loved, her style and her jewels, so I was looking at all these incredible images through her whole life.”
Hamilton started the race in Monza 19th after taking a back of the grid penalty, but he recovered to fifth at the end of a terrific afternoon for the 37-year-old.
His team-mate, George Russell, started second and finished third behind Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.