Lauda played a pivotal role in tempting Hamilton to the Silver Arrows from McLaren in 2013.
However, Hamilton was stood down from Wednesday’s drivers’ press conference, replaced by team-mate Valtteri Bottas. The Finn said Hamilton “seemed OK” when asked about his condition.
And Watson believes the reigning world champion has done his friend a disservice
“It’s pathetic,” Watson told the Daily Mail. “I would like to know how Lewis can justify this.
“I know he was friendly with Niki, but I find it bizarre that a man of his stature would not be able to face people and tell them what Niki did for Mercedes and give him his due credit for the role he performed.
“He should have spoken out of respect. To be so upset that he apparently cannot discuss his admiration for how Niki helped him – that’s pathetic.
“If the roles were reversed, Niki would have been in there telling the press in his typical blunt way what a great driver and what a fine world champion Lewis is.”