Niki Lauda gives short shrift to speculation Mercedes eyeing Sebastian Vettel
Austrian also not expecting any long-term fallout from Hungarian GP
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 08/08/14 10:20am
Niki Lauda has described as “absolute rubbish” reports that Mercedes are considering a move for Sebastian Vettel at Lewis Hamilton’s expense for the 2016 season.
Both Hamilton and Red Bull’s Vettel, whose contracts with their respective teams are currently both due to expire at the end of 2015, were put on the spot at last weekend’s Hungarian GP about speculative reports in the German press which suggested that Mercedes were looking to prise the World Champion from their rivals to form an all-German line-up alongside Nico Rosberg, who recently agreed a new multi-year deal.
Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko was quoted as saying that Mercedes, along with McLaren, had made an offer to his driver, although Vettel himself played down such claims.
Hamilton, meanwhile, said that both he and Mercedes’ management had already indicated to each other that they wanted to extend their relationship – a position Lauda, the team’s non-executive chairman, has since confirmed.
“We are already in touch with him to renew his contract,” the Austrian said.
“All the speculation of bull**** Marko is absolute rubbish.”
In addition to wild speculation about their future driver line-up, Mercedes have also had to contend with conspiracy theories from some fans that they are favouring Rosberg’s title challenge with Hamilton having experienced more unreliability from the all-conquering W05 so far this year.
“I hate this discussion because both guys from day one have the same cars, everything is equal,” Lauda insisted.
“There have been eight Mercedes engines here [on the grid in Hungary] and Lewis’s failed. So it’s not a question between Nico and Lewis – eight engines and one failed and unfortunately it was Lewis’s.
“These things should not fail, we’re going to fix them, but there’s nothing here [untoward]. We want both to have the same material and they can race each other the way they want.”
Lauda, a three-times World Champion, also predicted that there would be no lingering fallout from race day at the Hungaroring when Hamilton decided not to heed a team instruction to let Rosberg past him as their divergent tyre strategies crossed paths.
“I’ve been very happy, nobody had any problems,” the Austrian added. “I have to see if there are some but I doubt it because everyone goes on holiday anyway and drivers forget quickly. After holiday they start completely normal again.”