Niki Lauda has made it clear that he supports Lewis Hamilton’s decision to ignore the instruction to move over for Nico Rosberg in Hungary.
Lauda admitted that the call had resulted from “panic” on the pit wall, but agreed that Rosberg was never really close enough to justify any help from Hamilton.
“Mercedes was used to being in the lead and race against each other,” said Lauda. “This race, out of the safety car in the beginning and the wet conditions, was a completely different race, so every minute you had to decide something different. In this stress the team told Lewis he should let Nico by, he’s on softer tyres, and has to come in anyway.
“But in Lewis’s position it was clear that if he had been in the DRS position, Nico one second behind, for sure he would have let him by. But Nico never got that close, so therefore I do understand that Lewis said, ‘Why? Why should I stop now in the middle of the circuit to let my team colleague by?’
“He’s fighting for the championship anyway. From my point of view, Lewis was right, and why the call came, this happened out of the panic, and we had to make up for what we were losing. Ricciardo was the best today, unbelievable drive, Red Bull, enormous car performance under these conditions. Alonso did a perfect job to go for the right strategy for second place, and the Mercedes team was fighting all that. So the call was unnecessary afterwards, but it was made. So what. And Lewis ignored it, and finished third. So looking backwards, nothing wrong, from my point of view.
“We want both to have the same material and they can race each other the way they want. I think is important that Lewis said, ‘No, I’m racing my team mate anyway.’ So he did the right thing.”
Lauda said he understood why both drivers were unhappy afterwards: “It’s completely normal from drivers that they want to be one in front of the other, so the reaction of the drivers for me is completely normal. For sure Nico was not happy with the passing at the end of the straight, where Lewis stayed on his line, which is normal.
“This happened in Bahrain 10 times one way or the other. I think when everything comes down, there was nothing wrong. It was good racing, this is for me the most important thing, between the Mercedes guys and the rest.”