herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Lauda backs Hamilton move to ignore orders

NIKI Lauda claims he would also have ignored Mercedes' team instructions if he had been in Lewis Hamilton's shoes during yesterday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

Mercedes appear poised to ban such orders after telling Hamilton to allow team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg to pass him at the Hungaroring.

Running third and fourth at the time on lap 51, both drivers were still in the hunt for the win, albeit Rosberg was on a completely different strategy and required Hamilton's compliance in order to take the chequered flag.

Hamilton, however, stood his ground, going on to finish a remarkable third following his pit-lane start, whilst Rosberg had to settle for fourth.

Hamilton's actions now appear fully justified given his finish behind race winner Daniel Ricciardo in his Red Bull and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, closing the gap to an unhappy Rosberg to 11 points in the standings, even if he was acting out of personal interest rather than for the team.

enormous

Despite that, Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda, a three-times champion said: "First of all, I have to defend the team. The team was under enormous stress because the race was a very difficult one, no question. Mercedes has been used to being in the lead and (with the drivers) racing against each other. This race, with the safety car at the start and the wet conditions, was a completely different one.

"So every minute you had to decide something different, and in this stress the team told Lewis he should let Nico by because he was on softer tyres and had to come in (pit again) anyway. But in Lewis' position he was clear if he (Rosberg) had been in the DRS zone, Nico one second behind, he would have let him by.

"But Nico never got that close. Therefore I understand why Lewis questioned the decision. He is fighting for the championship. Looking back, Lewis did nothing wrong from my point of view. If it had been me, I would not even have answered the radio."

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