Lauda: Team-mates bound to clash

Published: Monday 13th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Niki Lauda is fully expecting Nico Rosberg to turn “nasty” at some stage after accusing the German and team-mate Lewis Hamilton of being “egocentric b*******”.

Hamilton spearheaded a Mercedes one-two at the Shanghai International Circuit, claiming his fourth Chinese Grand Prix victory and the 35th overall of his Formula One career.

Rosberg, though, effectively accused Hamilton of selfishness during the post-race press conference after the reigning champion slowed in the middle stint of the race to preserve his soft tyres.

That backed up Rosberg who had Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel closing in from behind, forcing him to bemoan the situation to the team over the radio, who responded by asking Hamilton to increase his pace.

Rosberg made his feelings plain to Hamilton immediately afterwards, yet the 30-year-old was completely exonerated of any wrongdoing.

As far as Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda was concerned, the actions of Hamilton were that of a driver with a winning mentality.

“We were first and second and I don’t care if there is a quarrel, as long as Vettel was third,” said Lauda.

“One thing is clear from my point of view, Lewis had pole position and controlled the race from the beginning to the end, therefore there is no need for a quarrel.”

Asked whether Hamilton had the right to be selfish, Lauda replied: “Sure, he will drive selfish.

“These guys…I call them egocentric b*******, and this is the only way to win a championship. It’s the oldest thing.

“There is no friendship out there. When you race you have to fight, that’s it.”

Lauda rightly noted Rosberg opted not to attack Hamilton for the win, instead wanting to preserve his own tyres and hang on to second.

The three-times champion, however, believes Rosberg will hit back at some stage, adding: “Nico will calm himself down.

“For sure, when you are being beaten by your team-mate it hurts. When I was being beaten by (Alain) Prost all the time I was not happy.

“On the other hand Nico is a guy who comes back quickly, so thank God there is only one week to the next race (in Bahrain) so all this talk will stop quickly when they start driving again on Friday.

“Of course, Lewis bites, he has the talent to bite, but Nico is as nasty as he is if he sees the chance. Don’t worry.”

It means Rosberg could respond in Bahrain, the scene of their titanic on-track duel last season which sparked their at-times bitter rivalry which culminated in their collision in Belgium.

For now, Hamilton holds a 13-point cushion to Vettel, with Rosberg a further four points adrift.

Overall, Hamilton said: “I’m really happy. It was a great race and really positive to have a clean weekend throughout every session.”

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fourth ahead of Williams pair Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso 12th and Jenson Button 14th.

Button had finished 13th, but was handed a five-second post-race penalty for an accident with Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado that ended the Venezuelan’s grand prix.

In his first race with Manor, after missing the first two due to issues, Will Stevens was 15th, finishing ahead of team-mate Roberto Merhi.

Published: Monday 13th April 2015 by The News Editor

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