Ferrari crisis is exaggerated claims Lauda 14 March, 2012 227 Ferrari F1 team manager (at the time) Luca di Montezemolo with Niki Lauda in 1976 Mar.14 (GMM) It is already being described as a “crisis”, but former Ferrari driver and world champion with the team, Niki Lauda is sure the team’s situation is not all that bad on the eve of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. “The Italians always exaggerate,” the triple world champion, who won two titles with the famous Maranello team in the 70s, is quoted by German RTL television. “Everything is either great or everything is negative. I don’t think the Ferrari is as bad as it’s being made out. “I do know that the McLaren and Red Bull are very similar and Mercedes follows closely behind. Then comes Ferrari – but things can change very quickly,” added Lauda. As ever in Ferrari’s high-pressure Italy, however, the stakes are high and every episode is amplified – such as when comments made by Felipe Massa apparently contradicted Pat Fry’s prediction that an early podium is unlikely. “In my head is the thought that we can fight for the podium,” Brazilian Massa insisted after landing in Australia this week, “but that doesn’t mean that I don’t agree with what Pat Fry said in Barcelona.” Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, admitted Ferrari has no choice but to initially “grit our teeth” until the F2012 improves. “First of all, we have to see exactly where we are in terms of being competitive and then give our all to bring home as many points as possible in this early stage of the championship,” said the Spaniard. Subbed by AJN.