Mercedes can fight top three in 2013 claims Lauda 10 February, 2013 Niki Lauda Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel is the best, but Mercedes can be a top-three contender in 2013, claims Niki Lauda, the triple world champion who is the straight-talking expert pundit for German television RTL. But he is also now Mercedes’ 10 per cent shareholder and board chairman, and despite an up-and-down Jerez debut for the new Brackley-built W04, Lauda sounded optimistic about the future. “My big joy is that the Mercedes can now compete with the top three teams,” he told Bild newspaper. But Lauda acknowledged that world champion Vettel, who drives for Red Bull, is still in front. Asked to assess the opening four test days of the 2013 pre-season, he said: “The cars are relatively close together. “In my judgement Vettel is the fastest at the moment. The car works well; looks reliable, and right now he is a bit faster than the rest.” Meanwhile, Lauda dismissed the plight of F1′s struggling smallest teams, who are complaining that the financial situation is putting their survival at risk. “Anyone who comes into formula one – the highest class – chooses to,” said the outspoken Austrian. “So I have no pity when a team gets into financial problems. I don’t know what everyone’s getting excited about. “The Spanish team (HRT) just did everything wrong they could do wrong. They were poorly organised and had a bad car. “It’s right that if you do a good job, you earn more money. Simple as that. “Now and again, over the past 30 or 40 years, formula one has had financial problems, and just like before it will settle down again,” added Lauda. (GMM) Related NewsRosberg: Lewis didn’t let me by, obviously not goodHamilton: I am hired to be me and race my heart outMercedes: We will not punish LewisMercedes rethink team orders after Hungary fiascoMercedes: The call came out of panicHamilton: Very, very shocked to get order to let Nico passLauda: Lewis was right, the call was unnecessaryHamilton pushing for three year €90 million contractHamilton: It’s been a pretty crazy weekendMercedes: It was a difficult afternoon Odd Lord Vettel is the fastest at the moment. The car works well; looks reliable, and right now he is a bit faster than the rest.” Sure Lauda… :s thats why he wasn’t on top.. i dont understand why this 3million year old dinosaur is still crawling arounf the paddock. the picture above perfectly shows how sour and miserable this clown actually is. If i were ever to meet him in a dark ally i would put the rest of his face on fire, just to get rid of the annoyig parasite that he is. McLarenfan @Odd Lord I think you are rather out of order I think he is not right as the 3 top cars McLaren Lotus Ferrari but those times are irrelevant and we know Newey fawx it would be a shame if mercs deliver a good car. esp just after michael left the team. grat @odd: Well, let’s see… end of Jerez in 2012, Rosberg had the fastest lap time, and we see how well he did. In fact, of the top three, only Kimi put up competitive times in Jerez. @fawks: What, you want Mercedes to fail, just because Schumacher walked away? It’s not like he didn’t have the option of renewing his contract after Monaco (and it’s not like he didn’t know what Mercedes was working on for 2013). Schumacher decided to retire. Let him. fawx naw. not damning mercs to fail or anything but it would be kinda wasted for schumi.