Lauda: We are in the group with McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus

Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda watches preseason testing

Mercedes has taken an important step forwards since the end of the 2012 season, claims team shareholder and chairman Niki Lauda, as Nico Rosberg expects race wins later this year but Lewis Hamilton plays down expectations.

“We’re not looking at wins at the moment,” Briton Hamilton, who has moved from McLaren over the winter, said after testing the new W04 late last week in Barcelona. “As I’ve said, we’re hoping to be fighting in the top ten.”

Most insiders believe Hamilton’s caution lies somewhere between pessimism and reality. Triple world champion Lauda, at least, sounds more confident.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton in action during Barcelona testing

“I don’t mean that we are better than Red Bull,” he told Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo. “It seems they again have the fastest car. But we have taken an important step forwards compared to last year,” added Lauda.

“Our car was born well, with no chronic problems, and with great potential to develop it, which is what we’re doing. I think we have put ourselves in the group with McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus,” he said.

“The differences between us are very small, as is the difference between the group (of chasing teams) and Red Bull.”

Lauda thinks Hamilton is preparing to over-deliver on his expectations for his first season with Mercedes.

“I believe Lewis saw the challenge to win with Mercedes as great, but probably less now than what he (first) imagined,” said the famous red cap-wearing Austrian. (GMM)

  • Butterfly

    Barely.

  • bunko

    I said this before, but again… how does he know that? from the recent tests? It’s OK to be optimistic, but this is too presumptuous. He says too many things like these, like how he said Jaguar would be fighting at the top. Merc needs much less talk like these which will bite them back if they end up fighting in the middle pack again.

  • NeoGeoH

    Better to under-promise and over-deliver than the reverse. Niki would be well-served to remember that he is not just sounding off as an ex-driver anymore, he is an employee of the team, in fact he is the Chairman. And if I were him I would be choosing my words perhaps a bit more carefully, so they don’t have a negative impact on me or the team in a few months.

  • lio

    Same group doesn’t mean SAME PACE lol

  • grat

    @bunko: In theory, he’s looking at the engineering data, and getting a good idea of where the W04 is compared with the cars at the end of 2012. In theory.

    Then again, he was right about Jaguar… just off by a couple years and a name change. As Red Bull, the team is most definitely fighting at the top. ;)

  • bunko

    @grat- I don’t think we need to theorize what data he has. I’m quite sure he has data on the W04. But I’m also sure he does not have data from Mclaren, Ferrari, Lotus to assume their in the same “group”. I really hope he’s right. But they will look very stupid again if they get bundled down the middle pack again.

    You’re right, Jaguar did end up on top. 6 years after the name, engine, and tyres changed. May be Merc will be champions on 2018 :)