Lauda denies big money has led to Mercedes dominance early in the V6 turbo era

Niki Lauda with Christian Horner

Niki Lauda with Christian Horner

Niki Lauda has dismissed claims that Mercedes is set to dominate the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship season because the German manufacturer has spent more on the development its new turbo V6 Power Unit than other engine suppliers.

“It is no secret,” Renault-powered Lotus’ team owner Gerard Lopez said this week, “that we face an extremely well-resourced rival in Mercedes who have dedicated considerable efforts to their Power Units for the 2014 season.”

Red Bull’s Christian Horner added this week: “[Mercedes] invested more, they invested earlier.”

Ex Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger told the APA news agency: “[Mercedes] are ahead of the game because they invested more money.”

Mercedes F1 V6 turbo power unit

Mercedes F1 V6 turbo power unit

And even Ferrari is claiming it has been out-powered in the resources department by Mercedes as Formula 1 makes its revolutionary technical shift.

“If we had more time,” boss Stefano Domenicali told Italy’s Autosprint, “maybe we would be more prepared for the start of the season.

“The complexity of this project is really high and our resources are, so to speak, limited.”

Domenicali said that on the other hand, Mercedes has “more specific” engine-related “firepower”, that has “exaggerated” the early phase of Formula 1’s new era.

“It is clear that they have been in a position to arrive at the start having solved all the problems that we have only [just] found,” the Italian insisted.

Niki Lauda watching proceedings during Jerez test

Niki Lauda watching proceedings during Jerez test

But Lauda, who is Mercedes’ Formula 1 Chairman, disputes the claim that Mercedes is so far ahead.

“We will only know when the first three races are over,” he told RTL television, “but I think Ferrari is on roughly the same level as Mercedes.

“The only one that really struggles at the moment is Renault. They do not have the reliability that we have, simply because we have done a better job.

“But that has nothing to do with money,” Lauda insisted.

Told, however, that Mercedes has clearly invested more than its rivals in the development of its new V6, the great Austrian answered: “No.

Mercedes launch their 2014 campaign

Launch of the 2014 Mercedes F1campaign

“Our team is the same as it has been; the investments for all three engine manufacturers are the same. Nothing has changed in the basic structure of the three companies,” said Lauda.

He also thinks that Renault is probably not far away from solving its problems, however dramatic the French marque’s situation appears.

“We all know that in Formula 1, rapid development jumps are possible,” said Lauda.

“And if Renault just has software problems, their recovery could be really fast.” (GMM)

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