Marko playing games with Vettel claims Lauda

Niki Lauda with Helmut Marko

Niki Lauda with Helmut Marko

Mercedes boss Niki Lauda has accused fellow Austrian and Red Bull rival Helmut Marko of playing games to secure the services of world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Earlier in Hungary, the paddock was alight with speculation Vettel has been made offers – some outrageous – to switch from Red Bull after the 2015 season. The source of the report was undoubtedly Marko.

“I don’t know which sources Helmut has, or doesn’t have, but they seem to vary, let’s say,” Vettel said in Hungary.

Lauda, the team chairman at Mercedes, categorically denied he is out fishing for a potential new teammate for Nico Rosberg.

“I know absolutely for sure and clearly that we have not made any offer to Sebastian,” the triple world champion is quoted by Speed Week.

Lauda, 65, accuses Marko – the Red Bull figure most directly in charge of developing, signing and re-signing drivers – of playing contract poker ahead of negotiations with Vettel over his services for 2016 and beyond.

“What is Helmut doing?” Lauda asked rhetorically. “He is closing Sebastian’s doors, by forcing people to make these public denials. But I am sure Sebastian will eventually figure it out and ask him: What are you doing?” (GMM)