Niki Lauda and Nico Rosberg were perceived allies at Mercedes last season, but since the German’s shock retirement, the relationship has taken a sour turn.
Niki Lauda felt that the decision has left the Mercedes Formula One team between a rock and a hard place and that had Rosberg been clearer about his intentions should he win the title, Mercedes would have had more time to find a replacement. Lauda said,
“What annoys me the most is that now Nico is telling us that he would have continued had he not won the world championship. This is something he could have at least hinted at when he signed his contract. In this case, we could have prepared a Plan B — we would have had to in order to be ready. But it is as it is.
We all gave him the opportunity to become world champion in a fantastic car — and then he tells us he wants to retire.
This has created a huge hole in this great working team. And we’re left looking dumb.”
– Niki Lauda
Lauda was left looking even dumber when Rosberg replied to the three-time World Champion’s comments, a grilling retort of historical context came from Rosberg, who leaves the sport without a defending World Champion on the grid in 2017.
“Well the entire time I was talking a lot to Niki and (he was) completely different from the way he acts in the media. I think that is because of his disappointment, which I can understand. It’s what made this decision the hardest for me because I know that I brought hard times upon my racing family.
I knew that would happen, that was the hardest part and that is exactly why one hour after I decided to retire I told (Mercedes boss) Toto Wolff, to give them as much time as possible to find an alternative.
But to say I deserted the team? Well, not really. I can’t only drive because of the team.
And on top of that — Niki quit during a race weekend in 1979 in the middle of the season and he was younger than me. Maybe he forgot about that.”
– Nico Rosberg
Lauda did leave during a Practice session in 1979 without warning before the Canadian Grand Prix. Maybe the Austrian racing legend is angry because he has lost his favoured Mercedes driver. Either way, Lauda’s main job this season has been relaying discord to the press regarding the two driver’s that Mercedes have worked with over the last few season’s, which is beneficial in that it gets the team into the headlines, but unfortunately reveals an environment of poor communication and mild, self-destructive vitriol.