Niki Lauda plans to defuse the rivalry between Mercedes-GP drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and reintroduce cordiality and good manners between them before next month’s Canadian Grand Prix.
In the wake of Rosberg’s triumph ahead of Hamilton in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, Lauda, the Mercedes team’s non-executive chairman, said he and the team were not prepared to tolerate the sullen behaviour that was seen on the podium and in the aftermath of the race.
The Austrian said the pair had overstepped the mark by refusing to behave in a sporting manner and by not speaking, and compared their behaviour with how he had behaved towards Alain Prost when he had driven alongside the Frenchman in 1984 at McLaren.
“I spoke to the drivers before the race and it is not finished,” said Lauda. “I understand all the comments and I have to wait two or three days, but before it goes to Canada it will be solved.
“I will speak to them like I always do. They always call me when they have problems, so I think it will sort itself out.
“It is normal. I had the same with Prost, I hated the guy, but at least I said hello in the morning. There are certain limits and these certain limits I can reintroduce because I speak their language, the drivers’ language, and they do understand me. They like me and there is no issue.”
Lauda, who won the drivers’ world championship three times, said that he and the team had been most offended by Hamilton’s surly behaviour after the race and in front of a global media audience.
“What I did not like, and I have to say, and I will tell him this, is that when you are up there [on the podium] and you don’t say hello to your teammate, which Nico has always done, that is not good.
“It’s not because I am well educated, but it’s for the brand Mercedes. This is something I start to worry about now, but it’s easy to fix.”
Rosberg’s win from pole position, his first against Hamilton in open racing this year, lifted him back on top of the drivers’ championship and ended the Briton’s run of four wins.
Hamilton had been upset after Rosberg had gone off in qualifying, a mistake that had the consequence of denying Hamilton a chance to go for pole position.
“Lewis not happy finishing second is normal,” Lauda said. “But in the end he has to accept another guy was quicker. This is very simple in racing.”