Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has backed Lewis Hamilton’s decision to ignore team orders during the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who started from the pitlane, was running third behind Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso in the final stage of the race, when his Mercedes team ordered him to allow his team-mate Nico Rosberg, who still needed to stop again, through.
Despite repeated calls from the team, the 2008 champion refused to concede the position, eventually coming home third, behind Ricciardo and Alonso and half a second ahead of his team-mate.
Former-champion Lauda though has defended Hamilton’s refusal to allow Rosberg past, insisting that the issuing of the team order was a mistake, one that came from a moment of panic for Mercedes.
“I have to defend the team,” said Lauda, following Sunday’s race.
“The team was under enormous stress because the race was a very difficult one, there is no question.
“This race, with the Safety Car at the beginning and the wet conditions, was a completely different race. So every minute, six seconds, you had to decide something different.
“In this stress the team told Lewis he should let Nico by because he was on softer tyres and has to come in,” he added. “But in Lewis’ position, he was clear that if [Nico] had been in the DRS position, one second behind, he would have let him by. But Nico never got that close.
“Therefore I can understand that Lewis said, ‘Why? Why should I stop now in the middle of the circuit to let my team colleague by?’ He is fighting for the championship anyway.
“So from my point of view Lewis was right. And why the call came, this happened out of the panic and we had to make up for what we were losing.”
Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS