Nika Lauda has spoken out against rumours linking reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel to Mercedes for the 2016 season, in a move which would ultimately see Lewis Hamilton forced out of the German marque to recreate an all-German line-up.
Prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix around Budapest’s Hungaroring, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko confirmed that the Austrian outfit had already received offers for the services of Vettel from both Mercedes and McLaren, with the German’s contract expiring at the end of the 2015 season.
With Hamilton’s contract expiring at the same time, many have come to the conclusion that Vettel would replace the 2008 World Champion at the German marque alongside Nico Rosberg, with the Briton either joining Red Bull, Ferrari or even returning to McLaren.
Naturally such rumours have been denied by both Mercedes and Hamilton, the latter of which has insisted that both he and the team wish to extend their partnership with a contract extension similar to Rosberg, who signed a multi-year deal prior to the German Grand Prix last month.
The German marque’s non-executive chairman, Niki Lauda, has confirmed such wishes and has also strongly denied any rumours of Sebastian Vettel joining the outfit.
“We are already in touch with him [Hamilton] to renew his contract,” Lauda explained to Sky Sports. “All the speculation of bull**** Marko is absolute rubbish.”
The former Formula One driver has continued to state his strong dislike for the conspiracy theories currently circulating within the sport, after Hamilton’s string of poor luck in stark contrast to team-mate Rosberg.
At the German Grand Prix the Briton suffered a brake failure which resulted in an incident during qualifying, whereas at Hungary Hamilton’s Mercedes caught fire during qualifying which resulted in him starting both races towards the rear of the order whilst Rosberg sat proudly on pole position.
“I hate this discussion because both guys from day one have the same cars, everything is equal,” insisted Lauda. “There have been eight Mercedes engines here [in Hungary] and Lewis’s failed. So it’s not a question between Nico and Lewis – eight engines and one failed and unfortunately it was Lewis’s. These things should not fail, we’re going to fix them, but there’s nothing here [untoward]. We want both to have the same material and they can race each other the way they want.”
With the sport currently entering the traditional summer break before reconvening at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgian Grand Prix, the gap between the Mercedes drivers at the top is only 11 points in Rosberg’s favour. However, with Hamilton clearly stating his awe-inspiring ability to scythe through the field despite several woeful qualifying performances, there is no doubt that the duo will continue to battle neck-and-neck for supremacy right to the final round at Abu Dhabi in November.
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