Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci has brushed off comments from Niki Lauda about the team’s 2014 car, saying that the Austrian’s comments were taken out of context.
Three-time world champion Lauda said in a recent interview that Ferrari’s F14 T car was “s***”, as the Italian marque struggles to keep up with Mercedes at the front of the field. So far this year, the team has scored just one podium finish, and currently ranks fourth in the constructors’ championship.
Lauda did apologize to Mattiacci in Hungary for making the comments, and the Ferrari team principal said in Friday’s FIA press conference that he was not bothered by what had been said.
“Everybody is free to make comments,” he said. “I’m happy that they have time to think about our cars because I don’t have enough time to think about other teams’ cars.
“I think it’s a statement taken out of context. He has a big title and, as I said, I have the utmost respect for Niki Lauda. For me, he is an iconic figure of my childhood and particularly for Ferrari.
“Today he came to our pit to apologize. I think it’s clear he is a friend of Ferrari and I have the utmost respect for Niki, so chapter closed.”
Mattiacci also praised lead driver Fernando Alonso for his efforts at the last two grands prix, where he has enjoyed some brilliant on-track battles with Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo.
“I think when you see your driver that is driving like that, that is very motivating for the team,” he said.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.