Ferrari’s Mattiacci not bothered by Niki Lauda’s comments

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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.

Al Unser Jr. to race Pikes Peak Hill Climb for first time in 29 years

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Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. is coming out of retirement to race again.

Unser Jr., who turns 56 on April 19, will compete in the 96th Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 24. It will be the first time Unser has raced at Pikes Peak in 29 years, since the 1989 event.

Unser won the Hill Climb and was named “King of the Mountain” in the 1983 event.

Unser said in 2007 that he was retiring from racing and had no plans to race in the future. However, he has taken part since then in some selected vintage racing events.

Speaking of vintage cars, Unser is slated to drive a 1936 Chevrolet Sedan in this year’s Hill Climb, according to race organizers.

He’ll compete with a number of luminaries including eight-time Hill Climb winner Paul Dallenbach; Layne Schranz, who will be competing in his 25th “Race to the Clouds”; 23-time champion Clint Vahsholtz; 25-time Hill Climb competitor David Schmidt II and three-time Climb winner Spencer Steele.

Unser recently returned to IndyCar racing as a consultant with Harding Racing, which is beginning its first full season in the series with Gabby Chaves behind the wheel.