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.
Alex Palou was named a Formula One reserve driver for McLaren Racing on Thursday, confirming the end of a prolonged battle for the IndyCar champion and the F1 team.
The Spaniard, who won the 2021 IndyCar championship for Chip Ganassi Racing, last July said he was declining to return to Ganassi next year and instead would drive for McLaren.
Ganassi held an option on 2023 for Palou, who wanted to move to McLaren for a shot at motorsports’ highest level. The fight for the driver dragged into September through mediation, where it was decided that Palou would finish his contract and also be allowed to do F1 opportunities with McLaren.
Palou, 25, since has tested for McLaren, and he made his F1 debut at the United States Grand Prix in October when he drove the first practice session.
In his role as a reserve driver, Palou will support McLaren whenever it does not conflict with his responsibilities in the final year of his IndyCar contract with Ganassi. He officially will move to McLaren at the end of the upcoming IndyCar season and drive either for Arrow McLaren SP in IndyCar or move completely into an F1 role.
“I’m excited to be part of the McLaren team as one of their reserve drivers in 2023,” Palou said. “I can’t wait for the involvement with next year’s car. I look forward to continuing my development as a driver and I appreciate the trust McLaren have in me with this new role next year.”
Palou has four wins and 15 podiums through three IndyCar seasons and is the only Spaniard to win the championship.
“The team are pleased to have Alex on board as one of our reserve drivers for next season,” said Andreas Seidl, McLaren team principal. “He impressed with his FP1 session in Austin and his driver development tests this year.”