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Lauda questions Brawn's team orders

ESPN Staff
March 27, 2013 « Massa sees himself as title contender | Red Bull problems won't go away - Button »
Niki Lauda: "We need to talk to Ross, if this is the strategy to be used from now on" © Sutton Images

Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has criticised team principal Ross Brawn's decision not to let the team's two drivers race at the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg was told to hold station behind Lewis Hamilton in the closing laps of Sunday's race, despite being quicker than his team-mate and able to challenge him for a podium. Hamilton admitted Rosberg "drove a smarter and more controlled race" and deserved to finish in third instead of him, while Brawn defended his decision by saying he would have made the same call if Rosberg had been leading.

However, Lauda, who is a shareholder in the Mercedes team and one part of the uneasy triumvirate of power alongside Brawn and Toto Wolff, was critical of the decision after the race.

"From a sporting perspective, that was wrong," Lauda was quoted by the Times. "They should have let [Rosberg] go. We need to talk to Ross, if this is the strategy to be used from now on."

The comments will only add fuel to rumours that Brawn could be elbowed out of the team at the end of the year and replaced by ex-McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe. However, Wolff, who holds a larger share of the team than Lauda, was supportive of his team principal, even if he admitted the team orders were not great for the show.

"There was no controversy," he said after the race. "Both [drivers] had a bit of fuel issue and we were not sure if we could run them until the end and both of them were advised they had the issue. Nico showed that he is a fantastic team player and he held onto the position and we would have done it in the opposite way as well.

"It's not perfect from the sporting point of view it's not what the people want to see and not what I want to see, but sometimes you have to take a call and you have to make a decision and Ross did that. It's for the team bringing home third and fourth, but from a sporting point of view for sure it's not fantastic."

Asked if Rosberg could have chased down the Red Bulls, which were in an intra-team battle of their own in first and second, Wolff stressed that only Brawn had the data available to make the call.

"From the outside it's very difficult, even for me. I don't have the programme and the software and it's far more complex than just saying, 'Yes, we could have chased them'. It could have ended up in tears at the end and then you are the real idiot. So let's just be happy to bring back third and fourth in the end."