F1 Hungarian Grand Prix: Niki Lauda denies Sebastian Vettel rumour as Lewis Hamilton sets the early pace

Lauda denies Vettel rumours in no uncertain terms as Hamilton races ahead

at the Hungaroring

If Lewis Hamilton really was remotely concerned or destabilised by feeble rumours being put around here on Thursday to the effect that his Mercedes team was offering lucrative blandishments to Sebastian Vettel to drive for them from 2016, he showed no sign of it yesterday.

Hungaroring is one of his talisman tracks – he has won here four times since his rookie season in 2007 – and somehow it just clicks with his driving style.

He was fastest in yesterday’s two practice sessions for tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix – albeit only by a couple of tenths of a second from rival and team-mate Nico Rosberg, who recently secured his own future with the team at least until 2016, possibly longer.

Hamilton received pithy and unflinching support from his biggest fan in the paddock, Niki Lauda, the triple world champion who, as non-executive chairman of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, lured him there in the first place at a time when everyone thought he was insane to leave McLaren.

“Absolute bullshit,” said Lauda succinctly when asked about the Vettel rumours. “I can tell you that nobody from this team had spoken with him. Why would we want to? We already have the two best drivers. Why would we want to change that?”

Earlier in the week, however, the Austrian’s legendary candour had got him into trouble. The man who won world championships with Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, alongside sporting chief Luca di Montezemolo (now the Scuderia’s president), was obliged to apologise to him via La Gazetta dello Sport for derogatory remarks he had made in the wake of Sunday’s German Grand Prix when he described Ferrari’s current car as “shit”.

“I was wrong and I do not make any excuses,” Lauda said. Yesterday morning he also apologised to team principal Marco Mattiacci in the Ferrari pit here.

“Everybody is free to make comments,” Mattiacci said. “I have the utmost respect for Niki Lauda. For me, he is an iconic figure from my childhood, and in particular for Ferrari.

He came to our pit to apologise. I honestly felt very uncomfortable that I should receive an excuse from such a champion who has been put in the middle of something.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix “It’s clear he is a friend of Ferrari, and again I have the utmost respect for Niki, so chapter closed.”

Lauda had the last laugh, however, for once again, Mercedes’ performance on the track was uncompromising. Ferrari, together with Red Bull, McLaren and Williams, battled hard in their wake on another short track where further work was needed initially to hone the cars to behave themselves without their now-banned front and rear interconnected (FRIC) suspension systems.

There was not a lot of grip either, as the track had yet to receive a rubber coating from the passage of racing cars.

But yet again nobody else was really in Mercedes’ league.

Hamilton, sounding relaxed, admitted: “We struggled with poor grip on track today. I don’t know if that’s down to the tyres or the track itself but it was quite bad throughout both sessions.

Read more: Hamilton hungry for Hungary success
Mercedes open talks with Hamilton after securing Rosberg
Ecclestone announces F1 return to Mexico

"It’s going to be important to get a good grid position on Saturday as it will be difficult to follow cars on this track and it’s always tough to overtake here.

“We have some work to do overnight to ensure we get the best set-up for the weekend as we’re not fully comfortable with the car just yet, but our race pace looked OK.”

Suggested Topics
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living