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Lauda runs the rule over the 2010 title duellists

As a man who knows what it takes to win the F1 World Championship from his three successes in 1975, 1977 and 1984, Niki Lauda is well-placed to offer his verdict on the current protagonists doing battle for title glory in the top flight...
Former triple world champion Niki Lauda has offered his assessment of three of the F1 2010 title protagonists as the campaign speeds towards what promises to be a mouth-wateringly nail-biting conclusion – opining that Sebastian Vettel is like Lewis Hamilton circa 2007/08, and that for all of his flaws, Fernando Alonso remains 'the best driver' on the grand prix grid.

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza last weekend closed the title race right back up again as Belgian Grand Prix stars Hamilton and Mark Webber respectively crashed out on the opening lap and finished a delayed and frustrated sixth, whilst Alonso, Jenson Button and Vettel – all of whom had failed to score for various reasons at Spa-Francorchamps – took the chequered flag first, second and fourth. That means that heading to Singapore for the first of the final five 'flyaway' outings later this month, the crown-chasing quintet are all blanketed by just 24 points.

Whilst Lauda reckons Red Bull Racing remain in pole position to lift the laurels given the sheer speed of the Adrian Newey-designed RB6, the Austrian fears costly mistakes like those in Turkey, Hungary and Belgium will write Vettel out of the reckoning, suggesting the young German is committing the same kind of errors that Hamilton did during his own formative years at the highest level.

“Sebastian is very fast, but he needs time to learn not to make so many mistakes,” the 25-time grand prix-winner told Spanish newspaper El Pais. “Hamilton has matured a lot [now] and makes not many mistakes, despite being incredibly aggressive. Today, Lewis is far more complete. Red Bull has had many ruined races, especially with Sebastian, but their car is the best and they're the team to beat. McLaren has been too inconsistent, Ferrari as well.”

On the subject of the Scuderia – with whom Lauda claimed two of his three drivers' world championship trophies in 1975 and 1977 – the 61-year-old sought to play down recent remarks attributed to him criticising the team, reasoning that whilst the Hockenheim team orders row did leave him with a sour taste in the mouth, he still believes double F1 World Champion Alonso is the cream of the crop in the top flight.

“I don't have a problem with him at all,” he insisted. “First, from my point-of-view, he is the best driver currently in F1. There's no-one like him — not Vettel, or Hamilton, or any of the others. The only criticism I've had is when he was at McLaren, and now with the team orders at Ferrari.

“You can't do what he did after Germany — when he came out and said he knew nothing about what happened on the track. He tried to convince people that he had no idea what his team had done from the pit wall. That's all I've criticised.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Race, Press conference, Fernando Alonso (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari, F10 race winner and Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25 2nd position
Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari, F10 race winner and Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25
Race, Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB6 2nd position
Race celebration, Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25 race winner
Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari, F10 and Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB6
Friday Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB6 ans Adrian Newey (GBR), Red Bull Racing , Technical Operations Director
Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari, F10 race winner
Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari, F10 race winner
Race, Press conference,  Fernando Alonso (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari, F10 and Felipe Massa (BRA), Scuderia Ferrari, F10 and Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB6
Niki Lauda (AUT), Malaysian F1 Grand Prix, Sepang, Kuala Lumpar, 21st-23rd, March 2008
Toro Rosso unveils new look STR12
Toro Rosso unveils new look STR12
Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull Racing
Red Bull R13, car launch, [Credit: Red Bull]
McLaren MCL32 [credit: McLaren Twitter]
Williams Martini Racing FW40
Antonio Giovinazzi - Sauber F1 Team

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mikey - Unregistered

September 14, 2010 12:35 PM

Green Monster like your dreams Lewis only won in 2008 because he was racing Massa, and who is massa really Button won with the car ion 2009 and if anyone is going to win it is Webber also down to the car the only driver in the top five in the standings is Alonso and bite the crape that the TV talk about the Ferrari being second quickest when to be fair Alonso is out dfriving the thing and thats why his now sitting in third and why he has a good chance of winning the WDC

Tealeaf - Unregistered

September 14, 2010 4:16 PM

@ Whither Alonso Totally agree, alonso's hands were tied behind his back for the last 3 races of 2007 and even after that right at the end they were level on points with 4 wins each so pretty much a draw when they 'were basically racing fernando'

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