Niki Lauda says he believes Lewis Hamilton was right to ignore team orders during the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was told to move over to allow Rosberg through as his team-mate was on a different strategy. However, with both drivers fighting for the world championship and ultimately battling each other until the end of the race, Lauda said he understood Hamilton's decision to defy the team and stay ahead.
“I have to defend the team,” Lauda said. “The team was under enormous stress today because the race was a very difficult one, there is no question. Mercedes has been used to being in the lead and racing against each other. This race, with the safety car at the beginning and the wet conditions, was a completely different race. So every minute, six seconds, you had to decide something different.
“In this stress the team told Lewis he should let Nico by because he was on softer tyres and has to come in anyway. But in Lewis's position he was clear that if he had been in the DRS position, Nico one second behind, for sure he would have let him by. But Nico never got that close. Therefore I do understand that Lewis said 'why? Why should I stop now in the middle of the circuit to let my team colleague by.' He is fighting for the championship anyway.
“So from my point of view Lewis was right. And why the call came, this happened out of the panic and we had to make up for what we were losing. Ricciardo was the best today. Unbelievable drive. Red Bull – enormous car performance under these conditions. Alonso did the perfect job to go with the right strategy for second place, and Mercedes was fighting all that.
“Therefore the call was unnecessary, afterwards, but it was made. Lewis ignored it and finished third, so looking backwards nothing wrong from my point of view.”
And Lauda said it was natural for Rosberg to be unhappy about the situation but was pleased with the racing between the two.
“It is completely normal between drivers that they want to be in front of the other. So the reaction of the drivers is completely normal. Nico was not happy with the passing at the end of the straight, where Lewis stayed on his line, which is normal. This happened in Bahrain, ten times one way or the other. When everything comes down there is nothing wrong. It was good racing, which for me is the most important thing.”