Lauda: Mercedes is the most innovative new car
By Forumula1.com Staff on Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Niki Lauda has tipped Mercedes to flirt with the top positions in 2012. After Februaryâ€™s winter group tests, rivals and pundits are now assessing the likely pecking-order less than two weeks before the season opener in Australia.
â€śMy feeling is that McLaren and Red Bull are almost equal,â€ť triple world champion Lauda told Austrian television ORFâ€™s Sport am Sonntag programme. â€śThe big positive surprise is Mercedes. They have chosen a different way.
â€śThe nose is relatively small, making the car look quite different to the others, because they have the (front wing innovation) F-duct. â€śFor me, itâ€™s the most innovative car, and it also looks to me as through the (F-duct) mechanism works very well.â€ť
Lauda said a strong Mercedes will be the first real test for Michael Schumacher since the great German returned to F1 in 2010.
â€śItâ€™s a very important year for him,â€ť he said, â€śbecause for the first time he and us will really know the answer to how he stands against Rosberg. Michael needs to prove to us all how good he really is â€” which of course is difficult, since logically you do not get faster with age.â€ť
Meanwhile, Lauda agrees with speculation sweeping the F1 world about Ferrariâ€™s current pre-season crisis.
â€śTheyâ€™re behind, no doubt about it,â€ť said the Austrian. â€śThe car is pretty unstable, slipping at the front as well â€” I think they could be two or three tenths behind the top three. At the beginning of this year, thatâ€™s quite a lot.
â€śIn Alonso they really have a top man, but if the car is too far behind then he canâ€™t do anything about it, especially as he has a not-so-strong teammate in Massa who is not going to push him.â€ť