NOVEMBER 27, 2016
Lauda has one fear for title showdown
Niki Lauda says he is feeling relaxed ahead of Sunday's title showdown -- except for one "fear".
"It's been three perfect years," said the Mercedes team chairman, referring to the fact that the German squad is guaranteed the drivers' title in Abu Dhabi.
"First one (driver) is faster, then the other. But for me they are absolutely equal," Lauda told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Asked if he feels nervous as Nico Rosberg bids to win his first world title ahead of pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on Sunday, Lauda answered: "Me? It will be a race like any other.
"The important thing is that there are no technical problems. It's my only fear," the triple world champion added.
However, another fear might be that, with so much dominance since 2014, the Mercedes board might soon get sick of funding the F1 programme.
Indeed, there have been rumours that Mercedes will pull out after 2020 to focus solely on Formula E.
Lauda answered: "We are 100 per cent committed to formula one and there is no plan to exit. Absolutely not."
But he admitted that 2017 is a brand new challenge for Mercedes, with the rules changing so significantly.
"When there are new things, some engineers can be the best interpreters of the rules and gain an advantage," said Lauda. "Who knows?
"We will find out when we see the new cars on the track."
One possibility is that his old team, Ferrari, could return to winning ways in 2017, and end Sebastian Vettel's run of apparent tension.
"It is normal when you have a car that does not win that you are not happy," Lauda said when asked about Vettel's current mood.
"But with the change of regulation there is a good chance to be competitive again. And not just the Ferraris. When you're in trouble, a change can be the best for overcoming problems.
"But I have the feeling that Ferrari will be better next year. (Sergio) Marchionne is pushing a lot," said Lauda.