Lauda supports Hamilton's call
10:42am Monday 28th July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Niki Lauda claims he would also have ignored Mercedes' team instructions if he had been in Lewis Hamilton's shoes during Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Mercedes appear poised to ban such orders after telling Hamilton to allow team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg to pass him at the Hungaroring.
Running third and fourth at the time on lap 51, both drivers were still in the hunt for the win, albeit Rosberg was on a completely different strategy and required Hamilton's compliance in order to take the chequered flag.
Hamilton, however, stood his ground, going on to finish a remarkable third following his pit-lane start, whilst Rosberg had to settle for fourth.
Hamilton's actions now appear fully justified given he has closed the gap to an unhappy Rosberg to 11 points in the standings, even if he was acting out of personal interest rather than for the team.
Despite that, Mercedes non-executive chairman Lauda, a three-times champion, said: "First of all, I have to defend the team.
"The team was under enormous stress because the race was a very difficult one, no question.
"Mercedes has been used to being in the lead and (with the drivers) racing against each other.
"This race, with the safety car at the start and the wet conditions, was a completely different one.
"So every minute you had to decide something different, and in this stress the team told Lewis he should let Nico by because he was on softer tyres and had to come in (pit again) anyway.
"But in Lewis' position he was clear if he (Rosberg) had been in the DRS zone, Nico one second behind, he would have let him by.
"But Nico never got that close. Therefore I understand why Lewis questioned the decision. He is fighting for the championship.
"The call, which came out of panic as we were trying to make up for what we were losing, was unnecessary.
"Looking back, Lewis did nothing wrong from my point of view. If it had been me, I would not even have answered the radio.
"It is important Lewis said 'no, I'm racing my team-mate'. He did the right thing."
Talks are due to be held between the drivers, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff and executive technical director Paddy Lowe, who made the call, to clear the air.
As far as Lauda is concerned, he feels this latest incident between the duo will have been forgotten by the time Formula One returns from its summer break in just under four weeks' time.
"I've been very happy with both of them," added Lauda.
"Everybody goes on holiday anyway, and drivers forget quickly. After the holiday everything is completely normal."