Mike Stevens | Oct 5, 2010

Niki Lauda has backed Fernando Alonso to win the 2010 World Championship.

Spaniard Alonso is 11 points behind championship leader Mark Webber's Red Bull, but the Ferrari driver has won two Grands Prix on the trot from pole.

Triple World Champion Lauda was highly critical of Alonso throughout the Hockenheim team orders affair, but he has now told Osterreich newspaper that the 29-year-old is poised to win a third title.

"Why?" the Austrian asked rhetorically. "Because he has twice been champion, and not by chance. He is the best driver today.

"When you assess together a driver's speed, intelligence, ability to take risks efficiently to score maximum points always, he is simply the best," said Lauda, 61.

Lauda also said Australian Webber has "surprised everyone" this season with his consistency.

But he thinks the Red Bull driver will only beat Alonso if his car is "clearly superior" to the Ferrari.

And despite his misgivings during the team orders saga, Lauda said observers can only respect Ferrari at this decisive phase of the championship because "they will do everything possible to bridge the gap separating them from Red Bull".

1996 World Champion Damon Hill, however, fears that Alonso's 2010 title might be tainted by his inherited victory over teammate Felipe Massa in Germany.

"There will be people who feel that points should have been taken away from Ferrari and Alonso," he told the Mail on Sunday.

(GMM)

 

Schumacher Comeback 'A Disaster'

Michael Schumacher's decision to return to Formula One this season was "a disaster", according to his former Ferrari teammate.

Eddie Irvine, who openly acknowledges he lacked the talent to beat the German during their time together in the late 90s, thinks the 41-year-old should now admit it is he who is struggling for raw pace.

"On paper, his return wasn't a bad idea," the Ulsterman told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview.

"But he had already lost something in 2006, when Felipe Massa was often in front of him. Three years later he has lost even more.

"The result? It's a disaster," said 44-year-old Irvine.

He said Schumacher should stop making "excuses" for struggling to keep up with Nico Rosberg in the sister Mercedes.

"It's 'this is a new team, with new people'. But in his first year at Ferrari, the car was rubbish but he won three races," said Irvine, who in the sister car finished the 1996 World Championship in tenth place.

In contrast, Rosberg is currently seventh in the W01, three places ahead of Schumacher.

Irvine also countered suggestions that Schumacher is good at building a team, for example by leading the path on development matters.

"Ferrari took him for his talent; he had no idea about how the car was behaving.

"Michael is a great driver; you can give him a suitcase with four wheels and he'll drive it quickly. Schumacher's strength is the driving, that's all," said Irvine.

(GMM)

 

Citroen waiting for Raikkonen's F1 decision

Citroen is waiting for Kimi Raikkonen to decide whether to stay with the French marque in the World Rally Championship next year.

The Finn is reportedly considering returning to Formula One in 2011 with Renault, while some insiders believe he is much more likely to stay at least another season in his new discipline.

Benoit Nogier, Team Manager at the Citroen Junior Team, said the door is open for the 30-year-old.

"At the moment there is no commitment from Kimi for next year," he told French radio RMC.

"Up to now he has showed appreciation for what he is doing and the desire to continue.

"He is the master of his destiny so it's up to him to tell us if he wants to be with us next year or not. I will be very happy to welcome him if he wants to continue," Nogier added.

He said there is no great rush for Raikkonen to decide.

"We're not talking about a deadline because it's too early. As the days go by you eventually reach the time to make a decision," he said.

Follow Mike Stevens on Google+