Lauda: Mercedes not against Hamilton

F1i 2/10/2016
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Hamilton trudges off the track at the Sepang Circuit.

Having enjoyed a clean start from pole in Sepang, Hamilton looked poised to re-claim the points lead with his team-mate Nico Rosberg out of position after an incident at the first corner.

However, the triple world champion’s power unit went up in flames with 16 laps to go, with a suspicious Hamilton later hinting that “something does not feel right”.

“I’m really upset about myself and my organisation because we shouldn’t let him down with an engine failure,” Lauda, who serves as Mercedes non-executive chairman, told Sky Sports F1.

“Engine failures can happen but we have to analyse more carefully what went wrong. It was a fairly new engine, so it was not something old we put in his car, so we did everything possible to make him finish all the races.

“What went wrong? I do not know, we will find out and correct it. I feel personally very sorry about him and these things can happen.”

It’s not the first time this year that suggestions about Mercedes’ bias towards Rosberg have surfaced in the light of Hamilton’s issues.

Motorsport boss Toto Wolff even confronted the rumours early in the season by branding conspiracy theorists as “lunatics”. Lauda remains confident he can reassure Hamilton that his team is supporting him.

“I can convince him and say certainly we do nothing against him. We are people working for him, we are proud of him and these things happen.

“From our point of view we do everything possible that he finishes the race and he has finished so many races, he won already two championships so on this side we are well balanced.

“Unfortunate that it happened to him, I will apologise and then we have to keep on going.”

Hamilton now trails Rosberg by 23 points, with the German recovering from his opening lap contact to third at the flag.

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Button's top five races

300 Man: Jenson Button

Jenson Button became only the third driver in Formula One history to feature in his 300th Grand Prix on Sunday, finishing in ninth place.

The Englishman reached the landmark previously crossed by only Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang.

Having begun his career 16 years ago in 2000, Button has since won 15 Grands Prix and one Drivers’ Championship in 2009.

Here’s a look at his top five races.

HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX, 2006

Button’s first win as a Formula One driver. The Englishman started 14th on the grid but wet weather and a safety car allowed him to slice his way through the field for a long-awaited finish at the top of the podium.

JAPANESE GRAND PRIX, 2011

The Brit was quickest in every practice session but narrowly missed out on pole position in qualifying to Sebastian Vettel. In difficult wet conditions though, Button was in complete control once he gained the lead.

BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX, 2009

Button has had better performances than this one over the years but it remains one of the most notable in career having clinched the Drivers’ World Championship at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit.

BELGIAN GRAND PRIX, 2012

Arguably his most dominant performance, the Spa circuit saw Button register his only pole position with McLaren. He led every lap of the race and stormed to an emphatic win.

CANADIAN GRAND PRIX, 2011

Arguably the finest win of his career and one for the books. Button overtook Sebastian Vettel in the last lap of Formula One’s longest-ever Grand Prix.

Do you agree with the races picked? Which is your favourite Jenson Button performance?

Tell us by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

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Malaysia Grand Prix top 10

Hamilton was leading with 15 laps to go when his engine exploded. “No, no,” cried the Englishman as flames appeared at the back of his car, leaving Ricciardo leading teammate Max Verstappen.

Championship leader Nico Rosberg survived a first-bend spin involving Sebastian Vettel and a 10-second penalty to take third place and extend the gap over Mercedes teammate Hamilton to 23 points with just five races remaining.

Hamilton was almost in tears with his head in his hands after the dramatic end to his race which has dealt a severe blow to his chances of securing a third drivers’ championship in a row.

He had looked all set to snatch back the lead from Rosberg, who was relegated from second on the grid to 21st after he was hit by Vettel on the first bend.

Vettel was forced to retire with a broken front suspension in the incident that also involved Verstappen.

Hamilton had got away cleanly form pole position and sped off into the distance, clear of the trouble behind him.

He looked to be heading for a comfortable win until his engine let go in the most spectacular fashion.

An ecstatic Ricciardo celebrated his first win of the season on the podium with a “shoey” — drinking champagne from his driving boot.

Verstappen, who turned 19 on Friday, celebrated his podium finish and his birthday by also drinking the sweaty cocktail.

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