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Lauda: 'Mercedes can fight top three teams'
Sunday 10th February 2013, 10:02 by TF1T Staff
© Mercedes AMG F1 Team
Niki Lauda says Mercedes can now fight the top three teams in 2013, despite their woes last season which saw them finish fifth in the constructors' championship.
The Austrian, who is a shareholder and non-executive chairman of the team, believes Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel may have the edge at present, but he's optimistic Mercedes will be on the pace come Australia.
"The cars are relatively close together," Lauda told Bild. "In my view, Vettel is the fastest at the moment. The Red Bull works well and looks reliable. He is a bit faster than the rest, but my joy is that Mercedes can now compete with the top three teams," proclaimed the 63-year-old.
He brushed aside concerns that Mercedes lost vital testing time following problems for both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, which saw them complete just 30 laps between them on their debuts in the W04.
"The tests are there so you can eliminate errors," he added. "Nico and Lewis have been so busy in the final days. The two failures on the first days were made up for."
Meanwhile he dismissed concerns about the financial state of the sport and how it impacts the smaller teams. This comes at a time when Mercedes' expenditure has rapidly increased.
"Anyone who comes into F1 - the highest class - chooses to. So I have no pity when a team gets into financial problems.
"It's right that if you do a good job, you earn more money. Simple as that."