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.
© RIF | GMM