Former triple world champion Niki Lauda has hit out at Ferrari’s Jean Todt for acting insincerely and disrespectfully on the Australian GP podium.
The 58-year-old Austrian, who won his first two drivers’ titles for the Maranello based marque, watched the Melbourne ceremony from the foot of the podium as a commentator for the German TV station RTL.
Lauda heralded Kimi Raikkonen’s win from pole and observed that Ferrari has handled “the transition from (Michael) Schumacher to Kimi perfectly”.
But he hit out at team principal Todt’s antics on the podium, accusing the Frenchman of feigning a close relationship with ‘iceman’ Raikkonen, 27.
“I have to condemn his behaviour,” Lauda said, pointing out that Todt has often compared his relationship with Schumacher as fatherly, which was developed over more than a decade through handfuls of constructors’ and drivers’ championships.
Lauda said of Todt: “He was acting as if his best buddy Schumacher had just won.”
After the champagne-soaked celebrations, reporters asked Todt about his relationship with Kimi.
“It is professional and friendly, and everyone can see that Kimi smiles much more than in the past,” he said.
“Everyone is really happy. I really enjoyed being on the podium with him.”