During the 2015 United States GP, Niki Lauda revealed his role with the German TV Formula One broadcaster, RTL, may end this season. RTL made it known earlier this year they were considering dropping F1 from their programming, due to falling viewer numbers and the high price demanded by Ecclestone. A new contract beyond 2015 was eventually agreed, though inside rumours suggest the price for the FOM broadcasting fee was slashed.
There has been some disquiet amongst German F1 fans about how Niki Lauda’s has handled the multiple roles of ‘independent’ TV pundit, Chairman of Mercedes AMG F1 and President of the Lewis Hamilton fan club.
In recent weeks there have been rumblings within the Mercedes team about Lauda’s pejorative comments about Hamilton and Rosberg and the less than objective manner in which Niki has been conducting himself, given he is the Chairman of the board. So Lauda’s comments in Austin came as no surprise, given the Mercedes hierarchy in Stuttgart apparently wants the public Niki – reigning in.
Following the race in Austin, Niki Lauda gave his usual round of media interviews while Toto Wolff post-race duties were canceled and he was rushed from the circuit. A Mercedes PR spokesperson made it clear to reporters that Lauda is not an official team spokesperson, unlike Wolff.
There have been other suggestions that Niki Lauda could rejoin the Scuderia in some kind of ambassadorial role. He is still revered in Maranello for his contribution alongside a young Luca di Montezemolo in turning around a failing Ferrari F1 team in the mid 1970’s.
Lauda’s career both on track and afterwards has regularly demonstrated that Niki is a character who causes tension wherever he goes. This may explain the fact that longevity of employment is not something evident on the Austrian’s CV.