'2018 will be even more difficult' - Lauda
21 November 2017 – Niki Lauda has heaped praise on Mercedes for securing both world titles for a fourth successive season, though expects to be challenged further by rivals in 2018.
Mercedes wrapped up both 2017 championships early, securing the Constructors' crown at the United States Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton following suit a week later in Mexico.
However, Mercedes was pushed hard by Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari over the first half of the campaign, as the battle ebbed and flowed, before the Scuderia fell back amid a tough sequence of Asian races.
Given Ferrari's improved form, and Red Bull's in-season gains, Mercedes Non-Executive Chairman Lauda says he will take nothing for granted heading into 2018, despite enjoying the team's latest success.
"For the fourth time in a row, I'm in the fortunate position to say 'thank you' to the entire team," said Lauda, looking back on the season.
"2017 has been a challenging year because of the rule change. A rule change always means uncertainty; no one knows what the other guys are doing.
"We started with a difficult car, but the team was able to consistently improve it throughout the season, which was the key to winning the championships.
"The team did a fantastic job and Lewis did a fantastic job. I'm really proud of everyone, it's an incredible achievement.
"This year was the most difficult one so far and next year it will be even more difficult, but I trust the team 100 per cent!"
Hamilton received a guard of honour as he returned to the Mercedes factory in Brackley as a four-time champion on Monday and underlined staff efforts.
"This has been an incredible year, it's been an incredible journey together," commented Hamilton.
"There's a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone.
"I've been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me.
"Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100 per cent, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
"This is the best championship year, because we've been fighting another team and because we've had the difficulties and challenges we've had."