Newly-crowned Formula One champion Nico Rosberg issued a stinging rebuke to Niki Lauda after the Mercedes boss slammed the former for leaving the team in the lurch by announcing a sudden retirement from the sport.
Lauda had said that the German driver left Mercedes looking "dumb" after bidding adieu to F1 with immediate effect, barely a week after winning his maiden world championship title.
"We all gave him the opportunity to become world champion in a fantastic car -- and then he tells us he wants to retire. This has created a huge hole in this great working team. And we're left looking dumb," Lauda had earlier said.
Lauda insisted that had Rosberg hinted to them about his retirement earlier, they could have prepared a Plan B.
"What annoys me the most is that now Nico is telling us that he would have continued had he not won the world championship. This is something he could have at least hinted at when he signed his contract. In this case, we could have prepared a Plan B -- we would have had to in order to be ready. But it is as it is," Lauda said.
Hitting back over the comments in a question and answer session with fans on Facebook, Rosberg insisted that Lauda acts entirely different in the media before also pointing out the Mercedes boss' own shocking retirement from the sport in the middle of the season in 1979.
"Well the entire time I was talking a lot to Niki and (he was) completely different from the way he acts in the media. I think that is because of his disappointment, which I can understand. It's what made this decision the hardest for me because I know that I brought hard times upon my racing family," news.com.au quoted Rosberg, as saying.
Lauda had walked away from Brabham during a practice session for the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix, saying that he had no more desire to "drive around in circles".
"But to say I deserted the team? Well, not really. I can't only drive because of the team. And on top of that, Niki quit during a race weekend in 1979 in the middle of the season and he was younger than me. Maybe he forgot about that," Rosberg added.
Rosberg's career is well noted for his intense rivalry with fellow Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. Both have raced each other for 17 years starting from the junior formulas, with Hamilton always being the upper hand in the race till the 2016.
Rosberg started his career with Williams F1 team, for whom he raced from 2006 till 2009.
He later joined Mercedes in 2010 alongside seven-time World champion Michael Schumacher where he raced with till the end of his career.
Image: Germany and Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg looks on in the garage
Photograph: Lars Baron/Getty Images