Vienna, Tuesday: Former F1 driver and outspoken pundit Niki Lauda has shocked journalists today by declining to comment on a number of stories currently circulating in the F1 world.

Laud: The uncharacteristically silent Niki Lauda

Lauda, who won three world championships between 1975 and 1984, has been renowned in recent years for his brash, uncompromising attitude and lack of reservations over saying what he thinks. His opinions are often widely published in the motorsports press, such as in 2007 when he called Lewis Hamilton “the next big thing in F1,” and in 2008 when he called Lewis Hamilton “an overrated waste of space.”

However, with little in the way of Formula One news at present, journalists hoped to goad Lauda into saying something controversial about Michael Schumacher’s return to Formula One with Mercedes. The Austrian did not put anything on the record, citing “no need to talk about what has already been talked about over and over again.”

“This is truly baffling behaviour from Niki,” one F1 news analyst commented. “Over the last twenty years or so, talking about what has already been talked about over and over again was one of the hallmarks of Niki’s punditry. The kind of ill-informed, speculative, angry and entirely contradictory stream of quotes is exactly what we at Planet-F1 have been relying on for years.”

Concerns have been raised that Lauda may be feeling unwell, given the sudden and extreme nature of his departure from his usual personality.

When asked about Lauda’s unwillingness to cooperate, former F1 champion Jackie Stewart also shocked reporters by telling them to “go away.”