The Mercedes non-executive director is wary of the challenges posed by the sport's huge regulation shake-up for next season, despite his team being marked out as one of the favourites.
But with F1 facing its biggest rule change for many years, Lauda has joined a host of other figures in stating that it may not necessarily be the quickest car that will come out on top.
Instead, as Alain Prost suggested earlier this year, Lauda thinks that a priority for all teams must be in ensuring that their cars get to the chequered flag each time.
When asked by AUTOSPORT if he believed Mercedes could win the title, Lauda said: "Nobody knows. But the target has to be reliability.
"Who has the most reliable piece of engine, gearbox and car will win the championship.
"Next year is not speed, it is reliability. It is what we all have to work for."
Mercedes' status as a works team has left it as one of the clear favourites for 2014 success - with customer team McLaren reckoning it will be the strongest outfit
And although Lauda has stopped short of stating that it should be a contender, he admitted the new regulations do give the German team a chance to end the domination of F1 by Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull.
"It is a big challenge and a big opportunity to go ahead again," he added. "But this challenge is on the side of the engine, gearbox and car so I think it is a different thing to the last couple of years.
"I am looking forward to it."