In the wake of Nico Rosberg’s stunning decision to retire from Formula 1, only days after realising his childhood dream of becoming World Champion, has caught everyone by surprise and not least his very own team.
Mercedes F1 chairman Niki Lauda was as shocked as most in the F1 world about the news and admits that the decision by Rosberg leaves the World Champion team in a quandary.
“Finding a replacement for Rosberg is a real problem. Our driver pairing was the best we could have. We knew what we had with Lewis and Nico.”
In June this year Mercedes renewed Rosberg’s which was set to run until the end of 2018.
As Rosberg clicked Post on his Facebook page to reveal his intentions, which we report here>>>, he also triggered a frenzy of speculation regarding who will replace him in the most coveted seat in Formula 1.
Gerhard Berger told Auto Motor und Sport that he “would call Alonso or Vettel” for the job.
But most of the top drivers are tightly contracted to their current teams and it is hardly likely that they will be released to fill the berth with the world champions.
The team does have options with junior drivers such as Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein, but many question their readiness to race with a top team. The rookies would perhaps do well to point a finger at Max Verstappen’s sensational promotion from Toro Rosso to Red Bull.
Valtteri Bottas might fancy his chances of being released by Mercedes powered Williams, to join the Silver Silver Arrows where his manager Toto Wolff is the big boss.
“[Nico] caught us on the wrong foot,” admitted Lauda. And added, “Race drivers stop when they want to stop. You can not influence them from the outside.”
The Austrian himself quit the sport abruptly after practice for the 1979 Canadian Grand Prix, when he informed Brabham that he wished to retire immediately, as he had no more desire to “drive around in circles.”