Newly crowned F1 Drivers champion Nico Rosberg’s decision to retire from professional racing so soon after inserting his name in history next to illustrious former winners such as Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost, took most people by surprise and for good reason. I for one thought winning his first drivers championship would give him a thirst for more success, however he left his sport and profession on top and surely that’s a sports personality’s dream.
The big question the media has been trying to second guess the answer to, is who will fill the racing seat vacated by the German driver. The ideal pick and perhaps the most competitive would be current McLaren driver Fernando Alonso.
Although he is at the rather ripe age of 35, the Spaniard still remains one of the fastest drivers in the sport, and arguably the best on the grid if put in a competitive car, which Ferrari failed to provide him with and McLaren are still working on.
However there are a couple stumbling blocks that will probably get in the way of such a move, Alonso is on a lot of money at McLaren and Mercedes would have to fork out a considerable amount to bring him to the Silver Arrows. The second factor, and most important is the fact that Alonso and current Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton have a fiery history, to put it lightly.
The pair have never seen eye to eye, and in the past whilst both at McLaren, and whether Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff is willing to control what’s likely to be an even more tempestuous then the previous driver lineup remains to be seen. It’s a potential recipe for further headaches during the 2017/18 season but a move that would excite F1 fans. Though in the last couple days it appears the Spaniard has ruled himself out and talked up his commitment to the McLaren team.
The second and less risky choice might be for Mercedes to make a move for Williams Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas. The 27 year old frequently showcased his driving qualities finishing 4th during the 2014/15 season and 5th during the 2015/16 season, seasons in which he also bested his more experienced teammate Felipe Massa. Similar to his fellow countryman Kimi Raikkonen, Bottas is one of the more reserved driver’s on the grid. All his talking is done on the race track, outside of that he largely keeps himself to himself. As a result, it’s the logical choice for Totto Wolff, in Valtteri they’ll have someone capable of being competitive alongside Hamilton, but also someone who won’t be as confrontational as a Alonso might’ve been.
Another German remains in the thoughts of the Silver Arrows team, four time drivers champion Sebastian Vettel has merely one year left to go on his Ferrari contract and teaming him up with Lewis Hamilton is a mouthwatering option for the team. However as mentioned he has a year to go on his contract, so talks of using Bottas as a stopgap have been mentioned, whether there’s any truth to them remains to be seen. But bringing in a four time champion and a German one at that could be to good for the Wolff to pass up on.