The speculation continues this week regarding a suitable replacement for Nico Rosberg at Mercedes. The team have been relatively neutral with their comments to the press and for good reason, most of the drivers they’d like to pursue currently have contracts and Mercedes know that any poaching will be a complex issue and most likely expensive.
The obvious choices of Pascal Werhlein or Esteban Ocon are not so obvious as placing a young driver next to 3-time champ Lewis Hamilton will not be a guarantee they will replicate the points-scoring finishes that Lewis and Nico enjoyed. Niki Laura said that the youngsters may be a “risk”.
With many Formula 1 fans taking to social media voicing their opinion on who should replace Rosberg, Fernando Alonso is a front runner. Mercedes said they value Fernando as a driver but as he has a McLaren contract, they would need to be sensitive to that issue. McLaren’s Zak Brown says that Alonso is happy where he is but there is little doubt he’d like to snatch the seat of a championship-winning dominant car like Mercedes but then almost all the drivers on the grid would like that seat.
Williams F1 driver Valtteri Bottas is another name being discussed along with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel but in a press conference Sunday in Daytona, Sebastian told me that he and Kimi Raikkonen have contracts for next season so their future should be quite clear.
Contracts can be bought out or sometimes they are porous enough with performance clauses that would allow drivers to take other offers. The complexity is who will be the best fit for Lewis and Mercedes and who will perform at the level the team expects as well as cost the least to dislodge from their current contract?
It’s the hottest seat in F1 and the decision will be very intriguing indeed.