Lauda: ‘Half the grid has called, can’t stop answering my phone’

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It’s a tough situation that Mercedes AMG Petronas find themselves in but not one that is debilitating. The team have lots of options and as 

Mercedes non-executive chairman, Niki Lauda, told Gazzetta dello Sport that Rosberg’s shock retirement has left the team “disorientated” and that he only found out about the decision shortly before the public was made aware:

“A few hours before the public announcement. He told us by phone. I took it badly, I didn’t expect it, nobody in Mercedes imagined that he had had enough.

“At first I didn’t believe it. ‘Nico, what you told us, are you kidding by any chance? It’s a joke?’ But he said it was all true. Quite incredible.

“When I won the first title I immediately thought about how I would win a second. Not the case with Nico.

“Rosberg’s decision has left us disorientated and unprepared, and all those who contributed to Nico winning the world title took it very badly.”

Mercedes has Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wherlein in the wings but the former just announced a new deal with Force India and the latter seem sto be what Lauda calls a “risk”.

“We have lost a champion, the best driver of 2016,” added Lauda. “It won’t be easy to replace him because all the drivers of a certain standard have contracts with other teams.

“Taking a young driver is a risk, we don’t know if he will be strong. Practically half of the grid have offered themselves.”

Interetingly, Lauda says his phone has been wringing with calls fom half of the grid about taking up Nico’s vacant seat. 

Hat Tip: Gazzetta dello Sport

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Achim
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Achim

I’m not surprised everybody is calling. And in the end it does not hurt to ask. Worst thing that can happen is that they say “no”. Ok, it could be worse. They could also just laugh and hang up. But I’m sure Pastor is used to that by now … ;-))

jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl

“all those who contributed to Nico winning the world title took it very badly.” – that’s a reminder from Lauda that F1 is a team sport. There will be a lot of people in Mercedes F1 who have put a lot of time and effort into Rosberg’s career. For them the sudden decision to retire will seem like a bit of a let down, they probably expected Rosberg to kick on and help maintain Mercedes dominance.

Schmorbraten
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Schmorbraten

No, *team* means it’s not about any single member of the team. He’s been there for 7 years! He beat Schumacher, and just before he finally gets his hand on a car that’s a championship contender, they go and hire his arch-nemesis. Without Hamilton he’d be a triple WDC by now. There are lots of WDCs out there who surely wouldn’t have won against Hamilton as their team-mate.

Jason Smith
Guest
Jason Smith

That is an excellent point and one that I hadn’t considered. Now I wonder if there was some behind-the-scenes politicking in the design of the 2017 car that inherently favored Lewis. Enough to make Nico say “F this, I’m out!”

Wiesdom
Guest
Wiesdom

Considering Merc favoured Nico, I should assume the car would had been built for Nico!

Big Red
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Big Red

On what planet did Merc favor Nico? It’s Hamilton’s world and Nico just lived in it.

Jason Smith
Guest
Jason Smith

Thanks for handling that.

jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl

Well, not quite “No”, there are always key members in any successful team, replacing them takes time and energy from the rest of the team. But that aside, I agree with your other point, bringing in Hamilton must have been a kick in the groin after the job he’d done with the team until then. I’m glad he got one wdc and three wcc as a reward for sticking in and competing so strongly with Hamilton.

TheFaust
Guest
TheFaust

Nico owes MB nothing at this point. He did everything that was asked of him and worked as a diplomat (read not throwing pissy little tantrums) when required. I thought it would be fun watching him run as a world champion. I believe we will see him around here and there.

jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl

I’m not disagreeing with his decision to quit, just wanted to highlight that the impact is wider than just setting off a frenzy amongst other drivers for the seat.
Among others, those five mechanics who were transferred into Hamiltons team must be wondering where this leaves them ;-)

7stringjazz
Guest
7stringjazz

Quitting like he did just shows the fires don’t burn as hot as Hamilton’s, Alonso’s, and Vettel’s IMO. It finally dawned on him that even with the best car he would always be #2 as long as Hamilton is his teammate and both cars were reliable. He lucked into this one and knew it would be his only one. It’s also pretty clear that Nico is Phil Mickelson to Hamilton’s Tiger Woods. Like Tiger, Hamilton has more talent, more desire, and more ruthless in achieving his goals, than Rosberg. Hamilton may be a prima donna, but he is the quicker… Read more »

jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl

Hi 7, I was with you until the view that Rosberg ‘will go down as a tragic figure’, and his retirement is ‘an embarrassment for the sport and its fans’. The first point seems like a harsh judgement on anyone with the talent to compete in F1 and win a wdc, does that mean everyone who’s not Hamilton is tragic – Vettel, Alonso, Ricciardo, Massa, Button, etc, etc? And where’s the embarrassment? If your views, that he can never do better than #2, are correct, isn’t Rosberg doing the right thing? He’s got lots of other opportunities in his life.… Read more »

7stringjazz
Guest
7stringjazz

i just thinks it’s disgraceful to quit the team, give no warnings that might help them prepare, and basically deprive the sport and its fans the chance to see a title defense. However unlikely it would be for Nico to repeat, it’s his duty baring health, to do so IMO. His failure on multiple fronts hardly makes him a gentleman as some seem to think. I think he was never as passionate about racing as you have to be in F1. Hence he quit. And let’s be clear. He quit.

jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl

Not a Rosberg fan then?
Yeah, dropping his retirement on the team at short notice is a bit naff, but otherwise, I don’t see much to criticise in his actions.

TheFaust
Guest
TheFaust

Sorry to see Nico go. I cant wait for the book.

TheFaust
Guest
TheFaust

Lauda to Boullier…I will swap you one Lewis for one Fernande, one Jenson and a few million $$ for you team that cant come up with a title sponsor. Lets have lunch, on me.

Wiesdom
Guest
Wiesdom

And then Merc ends up being a dog and McLaren a beast. Knowing Alonso’s luck this will happen and then Merc will be stuck with a $50m a year bill and one very moody Alonso HAHAHAHA!!

TheFaust
Guest
TheFaust

You have been watching Lewis and Fernando is the one thats moody? Pass the crack pipe.

Tom Firth
Guest
Tom Firth

Hopefully Toto got plenty of phone calls too from interested parties, otherwise that’s going to an awkward staff Christmas meal… who is the real team boss ;-)

Graeme Fuller
Guest
Graeme Fuller

Pastor joins Mercedes, Lewis is heard to say, “Strange, I wonder what’s causing all the accidents?” In other news JB sits in Alonso’s chair and says “This is the best part of the innovative 3 driver strategy, maybe I see how camera work goes?” and somewhere else on the grid the young annoying dutchman pulls off an amazing pass and steals the vacant seat at Mercedes.

Max Johnson
Guest
Max Johnson

I think you underestimated how strong Red Bull leash is.

The Late Idi Amin
Member
The Late Idi Amin

Only half the Grid? Niki went on to say ” I’m surprized that anyone managed to get through with Lewis calling and txting me with suggestions.”

E Ram
Guest
E Ram

Maybe bottas has an option?