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