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Mercedes boss: We won’t know Rosberg’s team mate until New Year
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Mercedes boss: We won’t know Rosberg’s team mate until New Year
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Dec 2009   |  9:57 am GMT  |  73 comments

Dr Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Daimler AG, which owns Mercedes has said that the team will not know who will partner Nico Rosberg until the New Year.

Picture 54
With speculation raging about Michael Schumacher making a comeback at the wheel of a Silver Arrow and suggestions that he may do an extended test in a GP2 car at either Abu Dhabi or Bahrain shortly to evaluate his recovery from neck injury, Zetsche said that, “We are struggling to announce a second driver. Who the second driver is, we will probably not know until next year.”

Zetsche was speaking to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport and although the notion of Team Deutschland is a powerful one, he said that it was “not a necessity” that the second driver is also German, “We are certainly glad to now be able to go with a silver arrow for our homeland, in Germany, too. Because it is certainly attractive when a German driver is at the wheel.

“It’s nice after so many years now without a German driver Nico Rosberg is driving for us. This is a great thing.”

Meanwhile today at a media lunch in Maranello, ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo revealed that he had spoken to Schumacher this week and that the German had revealed that there is a very strong possibility that he will take the Mercedes deal,

“He phoned me and he told me that there is a very, very, very strong possibility [of racing for Mercedes-Benz]. Having said that, it is not 100 per cent decided. But that is what he said yesterday morning,” said Montezemolo. Using a turn of phrase he coined for an off form Kimi Raikkonen in the past, Montezemolo spoke of a different Schumacher from the one he thought he knew,

“The real Michael Schumacher always told me he would finish his career at Ferrari,” said a clearly disappointed Montezemolo.

Schumacher’s arrival as a driver and brand ambassador for Mercedes would be a huge boost for Mercedes and although he has done some racing for Mercedes in the early 1990s, at the wheel of a sportscar, his F1 legend is built mainly on Ferrari. A season behind the wheel of the Silver Arrow F1 car, its first season in F1, would set the tone for a very strong ongoing partnership. At the same time it would be quite a loss to Ferrari, with whom Mercedes plan to compete in the road car market place.

Zetsche said that Mercedes is very pleased with its move to acquire its own team, “On the one hand, we have control of our motorsport involvement, which we have pursued in the past but not reached. Secondly, we have an outstanding base, both sporting and financially very cheap way to achieve great success for Mercedes.”

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73 Comments
  1. Stephen Kellett says:

    That is an amazing flavour saver Dr Zetsche has. Like something from a bygone era. Don’t see things like that too often these days, except on Aunty Queues Roadshow.

    Racing? Sorry, got distracted by the photo.

    You’ve got to hand it to their PR department. They really are milking this for everything it is worth.

    1. Renn Sport says:

      This is obviously a man who doesn’t feel he needs to emasculate himself by shaving to pander to popular media. He’s a real man’s man like Clay!

      I like the moustache and the gall of the man… to bring back Schumacher to Mercedes!!!

      Well done indeed!

      1. Rob says:

        That moustache is awesome!!!

      2. David says:

        Yes, apparently the German Air Force trains pilots to land that moustache as part of its basic training course.

      3. Renn Sport says:

        No no no… this is an old ground effect moustache from the Chapman era. This man generates serious traction in all business negotiations.
        Also a Chapman trait.

  2. Tarek says:

    I wonder if Kubica is still in the frame. But delaying the official announcement until the new year is probably related Michael Schumacher’s medical check-up, rather than other considerations. In any case, it will be a perfect, if rather belated, Christmas present from Mercedes to all of us Schumi fans out there! :)

    1. Kenny says:

      Tarek, I think a few teams are waiting to see what Kubica does…a Rosberg-Kubica line up would be potent IMHO. Kubica-Kobayashi at Sauber would also be interesting.

    2. Mario says:

      Yes, I think Kubica is still in the frame. But Shumi has a priority. They simply checking if he is 100%, so they need another two weeks maybe more.

      In case Shumacher is OK, Kubica either stays with Renault or goes back to Sauber where he can find himself in the vicinity of Ferrari influence due to the power unit.

  3. Manuel says:

    Give Kubica a seat.

  4. Steve M says:

    James, you quote Zetsche as saying that it’s “not a necessity” that the second driver is also German…

    Perhaps Robert Kubica is trying to get out of his contract with Renault? Surely, despite Schumi’s undeniable skill, Kubica is more realistic – and probably a better long term option given Schumi’s age?

  5. Michael C says:

    is the delay perhaps now also down to Kubica muddying the waters James? – choosing between the PR value (and probable continuing talent)of Michael and one of the (newer but not so) new stars would be a difficult choice – poor old Nick – I would sign the Sauber contract now I think.

    And to mess things up more – what if Felipe isnt up to snuff? – what on earth has the recent outing proved for him – what are these tyres he used James?

  6. F1fan says:

    James, I don’t believe than Schumacher will drive for Mercedes. It’s all just media hype.

  7. jw1980 says:

    It would be great if Schumacher does return. If not how likely would it be that Kubica joins Mercedes James?
    You have to say that the F1 driver line up for next year looks very promising. There are 7 vacancies left although essentially Mercedes and STR second drivers would appear to be in place (even if there is a small shortlist at
    Merc). Ths means that there are five places left. At the moment all drivers deserve their place. I am sure that Renault and Sauber will recruit worthy second drivers and the names linked with Campos Meta seem creditworthy as well. Lets hope USF1 have sensible driver choices. That seems to be the main worry at present….
    James any ideas on who will get the second Renault seat? That seems to be the best drive left on the basis that Mercedes are likely to employ Schumacher, Heidfeld or Kubica?

  8. jw1980 says:

    James,

    in connection with the previous post any chance of another British driver?
    We have two of the best at present but currently it looks like Germany may have 7 (!) and Brazil 4 drivers. Any chance for Carroll, Paffet or di Resta or anyone else?

  9. Lynchy says:

    This is just going to torture Schumi fans, I can’t stand it. Looks like they’re waiting for him to complete significant testing though!!

  10. Nicollers says:

    Makes you wonder why they didn’t offer the seat to Kimi when they had the chance! The Schumacher scoop may never happen and come the new year, there may not be a lot to choose from.

    1. Renn Sport says:

      They probably did but alas Kimi has his head stuck so firmly up his own… err ego that he couldn’t hear them.

      I have heard Citroen have a great icebox for Kimi with lots of different icecreams for the iceman.

      Ok enough with the icecream jokes.

  11. Tom Adams says:

    Thats an impressive moustache Mr.Zetsche has there..
    Why the delay with the announcement?
    Does Schumacher want to test a car first before committing one way or the other?

  12. JamesF1 says:

    The more I read about this the more I think it is likely to happen, yes for the reasons that Schumacher misses racing but also as James points out that Michael’s reputation post-F1 has all been about working for an Italian company. I can see the patriotic pull of being associated with Germany’s premier car builder being a strong attraction for Schuey when he retires (again).

  13. Matt says:

    So, Nick Fry ISNT the boss or Merc… i think someone should let him know.

  14. Mac says:

    Hear that Schumi is testing a GP2 car in Dubai today!!!!!!

    1. Renn Sport says:

      Lap times would be cool.

  15. Paul says:

    Even though the rumours are gathering steam, I still can’t see why Schumi would want to make a comeback. He will be 41 next year. If he is racing next year it will clearly only be for a year. There is nothing more than he could achieve now and he only stands to diminish his reputation if he has a poor season. No matter how good he is, Michael has been out of competition for 3 years and you would have to think that most drivers would struggle with that length of time away from the sport.

    Mercedes have a perfectly good driver in Heidfeld. If they aren’t happy with him they are well placed to secure Kubica.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well remember Nigel Mansell who was 41 when he came back in 1994 with Williams and won the final GP in Adelaide from pole (thanks to the MS/ Damon collision). He then started the 1995 season with McLaren age 41 and he wasn’t as fit as Michael

      1. Renn Sport says:

        Yes he looked like he had followed a strict diet, one which Montoya is exploiting right now.

        It must be a Williams thing.

  16. Paul Mc says:

    I see Dieter is sporting an F1 style front wing as a moustache.

    Nick Fry said they want Michael but have alternatives if It falls through.

    James in regards to the fitness test Michael has to go through, is there a requirement to drive an F1 car or it is gym based like other sports.

    1. James Allen says:

      Only to be able to exit the car in a required time. He has not suffered a head injury so doesn’t have to go through that test

  17. Alex Yarnell says:

    Surely just marking time until Robert Kubica’s situation at Renault becomes clearer?

  18. Adrian says:

    Some outlets are reporting that Schumi’s publicist, Sabine Kehm, has left Ferrari. James, have you heard anything on this? It would seem to add weight to a Schumacher-Mercedes tie-up don’t you think.

    On a personal note James, you’ve had the chance to get to know Michael quite well through the books you’ve written. How do you feel about his possible return to the grid?

    1. James Allen says:

      Well she has two jobs; press office of Ferrari Germany and press attache to Michael. I think the former is probably the one you refer to but I’ve been travelling today and have not had a chance to ask her.

  19. Jomy John says:

    So what happens if he isnt fit enough to drive an F1 car? Does he stay on with Mercedes or does he go back to being a Ferrari consultant?

  20. Kent Paul says:

    I love his moustache

    XXX

  21. Brace says:

    That’s a big mustache right there!

    To quote one Homer Simpson “People are beginning to suspect that you are trying to hide something.” :)

  22. Timem1 says:

    Given that the “new year” is less than 2 weeks away, this is a somewhat silly statement. everyone is out on holiday for the next two weeks. More time for us Schumi fans to make ourselves crazy wondering “what if?” lol

  23. Steven Ritchie says:

    Hi James – I’ve enjoyed following this blog, this year. I hope you keep it going in 2010.

    Do you think the Schumacher deal is actually done and they are delaying an announcement to keep anticipation up towards the car launch, or is it truly that it is taking time to untangle him from Ferarri and those sponsors?

    I also wondered if there was any news on a change of management for the likes of Mark Webber who were managed by Briatore? I remember the FIA said they wouldn’t grant a super license to anyone managed by him..

    Steven

    1. James Allen says:

      I think they need to be 100% sure his neck is okay before committing. On Webber everyone is waiting to see the outcome of Briatore’s legal action in Paris, decision due early January

  24. F1ART says:

    Looking at the comments coming from BE it looks like something is happening!

  25. Sebee says:

    I nominate Shumacher. Ralf Schumacher.

    Come on F1 faithful, you’d roll on the floor laughing if that happened, wouldn’t you?

    He is an F1 winner.
    And drives a Mercedes already.
    And is a Schumacher.

    They could do a lot worse. Honestly, Ralf or Nick? You know you’d go for Ralf. :-)

    1. Renn Sport says:

      Quick Nick everytime buddy.

    2. Tarek says:

      Ralf won a few races in cars that were capable of winning, and at his best he was probably a very good driver. But he was rarely at his best; sometimes he looked like an unskilled amateur on the track. Heidfeld has always been effective and consistent, but he is also an unspectacular (and boring?) driver, which is why he never drove a potentially championship-winning car. But maybe, given the chance, he could deliver for Mercedes what Ralf couldn’t over the course of a handful of seasons at Williams.

      1. RON says:

        Button also falls in the same driver category as Ralf… just proves talent is unrelated to WDCs now… any old clown can claim it now… just need the hand of the FIA on your backside.

  26. alex m says:

    Zetsche MUST be German for “Excessively massive Moustache”

  27. The Spirit of Rob Walker says:

    Scumacher won’t be able to dominate like he did in the past,
    if he does actually end up driving again. The competition is
    too strong now, and there are several drivers who can take
    Schumacher on and beat him in a decisive manner. Even worse, after the messes of last year, Schumacher would be
    under close scrutiny where his conduct ( read : cheating )
    is concerned, so there would be precious little chance of
    him getting away with any maneuvers such as he used in
    his past ( any such attempts would reflect poorly on Mercedes, and as such would probably be frowned on
    by management ).

    A clever CEO will install Schumacher in an “advisory” position, rather than as a driver, and will use him to best effect in that capacity. I expect this will be the outcome after the dust settles, and that there will be another driver instead of Schumacher ( Kimi comes to mind ) at the wheel of the Silberpfeil.

  28. The Limit says:

    Yet more ‘dangling’ by Mercedes. I keep thinking that they will announce Schumacher as Rosberg’s team mate when the unveil the 2010 car. I hope it is before then, because it seems to me that they are milking this story for all it is worth.

  29. James W says:

    That is a brilliant moustache on Zetsche…

  30. David says:

    What a moustache!

  31. George says:

    Wow, he’s like Dr. Theissen with a mustache upgrade.

    I still cant believe Schumacher would leave Ferrari, surely it will be a big loss to his brand to move away from the team he was most successful with (think about him standing next to a Ferrari sports car compared to a Merc), nevermind the damage that could be caused if he has a poor season, which is very possible considering the competition next year.

  32. Young Slinger says:

    …but Ferrari know, don’t they!

  33. OFC says:

    Schumi is coming back. Great news. Vettel is going to win championship. Alonso beats Massa, and Hamilton beats Button.
    Then in 2011 if Kimi is back he’ll win.

    See you next year. And don’t forget my predictions. It’s all gonna be true ;).

    1. Tom Adams says:

      You forgot about Villenueve in the Renault getting a couple of podiums..

    2. Maria Felix says:

      Just like Takuma Sato in a US F1 winning the Championship.

  34. Silverstoned says:

    Schumacher “a driver and brand ambassador for Mercedes”

    Sounds good does it not? I’ve read the many comments on previous posts but IMHO won’t happen. Even if Brawn has another technical loophole up his sleeve [most probably the case] IMHO Hamilton and Alonso are more than a match for the old legend, even in inferior machinery, and will have his ass.

    And that’s even before Killer Koby has taken a bite out of the Merc’s tail.

    1. Martin says:

      I have my doubts about there being another double diffuser situation. The aerodynamic rules are relatively static. A large section of the design team is gone too due to the downsizing. I saw one statement/quote suggesting the Brawn would look more like this year’s Red Bull, which probably means just a higher nose. Changing the wheelbase and weight distribution to match the fuel tanks and tyres won’t help in retaining the current car’s mechanical grip virtues. The same thing applies to McLaren (which used KERS to combat average aerodynamics).

      1. Silverstoned says:

        Well, something must be giving MS the sniff of an advantage…He’s not coming back to fight with Rosby for the odd point…..

  35. rpaco says:

    Didn’t this guy write some children’s books? Cat in a hat?
    It will be a bad decision for the team in terms of race wins, but good in terms of sponsorship and publicity. Schumi’s been away too long.

  36. Spencer says:

    Are they dragging this out for maximum exposure or are there still lots of I’s to dot and T’s to cross???

    Whilst I would love to see MS back, racing against Alonso in a Ferrari and Lewis in a McLaren, I have to say that I’m getting borred with the hype.

    It will be such an anti-climax if we end up with Heidfelt in with Nico.

  37. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    James, fascinating interview with Montezemolo today.

    Any thoughts about the interview regarding his comments about Alonso and Schumacher?

  38. SteveEarle says:

    That is one impressive moustache!! Is he wearing that as a means of testing Mercedes 2010 front wing whilst not floting the testing ban?

  39. John F says:

    To me all those latest development makes a lot of sense.

    Regardless if Schumi is racing in F1 next season or not, he is on his way out of Ferrari by the end of this year. And from all the comments Montezemolo did, there is no way back for Michael. And to be honest, Ferrari can do without him. They seem to think Alonso can fill the spot Michael left.

    Sabine Kehm, who worked at Michael’s spokeswoman for many years, has left Ferrari (which Ferrari have confirmed). That leaves her room to either work only for Schumi or move with him to Mercedes (I’m sure Mercedes would have a role for her).

    As for the delay in announcing the driver until 2010, either Schumi needs to complete more tests or (probably more likely) he still has contractual obligations to either Ferrari or their Sponsors, which will expire by the end of this year.

    Until this happens, he can’t sign and Mr. Mustache can’t announce the deal. Simple, isn’t it?

  40. Monktonnik says:

    Errr no.

    I’d take Heidfeld over RSC.

  41. Michael Nichol says:

    2010 Mercedes will not be competitive versus the Red Bull and McLaren cars. Schumi gets his butt kicked by Rosberg, and moves into management at year’s end. Vettel comes to Mercedes in 2011 and becomes a fixture at, or near the top of the championship standings at year’s end. Kimi stays in Rally and becomes a legend to the Finnish people!

  42. Vyas says:

    Its perfect timing for Schumi to reenter the sport. He’s got Ross Brawn at Merc and Jean Todt in FIA. And he is in a German team. What more could he ask for? :)

  43. Spyros says:

    James, if this happens (and I’m still hoping that it doesn’t) what are the chances that we will know Michael’s salary..?

  44. peter says:

    Schumacher joining MB GP makes absolute sense to me. Ferrari have Alonso now, and its not the same team as it used to be. He started his career with Mercedes sports cars and can have some fun in a “new” team without risking to much of his reputation. If he doesn`t win at 41 is not a big deal he still will enjoy driving. The move would boost the team PR/financially and from technical point of view in the same time they will be able to evaluate Rosberg and offer a drive to Kimi or Vettel when Schumi is gone. It will be a huge blow for Ferrari`s “family” spirit though. Merry Christmas!

  45. Stu says:

    I’ve been a Schumacher fan since his Benetton days but this story is so tedious. Sign or don’t sign just get on with it.

  46. Ethan X says:

    hehe looks like schumacher’s arrival back in F1 is making some haters nervous.

    Look guys,only a fool would bet against Michael Schumacher. Hope he does not end up with a winning car in 2010 cus or else its curtains for the rest of the field.

    Plus, I am amazed that people still think Ferrari will be a top team from now on ??
    When you take out Brawn,Byrne,Todt and Schumacher what is there left at Ferrari??
    The italian team will be lucky if they finish in the top 5 next season. I am totally serious when I say that !

    The Ferrari dream is over, even with the arrival of Alonso. well lets hope he (FA) can bring his 6 tenths next year becuase the team will defenitely need it !

    Like JV, Damon Hill and Irvine have recently said : ” Schumacher can start winning again where he left off in 2006 ”

    and if rubens Barrichello of all people can still win races in 2009 well then Schumacher can obviously win in 2010 , no question about that ……

    Go schumi ! your the best and will always be no matter the age …

    1. Maria Felix says:

      Such wonderful fanboy talk there, excellent post.

      I agree Ferrari may not be title contenders next year but its not down to some people leaving, its because there are smarter minds at rival design teams and that got their technical equalizer in 2009 from which its very hard to overthrown them again.

  47. carlm21 says:

    I hope they give the seat to Kubica. Him and Rosberg would be some team and one for the future. Michael Schumacher will only come back for a year or 2 and he’s had his chance. Time to give someone else chance.

    1. Maria Felix says:

      When you have drivers like Jaime who comes in with Repsol backing and does nothing else but crash every other time. Its better to give Schumacher the chance.

      1. carlm21 says:

        But with Kubica he has over 3 seasons of experience and he has had no way near as many crashes as Michael Schumacher. Kubica for me. Chance to snap him up before Ferrari do in next few seasons.

      2. Maria Felix says:

        Kubica has been matched by Nick more often than not, which makes Kubica’s value a tad bit hyped. Unless he pulls something special at Renault, he will not be in the same league as the likes of Vettel.

        Kubica has much to prove.

  48. M__E says:

    this game has gone on long enough! At this stage it has gone on so long that there will be ALOT of disappointed fans if it all turns out to be marketing exercise – it mzay well backfire when its alll over. I think ay yjis stage ut gonna happen now for sure – pending schumis test.

  49. john says:

    Willi Weber today said Schumacher is totally fit for racing.
    James what do you think of it?Has Schumi already passed the medical checks?

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