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.
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.”