Nico Rosberg sat down with a few of us this afternoon and promptly came out with the statement that this would be his last race with Williams.
“It is my last race for Williams,” he said. “It is a bit strange because for four or five years it is the only team I have worked with, so it has been a long time. I get on with everybody really well, obviously, and a lot of respect has built up – with the mechanics and everyone. So it will be quite strange to leave.
“I am not sure they can win races at the moment. With budgets still being rather free, and an engine change coming up which will not help, so I am not sure they can win races at this point of time – although I am convinced that they can do very well.
“But I would like to win races. That is what really encouraged me to push for the next step.”
Rosberg said that he would not be able to announce his next move for a while and he didn’t know how long it would take. There are other pieces to fall into place here.
There is quite a bit going on behind the scenes with Mercedes at the moment. They are in the throws of negotiating their way into a controlling interest at Brawn, meanwhile they have a 40% stake in McLaren and a contract to the end of 2011 with them. The CEO of Daimler, Dr Zetsche, is coming out to this race. I have also heard a whisper that McLaren’s Ron Dennis may come here too, his first appearance at a Grand Prix since April. Daimler’s largest shareholder is Aabar, the Abu Dhabi investment vehicle and they are central to the strategy for Mercedes taking a holding in Brawn.
There is some suggestion that Rosberg may have saddled himself to Mercedes and is waiting to be told which team he will drive for, but I suspect he and his father have a bit more control over the situation than that. Rosberg Sr is a shrewd operator and although McLaren and Brawn are both good options, he would want more say over it. Also it’s hard to see Rosberg alongside Hamilton at McLaren as he was always beaten by him in the past and that really is Hamilton’s team now.
Meanwhile Jenson Button confirmed this afternoon that he has started discussions with Brawn about a new contract, but said that he wanted to sit down seriously after this weekend to focus on the future. I sense that as much as money, the duration of the contract could be a key point. He would like a long contract, I imagine, especially bearing in mind that Sebastian Vettel is contracted to Red Bull until the end of 2011 and may well be a Mercedes target for 2012, if they are running their own team by then.