Rosberg commits to Mercedes
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Nov 2011   |  8:27 am GMT  |  98 comments

Nico Rosberg has extended his contract with Mercedes, for a period that will take him into his 30s. It puts to an end all suggestions that he may join Ferrari as replacement to Felipe Massa any time soon.

Rosberg was already under contract for 2012, but the new deal adds a “multi-year” term to that, likely to be three years from 2013 onwards with options. Mercedes statement claims that the 26 year old has demonstrated that “he belongs to the top group of drivers currently racing in Formula One.”

Meanwhile Rosberg himself confidently asserts that “To win in a Silver Arrow will be one of the highlights of my life so far, and I greatly enjoy helping to lead our team in our quest to become the best in Formula One. I have every confidence that the team will provide me with a winning car.”

Operationally Mercedes have been pretty slick this year, with the joint fastest pit stops and good strategies, working around the weakness of the car at using up its tyres.

But with the limitations of the car in race conditions, Rosberg has only managed twice this year to finish ahead of his starting position. Nine times he’s qualified strongly then finished lower.

The team based in Brackley, which has passed through various identities, has always struggled to consistently build a winning car. The exception was the Brawn car of 2009, which was the product of immense investment and development by Honda and a clever loophole with the double diffuser.

This will be the key to whether Rosberg can show he genuinely belongs at F1’s top table. Although his qualifying pace is certainly of a calibre to make him a contender, he has recently fallen behind Michael Schumacher in race performances and Mercedes will want to see him get back on top of his older team mate next season.

Ross Brawn clearly thinks he has it in him, “Nico has performed exceptionally well for our Silver Arrows team over the past two seasons, achieving results at the very limit of the technical capabilities of our current car, ” said the celebrated team boss.

There have been suggestions in the German media that Schumacher has also extended his deal into 2013. I think that there is a good chance he will make it a four year comeback programme, but talking to his manager Sabine Kehm in Delhi, I got the impression they would wait into next year before committing. He will definitely stay with Mercedes as an ambassador, either way.

That said Schumacher is really enjoying himself now, after a difficult first 18 months of his comeback. He has his confidence back and, like Rosberg, just wants a competitive car with which to challenge.

Timing wise it was desirable for Mercedes to announce the Rosberg deal now, as this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi is the home event for Aabar, a significant shareholder in the team and in parent company Daimler.

The Ferrari consideration is not one that will bother Mercedes now, but it is significant that two of the drivers who Ferrari considered to partner Fernando Alonso, Rosberg and Button, have now committed themselves long term at their current teams. With Ferrari’s first choice Robert Kubica in uncertain condition the Scuderia has a headache with an underperforming Massa and no potent replacements. Sergio Perez has been mentioned but he is still too young and inexperienced to get a Ferrari opportunity.

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Would love to see a championship with four competitive constructors … has that ever happened? Maybe the 1982 season, the one that Rosberg’s dad won? Of course, there were other factors that made that championship closer than it might otherwise have been.



Is there a possibilty for Kimi working with Ferrari in 2013?


Maybe selling ferrari snowballs at the gates of hell (lol) 🙂


I would not think that very likely



Do you not think that everyone’s forgotten about Heikki. I bet He would be great in a Ferrari. He showed that he is a great Team player. He would relish a second opportunity to match himself against Alonso. And no one can deny his work ethic and that he has driven the wheels off the Lotus everytime he stepped into that cockpit.

Surely he would be better than Sergio Perez in terms of experience and technical ability, Right?


He’s doing a terrific job at rehabilitating his reputation. Not sure he’s on Ferrari’s radar though.


Maybe Ron Dennis could put a good word in for Kovi. Ron always said how nice and compliant Heikki was while in the employ of Mclaren.


I think Rosberg has made a good decision. He has the full support of his current team and they would have to be favourites to join the big 3 to make it the big 4 next year and moving forward after that.

If I ran Ferrari I would be calling Timo Glock or Adrian Sutil and giving Massa a rest. Either guy would score good points but leave Alonso untroubled. Give Perez some serious grooming in 2012 so that he’s ready to step up to Ferrari in 2013.


Er… recall 2009 Fisi replaced Massa, and instantly showed how much Raikkonen pushed the car beyond what the car could do and Fisi found the Ferrari hard to drive?

If Massa can do exactly the same thing “would score good points but leave Alonso untroubled”, why the change?

Not a smart move if you ran Ferrari.


“pushed the car beyond what the car could do and Fisi found the Ferrari hard to drive?”

It’s a quite a different challenge to step into a car mid season rather than at the beginning.

Unless Raikkonen has a device to change the law of physics he was getting perhaps the maximum from the car, but couldn’t go beyond it.

Massa isn’t scoring good points at the moment which is why I would make the change. He should be running close to Alonso, but he’s not. By not troubling Alonso I mean there should be some challenge there, but Alonso has it covered when he pushes. That’s not the case at the moment with Massa.


You can make that argument with every driver decision ever made. This is about sharing opinions. In my opinion, Sutil would be consistently further ahead of Massa in the same car on their current form. It is obvious that Massa is struggling and no one in Ferrari is denying that. They no doubt have their reasons for keeping him.

I’d like to see things shaken up a little at Ferrari for 2012. I’m not asking you to agree with me.


What’s there to say Timo Glock or Adrian Sutil would do a better job?

I’m sure the Ferrari guys know better with the stats and data they have, and would have made the move you mentioned if that’s really the case.


This must be the most stable driver market in the history of F1. Other than the testing ban, any ideas why this is? Even with this, isn’t GP2 a decent training ground, they race on the same tyres which are probably the trickiest thing to master this year.


Webber for a 1 year plus a 1 year option at Ferrari for 2013. Perez in the Ferrari from 2014.

Riccardo to Redbull!

Disclaimer: I’m Australian! Really hoping to see two Aussies in competitive cars!


Schumacher’s stronger performances are putting pressure on Rosberg now. At first the feeling was “Wow! Rosberg’s beating Schumacher!” and then even when we realised that Michael was not at his pre-retirement level we still thought Nico was doing an impressive job. Now it’s like “well Michael has improved, but Nico hasn’t risen his game to counter him and Michael hasn’t reached his limit either. Does that mean Nico is still a bit short of the very best in the sport?”

The trait of qualifying better than where he finishes is also beginning to remind me a bit of Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber round the middle of the last decade. With Trulli in particular there was often a strong debate about whether Jarno did well on Saturday but for some reason struggled badly on Sunday or whether it was more the fact that he said so very well on Saturday that it was patently unrealistic to expect him to match it on Sunday, where his pace was more representative of the car’s limits. This is another question that seems to be forming for me over Rosberg.

So I guess the conclusion is that Nico signs this deal at a time when there are some fascinating and challenging questions about him coming to the fore. He is an intelligent driver and will be aware of this and the challenge remains to hit a new level in 2012 and beyond and show that those at Mercedes were right to pick him as a winner. It should be an interesting few seasons for observers of the driver.


Maybe a smart move on Rosberg part. Ross Brawn has a track record, with 3 different teams to producing the goods. (But it does take time in his case) So instead of playing second fiddle to Alonso at Ferrari, he could end up team leader at Mercedes when Michael does leave. I guess the question is, is he good enough or just a good second string driver that will get you a few pints and the occasional result. He is still young and has gained a fair amount of experience, which could be helpful. We don’t hear if his feedback is any good or not to the engineers, which is what Button has now.

If Brawn and the team give him a car, then he could in theory, stack up a lot of win’s and points, and drivers want wins. They are getting close, knocking on the door a few times. It is that last major step that would put them on a winning run, and then everyone would say how good he is or not.


It’s worth noting that Mark Webber always had Nico under control while they were at Williams.


I think that Ferrari need to make a gamble and put Perez in the team as soon as possible, perhaps see him as a long term investment. If they sign him from 2013 he’ll have time to mature, learn the workings of the team and be able to learn from Alonso. Perez is quick, he has tallent, it just needs to be nurtured and he needs a bit of guidance.

They’re running out of options, unless they’re going to write a MASSIVE cheque and ask Raikkonen if he fancies another chance? Unlikely, but their options are very limited here…!


A sound decision by both, I’d say – Mercedes need a dependable, consistent driver with good technical knowledge to build the future on, and Rosberg needs a means to prove to the paddock he can develop a winning car and not just rely on what he’s given. If anything I’m surprised this wasn’t agreed sooner. As to whether he will be a contender for the championship in future years, that’s more difficult to say (personally I’m undecided), but it’s certainly put his career on a very solid footing which in F1 is no mean feat.

I bet the Rosberg to Ferrari stories will continue in spite of this, though – plausibility never was a key factor, after all…


seems a pretty astute move from rosberg to me, i think Mercedes will be challenging in the next few years, and its unlikely rosberg would want a seat at ferrari while Alonso is there. I think the refreshment of the regulations might give them a chance to challenge for the wins, with new staff who will bring ideas into the team. Aldo costa’s alledged lack of ambition may well be a good thing when designing a car for these new regs as they may not depend on the EBD concept as the other teams do, allied with what i assume is a lot of funding from their parent company.


Is it not possible, given the continued uncertainty of Kubica’s comeback and Renault’s impatience, that Ferrari will stick with Massa for the time being, and replace him with Kubica once the season is underway, and once Kubica shows himself of being capable of returning (finally)?


WHy would Kubika even consider signing for Ferrari? Please explain the logic behind that…


Casual viewers.


James, unless I’ve missed it, I’m curious about one aspect of the Mercedes story –

Didn’t Ross Brawn say earlier in the year that he was planning on leaving (retiring) ‘soon’?? I think they might not do so well without his brilliant abilities, so wonder if a driver in the team might worry about that.


Is it the general consensus, then, that Massa is underperforming?

He’s had some unlucky occurrences in races, that have ruined his racing stats, but I thought his race pace was not bad at all…


please, is it possible to say schumacher is making definite progress which we can mesure. This means he is getting better and better, but rosberg is already at his best and this is good but he cannot improove more.

this photograph is exellent i should say.


We need to remember 2 things here :

a) Mercedes cannot get a better brand ambassador than Michael Schumacher. He is the most recognized name in F1,esp. in this side of the pond in good ol’ USA. Also, with 2 decades of experience, winning titles with benetton and then with Ferrari, he is notorious for his military like work regime and car development. This is a key in current F1 where testing is limited.

b)Rosberg has consistently performed maximizing the performance of his car. Given a fast car he’ll be dicing and slicing with RBR,Ferrari and Mclarens.And he’s just 26 and rapidly maturing as a racing driver. Jenson did not hit his best until his late 20s. Rosberg is an asset for Merc,and he is non-political which tends to keep things clean.The last thing one needs is someone like Rubens,hamilton or Webber who have more than once thrown their teams under the bus!

If Ferrari were to replace Massa for 2013,they are spoilt for choice. We are forgetting some immensely talented drivers out there : Sutil,Alguersuari and Hulkenberg are all on the sidelines waiting for a top drive. If Petrov gets the boot,and Kimi/Kubica make a comeback, it’ll be like a bunch of foxes in chicken coop! We should then have some seriously exciting lineups!


Hi James, have you heard any more on the potential Di Resta to Mercedes move? Are Mercedes thinking he’s Schumachers replacement?



I thought Kubica and Rosberg were the top two drivers of 2010. This is a good move for Mercedes and Rosberg. I rate him highly and expect him to do well in the future. I just hope Mercedes can build a good car.


Everything points to a VERY strong Mercedes in 2013. I think Mercedes will have a much better 2012 where they contend regularly with McLaren and Ferrari… I have concluded one and only one thing has kept Red Bull at the top… Testing. If you come out of the box on top, almost impossible to be caught without in season testing.


Does this show a lack of ambition from Mercedes?


If Ferrari had any sense (and they don’t) they would have paired Fernando and Kimi for 2010 and they would have given Red Bull a real run for their money.

As long as they operate a clear No1/No2 policy, the second seat is always going to be occupied by either a no-hoper like Massa or a has-been like Fisichella. Which is a waste of a seat quite frankly, they might as well run a one-car team.


Perhaps Ferrari should re-consider signing Happy Bubble Hamilton?


The ‘no hoper’ almost won the title in 2008. Massa gave Kimi a run for his money in 2007/08/09 until his accident. The life threatening crash, and “Fernando is faster than you!” messages have dented Massa’s confidence. He needs a fresh start. I would prescribe him a seat at Lotus or the other Lotus/Caterham/watchamaycallit.


I used to think Rosberg was the next big thing. But I’ve come to see that he exists in a positive bubble thanks to the speed, or lack of this, of his car. If the car was actually fast enough to come close to winning races, he’d be judged with more scrutiny. Right now, if he’s fast and ahead of Schumacher he’s golden. Best to wait to see him in a competitive car before making a final judgment. He could either mature into a great, with focus and intelligence despite some obvious impetuousness (Button’s comment on Nico’s hyper confidence was kind of revealing) or remain on the almost-great level of all the others on the grid.


Slightly off-topic..

Just finished reading the Schumacher bio “The Edge of Greatness”, by J.Allen, any plans for a follow-up?

It’s an excellent book and there would be a lot to cover from ’06 to now!

Regarding the existing biography, I have a query:

1. It is mentioned that Schumi’s neck was starting to show it’s age in ’06- any chance you could have a look at F1 driver deterioration with age, to analyse how well he is doing at fighting the physical clock?


Talking of which…

If his neck showed its age back in ’06, why is he here now? o_O


In India didn’t M Brundle say he popped to the gym in the evening and Michael was only one there and looking as fit as ever?


No idea, no BBC coverage in my place, just surprised that if MSC said it was his neck aging and then coming back several years later just seems weird.


I think Rosberg could win races given a decent enough car, but I don’t think long term he is ever going to lead a team to a championship. I think he has been flattered over the last 18 months as Schumacher has struggled to get up to speed, but now it looks like Schumacher has the race legs on him even if his qualifying is still a weakness.

Don’t get me wrong, Rosberg is a perfectly solid driver capable of bringing home points for the team on a consistant basis. I just don’t see him having that extra little bit of ability to bring him into the top group of drivers.

So probably a good choice for Mercedes but I get the feeling if Schumacher fails to get back to the very top they will replace Schumi in 2013 with another top star, keeping Rosberg as a quick number 2.

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