Behind the scenes at Mercedes – readers discuss F1 and Rosberg’s replacement
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Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  03 Dec 2016   |  12:22 pm GMT  |  194 comments

Yesterday’s announcement that Nico Rosberg was retiring from Formula 1 sent shockwaves through the sport and it also occurred just as our lucky JA on F1 readers were enjoying a tour of the Mercedes factory in Brackley.

The tour was a competition prize courtesy of our partner Tata Communications, via its F1 Connectivity Innovation prize, which featured an in-depth look at Mercedes’ F1 headquarters.

After stopping off at the team’s ever-expanding trophy cabinet we were taken past the Race Strategy Room – where Lewis Hamilton’s engineer Pete Bonnington and Rosberg’s former engineer Tony Ross were working away – above the vast machine shop, and then through to the carbon composites area and product assessment rooms.

merc-trophies

The tour finished at the team’s racebays, where the very monocoque that Hamilton had used throughout 2016 and had taken to victory less than a week earlier in Abu Dhabi was resting after it had been stripped down.

Over a lunch a short time later, we asked our guests a few questions about the 2016 F1 season and their thoughts on the future direction of the sport.

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Q: Who would you pick as your top five drivers of 2016?

Gemma Russell (above): I’d probably put Hamilton first because I think he’s more exciting to watch as a racer, and then I’d say Nico because he won. Then Verstappen, for similar reasons to Hamilton – he’s always good to watch. Then Ricciardo and I’d probably go for Perez too, as he’s good to watch too and is a good racer.

Adrian Wolfson: Nico first, since he won. Then Hamilton, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Alonso.

Guy Osborn: I’d put Alonso first for always putting in a good performance at McLaren, no matter what, and despite his comments on the cars. Then Nico Hulkenberg for what he is going to be doing next year, then Hamilton for his end of year performances, Verstappen for what he’s done since the start of this year, and also Ricciardo for his performances.

Lindsay Scott: You’ve got to put Lewis first. Verstappen is second because he has got what it takes and I can’t wait to see him in the future. Then Ricciardo, Wehrlein and probably Hulkenberg because he’s earned Force India more money again.

Javier Jiminez: Verstappen has had the most exciting year, Hamilton – because I think he is the quickest. Then Nico, who needs everything properly in place to win. Sainz has made another great year, and Perez too.

Brian Marsh: I think Nico has to be the driver of the year because he won and held it together under pressure at the end. Second is Verstappen for changing teams and because he’s a massively exciting new talent, and then Alonso for outperforming his car. Then Wehrlein, for being good at the back, and then Gutierrez because he went to a new team and showed Grosjean how to take that car. Those last three are all pretty much level.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-11-56-55
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the 2017 season?

Adrian (above): I want Lewis to win and I want it to be just a lot of fun, with a lot of close racing.

Gemma: I’m really hoping that more teams like Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren are a lot closer together with Mercedes, and that there is a lots of better racing.

Guy: Hamilton’s new teammate! And how McLaren performs next year with Honda.

Lindsay: It will be interesting to see how Adrian Newey does with the aero on the Red Bull, which should bring them into the frame with Mercedes. Winter testing might be pretty interesting.

Javier: I would like to see ten cars within one second of the ultimate pace, at least by the end of the year. At the beginning it’s not going to happen because the cars will be really spread out, but I would like to see them close up.

Brian: I’m most looking forward to a competitive Red Bull because I want to see Verstappen and Lewis fighting.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-12-10-50
Q: Do you think Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso will win another F1 world title?

Lindsay (above): I would say there is a chance for the both of them, depending on who Lewis’ new teammate is.
Adrian: Yes. It’s hard, but Vettel is more likely.

Gemma: I would say possibly not for Vettel, and maybe Alonso, yes. I think he’s still got the hunger and I’m not sure about Vettel.

Guy: Vettel, no. Alonso, yes if McLaren can put a good car out there.

Javier: I don’t think they are going to win again.

Brian: Neither. Unfortunately I think McLaren has too many problems. It’s losing sponsors, hasn’t got enough money and will not make the most of a good future Honda engine.

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Q: What should be Liberty Media’s first priority for F1?

Javier (above): I would solve the tyres. I think the tyres have to be more consistent and they have to be able to be pushed to the limit.

Adrian: Make it free for everyone to watch on TV.

Gemma: I think they should try and share the funds among the teams a bit better if they can because then perhaps we’ll have better racing.

Guy: I’d say the same – but with more British tracks on the calendar.

Lindsay: They should try and get the prices down for the spectators. Prices are way beyond a lot of people’s reach now [and] although they say general admission is ok, if they want to fill the stands they’ve got to bring it down.

Brian: I think there should be more emphasis on mechanical over aero such that it creates more overtaking and more interest. DRS is fake, they need to find a mechanical way to achieve what DRS has done.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-12-11-07
Q: Can Mercedes win back-to-back championships over two different sets of F1 rules?

Brian (above): Yes, they’ve got the best engine and it will still be the best engine next year.

Adrian: I think they can.

Gemma: Yes.

Guy (below): With the infrastructure they have, yes.

Lindsay: Yes.

Javier: Yes, they have had the time to prepare the car. They haven’t been pushed to the end of this year so I’m sure they have been able to move resources over for next year.

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What do you make of our panel discussion? Do you agree or disagree with their opinions? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

I hope Mercedes AMG F1 throw their weight behind Lewis Hamilton in 2017 and pair him with an up-and-coming German driver who can benefit from Hamilton’s experience without posing any real threat to his championship challenge. I believe the team will function much better at all levels with this type of driver lineup; with the added bonus of supporting the next generation of German talent.

2

Put Haryanto in there! Out-qualified the much vaunted Wehrlein more than a few times

3

Some frankly bizarre reasoning for some of the top driver picks, there. I mean, how on earth does what Hulkenberg might do in 2017 qualify him as a top five driver of 2016? Makes very little sense, but probably still more than picking Gutierrez who clearly showed Romain Grosjean how to get the most out of the Haas with his complete lack of points finishes versus Grosjean’s five!

I think you also have to go uncharitably far out of your way to avoid picking Rosberg in the top five. At the end of the day, he found a new level this year and beat one of the fastest drivers of his generation. Yes, Lewis suffered somewhat poorer luck but if you think that counts as ‘bad’ luck in the grand F1 scheme of things then allow me to conference you in to Nigel Mansell, Felipe Massa and Niki Lauda so they can laugh bitterly down the phone at you.

For my five, I’d go for Nico, Lewis, Max and Danny Ricc, but I don’t think there’s been a fifth standout contender. It’s probably a toss-up between Alonso and Perez and I think I’d plump for Alonso on the grounds that he outperformed his car all season, where Perez did have some disappointing results in the first half of the season as well as his podium finishes.

4

I wonder why F1 can’t do a Grand Prix of Europe for the 3-4 circuits which do hard in hosting a race every season.
So they could host a race every 3-4 years which would lower their costs and keeps the interest in countries without an annual race higher.

5

Of all the comments about the new driver for Mercedes, I don’t think anybody has mentioned Stoffel Vandorne. This guy is fast and probably pretty cheap from McLaren. Of course with Alonso limited in how many years he has left, they may want to hold on to the younger guy. Oddly, as Nico went up to the winning stand the thought occurred to me, “Might he retire now?” but then I dismissed the idea. So I was still surprised when he did. But Lauda did this a couple of times…..then he came back because his airline wasn’t doing well financially and became WC again.

6

I can’t see why Romain couldn’t be easily extracted from his HAAS contract and in my eyes is clearly capable of winning races. Whetehr he can go toe to tow with Lewis is another matter but he was a team player when asked to move over for Kimi when at Lotus so think he would be motivated, fast and a good fit. HAAS have Kevin who will do a solid enough job for them and could always bring Vergne is from Fezz

7

Okay it’s time for wild guesses.

1. If Bottas gets sold to Mercedes, then Gutierrez takes his big bag of cash to Williams and throws it on the pile with Stroll’s fortune.

2. If Alonso manages to extricate himself over to Mercedes, causing Hamilton to have a myocardial infarction, then Sainz gets released from Toro Rosso and joins Stoffel at McLaren. Sainz gets replaced at Toro Rosso by the highest bidder under the age of 18.

3. If Vettel was by some remote chance released from Ferrari to Mercedes, Hamilton would quit and go to work for Hugo Boss. Lewis would be replaced by German speaking Hulkenberg who would get himself out of Renault and would be replaced at Renault by Alain Prost’s son.

8

Any vacancy at Toro Rosso will surely fall to Pierre Gasly. Many were expecting him to get the drive this year so if Kvyat doesn’t start the season well, another mid-season dumping could easily be on the cards.

9

One thing is sure; Hamilton was beaten in no1 car. He is not invincible and sooner than later he will be beaten again and if he does not quit himself, he will be humiliated like all drivers who stayed on track fot too long. Rosber will apparently not be one of those drivers and this is why many Hamilton fans (incl experts and self proclaimed experts) are very upset with Nico. Guys, Lewis still has a chance to leave honorable, so don’t be so bitter because of Nico’s farewell:)

10

HAM will be beaten for sure, but he will always be remembered as a 3 time WDC @Andy77. Nico will be remembered as a WDC who retired 5 days after winning the championship 😉

11

ROS wil be remembered as WDC 2016 some one who ended his career on a high.

12

i will always remember how it all happened.

13

I think I have a better idea now. Until MB signs someone Rossberg may change his mind and want to defend his title.

I know there are few like me. I actually am a fan of both. Rossberg won me over with his singing in Italy and Hamilton drove fantastic in the last part of the season.

If Rossberg does not change his mind I think Bottas and Perez look to be good canidates from MBs on remarks even though I hope they roll the dice for someone younger maybe like Gasly or Ocon but not PW but I think the odds are bad for MB not getting someone with a few years experience maybe in exchange for a Gasly or similar in the backmarkers.

If I were MB I would want Alonso but if that’s too complicated then Perez and Bottas would really be on the radar.

It would also be cool if they could get a female driver Suzie Wolf??? Haha

14

Actually, scratch Sutil – I forgot about champagnegate!

15

It’s exceedingly rare for a top team to put an untried young driver straight into a race seat. When you’ve already got a winner like Hamilton in the other car, there’s very little incentive to take the risk. Even more so when you’re going into a big rule change year – familiarity and experience were the primary reasons Ferrari have stuck with Kimi. In that context even Wehrlein is a risk, let alone Gasly, who Red Bull have probably taken steps to secure.

Perez or Bottas would be very expensive to obtain, but I think Mercedes will either stump up the cash or go for an interim solution like di Resta or maybe even Sutil. Boring, but relatively safe and cheap. Both would be reliable rear gunners and points scorers for Hamilton while the team sort out a longer term solution.

16

Great feature. Would love to be part of it one day.

17

What about this amazing alternative , what if Mercedes decides to sack Hamilton and to hire two drivers , choose your pairs, alonso vs vettel, etc

18

If Mercedes want a short term solution to generate points, putting Jensen in the car for one year has got to be a good bet. He would be close behind Lewis and is mature enough not to cause trouble between the sides of the garage. Totto can wait till next year for those when he can get Alonso or Vettel alongside Lewis.

However, I suspect if Lewis wins the championship again next year, he might well be tempted to try for another one with Ferrari, if they put up a reasonable performance under the new regs.

19

Remember Jenson is still under contract with McLaren – there’s probably some sort of provision to stop him racing for another team in 2017. He looked done by the end of the season though, as did Massa. I think they should switch to a Ferrari-style 1-2 hierarchy, shift the focus to Hamilton, bring in Paul di Resta as a safe pair of hands and use 2017 to fully assess Wehrlein and Ocon.

20

Out of curiosity… Jiminez or Jiménez?
😉

21

I have huge respect for Nico, not just as a racing driver, but as a gentleman and all round human being. So his decision to retire is something that commands further respect from me. Lewis Hamilton is a fine racing driver, that goes without saying, but I find it hard to like and respect him as a person as much as other drivers. He does have a generous and likeable side to his personality and I have never met him in person, so I can only comment from what I see in the media. I suspect it’s because he has led a life away from the normality that most of us live in, and so my view of him is distorted by that. He could take a few lessons from Nico, Daniel, Jenson, and Felipe in the manner in which he conducts himself. I don’t bear any ill feelings against anyone, and I wish him well, but I hope Mercedes choose a driver who will be able to compete with Lewis at the highest level

22

Niki Lauda is clearly not very happy about Nico’s retirement: http://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/lauda-rosberg-gave-mercedes-no-time-for-a-back-up-plan-856753/

23

I wonder what back-up plan Lauda gave Ferrari in 1977 when he quit the team mid-race weekend in Canada?

24

It’s hard to argue with Niki’s logic, really. With all the drivers from the top couple of tiers already tied up for 2017, Mercedes are left with a choice between a green youngster they don’t actually rate as highly as Ocon, or a bit of a journeyman like Paul di Resta to fill the seat. As a top team going into a big rule change season, you really don’t want a young hotshoe with no experience of racing at the front in your second car. An obedient, experienced and steady number two is probably their best, if uninspiring, option.

25
Valentino - Schumacher # 1

I hope Fernando Alonso gets signed by Mercedes just to witness 1 last time the Spaniard’s total and complete meltdown against Hamilton : ))

26

Hey Val , You’d think it would be out of the question after 2007 Mclaren -Merc. Then again you’d of thought the same before Ron Re-hired him !-seems alls fair in love & f1..ha. but I totally agree on the sentiment

27

I refuse to rate Mercedes and Ferrari drivers because these teams clearly have agendas.

Perez, Ricciardo, Sainz , Wehrlein, Grosjean

I dont rate any driver that drives like an idiot in more than 1 race and for that reason alone I could not include Verstappen.

28

If Lewis or someone at Mercedes can cope with taking someone under their wing, then Kvyat.

A little bit of love from someone outside of Red Bull, and I think he would be highly motivated to
– show what he can do in a top car again;
– take the fight against Red Bull, the team that screwed him over when he was doing well, and within weeks of getting them their first 2016 podium;
– certainly take the fight to Max Verstappen, with a good car, rather than one powered by a year-old Ferarri PU.

Even just for a year, until the top drivers’ contracts start lapsing.

29

lorenzo said he couldn’t believe how easy it was to drive an f1 car but couldn’t drive it at the same speed as f1 drivers do. it couldn’t be that easy then. only easy if you can do it mate.

30

What’s wrong with most of you, is intra-team battles the main prerogative of following F1, or has team rivalry and competitiveness between teams lost its flair in F1 today. To be honest, being a Hamilton fan, I was disappointed at the prospect of having to watch another year of Lewis and Nico slugging it out again, how boring. But Mercedes made sure the two would hardly be fighting each other on track, which resulted in Nico winning the title. Now it’s over, time to move on, I can imagine that it was a tough 3 years for all involved, so why the wishes to line Lewis up again for another intra-team teammate battle?
Surely he deserves to be the defacto #1 driver at Mercedes now, and undoubtedly be set in an environment to be able to put his energy and motivation into developing the new car. Who knows where they’ll be next year, and a young Pascal, who by the way is already involved with car development, would be a perfect teammate for Lewis. People should realise, it’s no easy task for a team to be managing two alpha tiers. I want to see team rivalry again, maybe 10 teams all within a second, I want to see at least 4 teams each with a driver in with a chance of winning the wdc. The only problem I see is RB, and I’ll explain why. McLaren has Alonso as #1 driver, Ferrari – Vettel, Renault-Hulkenberg, Force India – Perez, Mercedes – Hamilton, now RB are going to be forced to select a #1 driver sooner or later, or face the prospects of losing points over the others, like McLaren did in the era Button/Hamilton.
Those who are talking about Lewis having it too easy and all that bla,Bla,Bla, are those who find it very painful to acknowledge, when Lewis is motivated, focused, and really on his game, there is nobody in the field that can beat him. 
I wish you all a joyous festive holiday season, and a happy new year.
Roll on 2017…Go #44

31

We’ve had the weekend to sober up about the news. Toto no doubt has dropped his mobile into the toilet on purpose Friday.

It is Monday, and it is time to admit that Mercedes cannot do anything but put Pascal into the seat. It’s as good as done. Bernie called Toto and told him to hold off the announcement to keep giving sites and fans something to write about. But it’s surely done – decision is made.

Alonso to Mercedes is a headache Toto doesn’t need.
2017 is going to be a challenge from RBR, and Mercedes need a young go getter. They also need to legitimize their young drivers program.

Plus, Lewis and Alonso are likely to have a Lewis and Nico in Spain type of an event on track sooner or later as ultimately Alonso will want to push for a 3rd. That’s a bucket load of points right there at likely risk. Where as those types of risks never materialize with Lewis and Pascal. It just won’t happen in 2017 with Pascal. So any benefit of extra points Alonso would bring over Pascal is immediately erased by the potential of a likely clash that costs Mercedes points. Benefit of Alonso erased right there.

It’s over. Pascal will be the driver. Toto is too smart a dude to do anything else. This will stretch out for some dramatic effect and then Pascal gets to sit in the #6 car. Toto is just too level headed and logical to do otherwise. Lewis better recognize the gesture too. However, I still think one of the two RBR drivers will be crowned WDC end of 2017. Logic seems to dictate Max, because after all, he is the future of RBR and his youth would ensure his continued participation and value to F1 for decade as WDC, plus is maybe locks in Heineken. So I’m leaning Max wins 2017 WDC. Yup, Max will be your 2017 WDC champion. So let it be written, so let it be done.

32

…let’s not forget Honda in all this. They are here, the are with McLaren only, and they are contributing to F1. Taking Alonso away would be painful and highly discouraging. I already think Honda is at risk after 2017 if results don’t materialize, and Honda could call it a day. So while Toto maybe in position to take Alonso from McLaren to hurt Honda, as noted above in addition to all the headaches for Toto, Honda aren’t really a challenger, and likely won’t be and for Toto to do that after Dennis was let go would be bad for Honda and bad for F1, bad for McLaren – from whom they already got plenty. I mean, at some point Toto has to let McLaren try to get back on their feet after the pillaging that was 2012. Alonso needs to stay and keep Honda happy and in F1 and McLaren with some stability into 2017.

33

100% agree with you Heisenberg 👌

34

“Those who are talking about Lewis having it too easy and all that bla,Bla,Bla, are those who find it very painful to acknowledge, when Lewis is motivated, focused, and really on his game, there is nobody in the field that can beat him.”

By your own logic then, Lewis was not motivated, focused and really on his game in 2016. He should really be asking himself hard questions about why that was instead of aiming paranoid whinges at the team. The very same team his next title challenge rests upon.

35

There was some bias in your discussion with the people on the Merc factory tour, non?

Best on track driver in the best car: Lewis Hamilton
I’m not a fan of the antics and what I see as gaming the rules, in a way that threatens the spectacle, and I believe that eventually Max Verstappen will get the kharma payback, but he provided the contention, on par with Lewis, and approaching on-track.
But there is something to be said for winning it, and having to do everything necessary to win the championship, whether you believe Rosberg was the best on-track driver or not, HE WON!
Not too many people will remember the contention, and such as the MMC (Mercedes Managed Championship), as I call it, and all the weirdness, which seemed intrinsic to Rosberg’s eventual gaining the driver championship in 2016; most will just read it and see that he won, and then, on the footnote, that he retired directly afterwards, and what has been consider, ‘prime’ age.

But replacements is interesting to ponder.
Anybody who got the nod, would have to see it as the best opportunity they could likely expect, for the rest of their career, with few exceptions, if they can, will likely go to Merc, including Vettel and Alonso.
The question is, does Merc really need the hassle of another WDC, after the supposed nightmare of managing Lewis and Nico?
They really need a classic number 2, who can pick up the ball if the number one ihas mechanical trouble, or otherwise, and reliably bring in the podiums, at least for the first year, not really challenging Lewis.
This assumes that they shall keep Lewis, and Lewis shall keep Mercedes; which isn’t a complete slam-dunk in my mind.
But supposing we work from this assumption.
Ruled out: Alonso, Vettel, even Sainz, defintely Max, and Ricciardo.
But they want experiene, at least one season, preferrably with Merc equipment (but not necessarily).
In the last article, (at the earlier phases of shock), I propose Bottas to Merc, and Button to Williams; but now I don’t know why Button directly to Merc wouldn’t be the ideal Merc solution; and I have a strong feeling that Button would probably be okay with it.
Wehrlein must be in the equation, but I think they want a tad more experience.
One would have to expect Checko to be in the calculations, as well, and he’s pretty close to the sweet spot, but I can’t seem him yielding to the veteran; and I would expect him to be more competitive than Rosberg, on-track (very little doubt).
I rule out Hulkenberg, with his move to Renault, I think he’ll stay; but he’s very, very close to the sweet spot and potentially similar marketability factor as Rosberg, especially in the German market.
I don’t think Kimi would go; he said he’d stay with Ferrari, and they signed him for another year, I think he’d stay at Ferrari.
The guy I thought of after the last post, who is right on the sweet spot, is Kvyat.
He got incredibly negatively biased press, and RB/TR certainly didn’t do anything to help him out.
I think out of everybody, I’d like to see Kvyat at Merc in 2017, very poetically pleasing, especially if he won the championship!

Keeping the chuckles coming.

36

They really need a classic number 2, who can pick up the ball if the number one ihas mechanical trouble, or otherwise, and reliably bring in the podiums, at least for the first year, not really challenging Lewis.

Not sure Webber is up for another stint in F1 but it might be worth a shout.

37

@ Deancassady…. with all the top drivers/talent locked well away they don’t have too many options open to them. As you mentioned kvyat is a wild card and one that i hadn’t even thought about. My guess though is that Bottas is probably the single most likely candidate for a 12 month contract. Wehrlein is IMO not ready for such a prime spot but then again mercedes would be well aware of his potential and he would be their second string if the bottas deal falls over…i think. William claim to have their budget covered but they really are a team now that always seem to be on the money trail! Who else would have given maldonado a drive, given that it took half the venezuelen GDP to sweeten the deal!. So, maybe your ‘left field’ alternative will come to pass….let’s see.

38

K:
I think we agree that Bottas must be the top candidate.
But I don’t think of Checko as a ‘left field’ candidate at all, he’s just (lkely correctly considered) too feisty for Merc/Lewy; he can be counted on to definitely ‘go for it’, regardless of what they tell him to do in the race; it’s one of the reasons that I like him and rate him highly.
Kvyat is neither, so far off the mark, experience, young, fast, and ‘kept down’; they have the opportunity to create a great delta between his results at RB/TR and Merc, which is central to their current branding direction (as evidenced by their managing the WDC in 2016).
But you’d have to consider Button as the top ‘stop gap’ candidate. He’s just about expired, but still fast. Has respect, but can still turn it on. He’s reasonable, and won’t expect to stay longer than a year. And this is a guy who can win a world championship! (proven). I’m not huge fan of JB, but in this case, he’s just about perfect for the role, and I have to admit, I do kind of like him, and I would like him to get one more chance in top machinery, to see if he could possibly get a second WDC.
The one thing against Button, is that he is British, and they already have a British driver, so their marketing spiel is obviously constrained – BUT JUST ONE YEAR!
The more I write it down, the more I like Button.

39

Much as I’d love to see JB get the job I can’t see how it would sit alongside his ambassadorial role at McLaren. He’s their contracted reserve driver whilst he has his so-called sabbatical.

That said, it was widely reported that JB himself pointed out that it was Ron that persuaded him to sign up for another couple of years with the carrot of a possible drive in 2018, a contingency for if Fernando jumps ship or retires at the end of next year leaving McLaren without an experienced driver. Now that Ron has departed it’s possible that that contract could be terminated.

40

I have heard Alonso/vettel touted as possible replacement for Rosberg .It will be foolhardy for any of these two drivers to move to Mercedes. There is no way for these two drivers to know with absolute certainty that their own present teams will not deliver them a car competitive car considering the regulation changes coming. A fast enough car,even if not the fastest, but with bullet proof reliability can win the tittle. Furthermore,is anyone of these two drivers absolutely confident of going to Mercedes and overthrowing Lewis? Yes they may be lucky and even win a tittle,should reliability favour them,as we saw with Rosberg.But everything being equal, they both run the risk of being humiliated. Neither Alonso, nor vettel in my view are as fast as Lewis.Neither are offensively or defensively as skillful. In fact I noticed that after Lewis’s defensive display against Rosberg in Bahrain 2014, vettel and Alonso would try in the subsequent races to manoeuvre their cars while defending, like Lewis did. But they visibly simply do not have those skiils in their lockers.

41

Congratulations to Nico Rosberg. We have to remember that he did beat Schumacher when Nico was the clear no 2. in the team. As long as Michael was in the team they followed Michael’s preferences – and Nico had some different opinions about the development of the car – but was not listened to. Still Nico was quicker than Schumacher on several occasions With Schumi gone and Nico’s views taken into account the development took a turn for the better. The championship winner is the one who takes the most points. You can always if and but about DNFs – but so could you do about any year in F1. Nico deserved to win this year!
Wonder just if he regrets his decision when the hype of winning the championship settles down. At least he leaves as an unbeaten world-champion.

42

You are right. Maybe MB could let Nico stay on in some productive way. He may be able to help MB in some small way.

43

Would bet on Hamilton – Bottas . Alonso impossible due to “historical” reasons at McLaren. Verstappen clashes / crashes between team-mates granted. Hamilton – Ricciardo (?) – but would Ricciardo move – Red Bull may be the strongest team next year.
The funny thing is that I believe that whoever replaces Rosberg, it is Hamilton who will be the one more troubled by the team-mate than the other way around. Hamilton – Vettel? If Vettel sets-in quickly Hamilton might leave before mid season.

44

Verstappen is not going to happen. He is Red Bulls golden boy, they’ll never let him go. And with all the aero changes next year they could be the team to beat, so Verstappen isn’t keen on changing either.

45

No basis for that idea, at all.

Lewis relishes a decent team mate.

It is Vettel and Alonso have to have #1 status, otherwise they are not happy bunnies.

46

Agreed with Bottas. One feels sure Williams could be easily persuaded to part with him too – cheaper engine.
Hamilton never functioned well with Button as a team mate at McLaren. Not sure if Bottas would that challenging.

47

I think Nico Hulkenburg would be a good choice to replace Rosberg. He has been a consistent points scorer for FI, he is quick and reliable, he won at Le Mans in 2015 and he has wanted to join a factory team for some time. He would undoubtedly be easier to manage than Alonso and he is German. His recent contract with Renault could be bought out at a much lower cost than Alonso’s with McLaren. I think Hulkenburg would make a great team mate with Hamilton and most importantly enable Merc to win the WCC again in 2017.

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