Nico Rosberg has stunned the sporting world by today announcing his retirement from both the Mercedes-AMG team, and Formula 1 racing. Last Sunday in Abu Dhabi, he became the first German driver to win an F1 World Championship at the wheel of a Mercedes, but prior to the 2016 FIA Prize Giving in Vienna, Austria on 2 December 2016, Rosberg announced that he will stop racing with immediate effect.
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolf has declared that the team 'will take the necessary time to evaluate our options and then find the right path for our future' but here are D_TRB we prefer to strike while the iron is hot. Here then, are our picks to replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes in 2017:
1) NICO ROSBERG. That’s right, Nico will wake up tomorrow, realise he’s at the top of his game, and send Toto a groveling text (complete with ‘embarrassed face’ emoji) to plead for his old job back.
Likelihood: 0 out 10. Rosberg’s made it clear he’s done – you can read his full statement below.
2) ROSCOE. Lewis's pedigree bulldog in shock race seat move!
Likelihood: 0 out 10. Lewis's dogs have spent enough time in the paddocks over the years to know the Merc F1 car inside and out, but alas Roscoe lacks the opposable thumbs or rigorous fitness regime to make him a world champ. Plus Lewis fell out with best-mate Nico, so what would happen if Roscoe started putting the car on pole?
3) JENSON BUTTON. Jenson miraculously un-retires, realising he's still at the top of his game.
Likelihood: 8 out 10. Jenson's tied to an ‘ambassadorial’ contract at McLaren, but the buyout cost would be next to nothing when measured against what McLaren or Ferrari would demand for Alonso or Vettel respectively. Plus he’s got history with this team – Mercedes were once Brawn GP, with whom Jenson won his F1 title.
4) MARK WEBBER. Aussie Grit miraculously un-retires, realising he's still at the top of his game.
Likelihood: 2 out 10. Fans would love to have Webber back on the grid, but despite staying fit in a Porsche 919 LMP1 car, he's not familiar with the current-generation of Formula 1 racers. The rules change next year, but it would be a big ask to come back after three years away from the sport. Plus he retired for a reason, and has a 'special representative' contract with Porsche.
5) NO ONE. Lewis refuses to allow Mercedes to replace Nico with anyone at all.
Likelihood: 10 out of 10 (also 0 out of 10). The reality is it's not a legal move, so as much as Lewis might like the idea of being the only driver in the best car on the grid, it's just not going to happen.
6) SEB VETTEL. Vettel leaves Ferrari, goes head-to-head with Lewis in the same car, and we finally find out whether it was skill or the car that took Seb to four back-to-back titles
Likelihood: 1 out of 10. Ferrari write themselves out of the running for the championship with this move.
7) FERNANDO ALONSO. Err, he's a double world champion…
Likelihood: 3 out of 10. Until he made the move to McLaren, Fernando was long considered the best driver on the grid. He's been in the doldrums and McLaren are unlikely to be a contender for the title in 2017. Could a move to Mercedes reinvigorate him? Alas a contract buy-out could cost Merc millions. And he and Lewis weren't the best of team-mates.
8) PASCAL WEHRLEIN/ESTEBAN OCON. Two junior drivers who have risen through Mercedes' ranks.
Likelihood: 6 out of 10. It's a sensible choice to promote one of the youngsters – they're cheap and won't challenge Lewis. But equally, can they keep up with the rest of the grid?
9) VALTTERI BOTTAS. Quick, and in a team powered by a Mercedes engine…
Likelihood: 8 out of 10. 'Cash considerations' and Ocon or Wehrlein could secure the Finn's services. Will Williams give him up, and will Lewis want him?
10) MAX VERSTAPPEN. World champion in waiting…
Likelihood: -1 out of 10. Christian Horner and Helmut Marko would be mad to let young Max go. He's probably the next new world champion, so why let that happen at Mercedes rather than Red Bull?
11) DANIEL RICCIARDO. He showed up Vettel at Red Bull…
Likelihood: 6 out of 10. Danny Ric finished third in this year's world championship, but Max might be better, and Red Bull aren't shy about letting good drivers go. Wild speculation, but should he jump before he's pushed out for a new recruit rising up the ranks of Red Bull's young driver programme?
Over to you all for your thoughts on who will replace Nico…
NICO ROSBERG'S RETIREMENT STATEMENT IN FULL:
'Since 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my "one thing" to become Formula One World Champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target. And now I’ve made it. I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right. My strongest emotion right now is deep gratitude to everybody who supported me to make that dream happen.
'This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough. I pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last two years; they fuelled my motivation to levels I had never experienced before. And of course that had an impact on the ones I love, too – it was a whole family effort of sacrifice, putting everything behind our target. I cannot find enough words to thank my wife Vivian; she has been incredible. She understood that this year was the big one, our opportunity to do it, and created the space for me to get full recovery between every race, looking after our daughter each night, taking over when things got tough and putting our championship first.
'When I won the race in Suzuka, from the moment when the destiny of the title was in my own hands, the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became World Champion. On Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, I knew that it could be my last race and that feeling cleared my head before the start. I wanted to enjoy every part of the experience, knowing it might be the last time… and then the lights went out and I had the most intense 55 laps of my life. I took my decision on Monday evening. After reflecting for a day, the first people I told were Vivian and Georg (Nolte, from Nico’s management team), followed by Toto.
'The only thing that makes this decision in any way difficult for me is because I am putting my racing family into a tough situation. But Toto understood. He knew straight away that I was completely convinced and that reassured me. My proudest achievement in racing will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people, the Silver Arrows.
'Now, I’m just here to enjoy the moment. There is time to savour the next weeks, to reflect on the season and to enjoy every experience that comes my way. After that, I will turn the next corner in my life and see what it has in store for me…'