There’s no doubt that the shock retirement of the new Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg has sent the whole F1 world into pandemonium. No one was expecting the now former Mercedes driver to hang up his helmet straight after securing his first world championship, following in the footsteps of his father Keke who climbed the top of the motorsport world in 1982. However it seems to come so close in the previous two seasons and after an epic season-long battle with team-mate Lewis Hamilton, the thought of defending was too much for the German. Besides as he has said, now he has joined the elite world champion club what does he have to prove?
This does leave a dilemma however for the Mercedes F1 team, who now have a short amount of time to fill the world champion’s seat. With many talents drivers currently on the grid and many waiting in the wings, who would be the perfect candidate to take on Nico Rosberg seat in the Silver Arrow. This is 5 F1 stars who could replace Nico Rosberg.
5. Jenson Button
Now granted this is very much an unlikely scenario but he is firmly one of our favourites at MANthoughts. Jenson has decided to head off into the sunset calling an end on his F1 career for the moment at least. The 2009 world champion could be a good option for Mercedes because of his experience, with many of the development and reserve drivers at Mercedes being very talented but also very green. Jenson will be able to adapt to the rule changes that are to come next year and will have extensive knowledge of the F1 calendar.
It’s easy to forget in the fast-paced world of Formula 1 but Jenson will be well known to the Brackley-based outfit through their previous intergrations as world championship winning Brawn GP and of course even before that as Honda F1. Jenson won his one and only world championship with the Brawn team and the following year Mercedes took a majority share and the Brit signed with McLaren. Whilst it would be somewhat of a homecoming for Button, it is not the most likely scenario as he looks for some down time after spending his whole adult life in F1. He could however be a part of the story as Mercedes could poach a driver from another team and they need a fast replacement who is ready to go.
4. Daniel Ricciardo
For many fans, commentators and critics, Daniel Ricciardo has been the stand-out driver in 2016. Alongside his Red Bull Racing team-mate Max Verstappen, they were the only drivers not in a Mercedes car to win a race. Daniel Ricciardo has a big fan in Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff which could result in a deal being made with the Red Bull team to release him from his contract and put him in the Silver Arrow alongside Hamilton.
If it is to be believed that Red Bull will start to close the gap with the Mercedes next year with the rule changes, will Ricciardo want to move? Many are predicting an interesting dynamic between the two Red Bull drivers next year especially if they are competiting for a potential world title. Verstappen is Formula 1’s fastest rising star but still lacks the experience and some argue the maturity of someone like Ricciardo, which could ultimately grate.
3. Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas would be a solid and intelligent choice as a partner to Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. He has quietly got on with his job at Williams providing consistent drives and great performances over his past four seasons there. With an existing relationship with Toto Wolff who highly rates the young Finn, and Williams struggling for funds, the historic team could be in a position to provide Mercedes with their new driver if a good enough deal is made or incentives are offered.
One reason however Williams may be reluctant to do a deal with Mercedes is that without Bottas and with Felipe Massa retiring, Williams will not have an experienced driver to lead the team. Currently waiting in the wings at Williams is highly-rated Lance Stroll but even with a Felipe Nasr, or one of the many talented reserve drivers or junior drivers waiting for a seat in Formula 1, it will be a very in-experienced line-up at Williams. Something a team who needs results and prize money will not want to gamble with. This could be where Jenson Button comes into the picture!
2. Sebastian Vettel
It seems the magic has definitely ran out on four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel’s Italian adventure with Ferrari. Despite outperforming team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for most of this season and a number of podiums along the way, Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene reportedly wants Vettel to prove he deserves his seat beyond 2017. Disappointed with decisions made by Ferrari, a lack of performance and significant departures, Vettel could be looking for a new team.
There’s no doubt Sebastian Vettel comes with natural talent and an impressive CV, and Mercedes being a German team, they will be keen to continue the tradition of having a German driver. Original plans for the team saw Mercedes try to poach Vettel from then high-flying Red Bull using Michael Schumacher as bait. Whilst that never came to fruition, now a few years down the line it could finally happen. Mercedes will have to carefully manage two highly competitive and highly talented drivers in Sebastian Vettel and three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
1. Fernando Alonso
It’s no secret that Fernando Alonso didn’t really want to rejoin McLaren and that he’s not enjoying his time there. However after he made an early jump from Ferrari hoping Rosberg was on the way out of Mercedes in 2014, he was left without a drive when the German stayed on. McLaren was his only option for 2015 and both him and Jenson Button have struggled with the Honda-powered car.
Alonso is still incredibly hungry, hunting down his third world title and will be a great acquisition for the Mercedes team. Details are not clear about clauses in his McLaren contract as to whether he can leave early but anything could happen at the Woking team as highlighted by the ousting of McLaren stalwart, Ron Dennis. Fernando’s desire to be in a competitive car is clear and it is hard to believe his agent wasn’t the first to ring Wolff or Mercedes upon hearing the news of Rosberg’s departure. One challenge for Mercedes will be putting Alonso and Hamilton back together, because we all know how that ended last time!
There are a whole host of drivers that could possibly take the place of Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes for the 2017 F1 season. Is there someone we haven’t considered who you believe should take the world champion’s place? Comment below or tell us on social media who you believe should be sat in the Silver Arrow next year.