Mercedes’ first choice to replace Nico Rosberg after the German’s shock retirement from Formula 1 has emerged, as it has been revealed that they have approached Williams’ Valtteri Bottas for the team next season.
BBC Sport reported that Williams rejected Mercedes’ first offer for Valterri Bottas, though, as the Finnish driver is still under contract with them until the end of the 2017 Formula 1 season. Part of Mercedes’ offer to Williams would have seen him paying Mercedes just half of the usual fee for their engine, which Mercedes provides for them. Mercedes would have allowed Williams to replace Valtteri Bottas with their reserve team driver Pascal Wehrlein, too.
Toto Wolff, who is the boss of Mercedes’ Formula 1 team, has spent the last few days considering his options to replace Nico Rosberg, and he has now zeroed in on 27-year-old Valtteri Bottas as his first choice. Toto Wolff believes that Valterri Bottas has similar qualities to Nico Rosberg, as he is a calm, reliable, and consistent driver, which he thinks will compliment the more abrasive Lewis Hamilton.
Despite Williams’ initial rejection of Mercedes’ offer for Valterri Bottas, it’s widely expected that negotiations between the two teams will continue over the next few days. There are added complications to the potential deal for Valterri Bottas, though, as Williams are wary of partnering 22-year-old Wehrlein with 18-year-old Lance Stroll, who has already been signed by Williams to drive for the team in 2017.
Williams wants a more mature and experienced racer to partner Lance Stroll, and they’re aware that two inexperienced drivers could scupper Williams’ attempts to achieve their maximum potential. One of Williams’ main sponsors, Martini, is also believed to have an issue with the idea of two drivers that are both aged under 25, as that will complicate their promotional plans.
Nico Rosberg’s retirement from Formula 1 was announced on Friday, December 2, just five days after he had won his first world title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The 31-year-old achieved this by finishing second in the final race of the season, but that still meant he had acquired 385 points over the course of the season compared to Lewis Hamilton’s 380 points.
Nico Rosberg released a statement when announcing his retirement that fully explained his decision.
Nico Rosberg declared (via Sky Sports), “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.”
Rosberg revealed that his efforts over the course of the past season to win the Formula 1 championship had seen him sacrifice time with his family, as his wife Vivian “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.”
Shortly after Nico Rosberg’s startling announcement, Lewis Hamilton insisted that it would “be strange and it will be sad to not have him in the team next year,” but he also admitted that he wasn’t surprised by the decision, adding, “He has a family he wants to focus on and F1 takes so much from you.”
Lewis Hamilton also declared, via BBC Sport, that he “doesn’t care” who Mercedes eventually pick as his team-mate, as he remarked, “It doesn’t matter who they put alongside me. I’ll race them. I’m here to race. The focus is on next year and hoping for a better season.”
[Featured Image by Lars Baron/Getty Images]