Rosberg retires: Rating the Replacements

Non-executive director of Mercedes racing team Niki Lauda says that practically ‘half of formula one’ has called him in recent days in a bid to win the seat left vacant by retiring champion Nico Rosberg.

And while Lauda may have been exaggerating just a little, it is undoubtedly a ride that many drivers would give an arm and a leg for. FOX sports Asia takes a look at some of the potential replacements.

Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is part of Bottas’ management team and knows him well. The Finn is a steady performer and is already familiar with the Mercedes power unit. Another factor in his favour is his temperament which would eliminate a potential repeat of the Hamilton-Rosberg fireworks. Plus Williams would be likely to accept an offer if Mercedes came in for him.

Rating: 8/10. This presents the easy option.

Sebastian Vettel

Frustrated by a lack of success with Ferrari, Vettel is hoping that rule changes will make him more competitive next year. Nevertheless, he would probably jump at the chance to swap seats, although it’s unlikely Ferrari would be as keen for him to break his contract. Fans would love to see Vettel and Hamilton battling it out in equal machinery, but Mercedes would probably not be so keen given Vettel’s temper and the probability of more petty driver spats.

Rating: 4/10. Don’t hold your breath on this one.

Pascal Wehrlein

The young German has made an impact in his first season in the sport and says he is ‘ready’ to fill the seat vacated by Rosberg. Mercedes were reportedly ready to give him a drive at Monaco when Hamilton threatened a mid-season walkout, so they obviously see something in him. As a Mercedes test driver, a free agent and a German he has major benefits over many of the other candidates although his lack of experience may mean it is too early for him this time around.

Rating 6/10. Could be a case of too much, too young.

Fernando Alonso

Hamilton-Alonso is one rivalry that most F1 fans would like to see given the talents of the two and their history. Toto Wolff has gone on record with the respect he has for Alonso, but the pairing is unlikely to happen as the Spaniard is still under contract with McLaren and Mercedes are unlikely to want another combustible pairing after their recent troubles with Hamilton and Rosberg.

Rating: 5/10 Unlikely, but never say never.

Sergio Perez

After another good year with Force India, the time may be right for Perez to make the move up to one of the top teams. Has been rumoured to be eyeing a seat at Ferrari next year, but would also jump at the chance of a place with the reigning champions.

Rating: 5/10. Keep this one on the back burner.

Esteban Ocon

Another young Mercedes driver who has impressed. Ocon was picked up by Force India alongside Perez for 2017. Has the talent, but with just half a season of Formula 1 experience the opportunity of a ride with Mercedes may have come too early for the Frenchman.

Rating: 3/10. Nice in theory, but unlikely to happen.

Daniel Ricciardo

Toto Wolff is reportedly a big fan of the larger-than-life Aussie, but he is under contract with Red Bull and would be expensive to prize away. Nevertheless, if Mercedes came calling then Ricciardo would be silly not to be interested and Red Bull could be tempted as it would leave their precocious young talent Verstappen as the team’s sole focus.

Rating: 7/10. Stranger things have happened.