Three big names are already being touted as frontrunners for the Mercedes position following Nico Rosberg's shock retirement yesterday afternoon.
The German stunned the Formula 1 world on Friday by announcing his immediate retirement from the sport, just days after claiming his first ever world title.
He had faced stiff competition all season from teammate Lewis Hamilton, who defied the orders of his team to try and pip Rosberg to the title during the final race in Abu Dhabi.
Now, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, and Jenson Button all lead the pack of drivers looking to get into the cockpit of the best car in F1.
Spaniard Alonso is driving well and would be desperate to make that count for something. He and Hamilton have worked together before at McLaren, however, it remains to be seen if Mercedes are willing to take on such a partnership after the pair’s explosive 2007 rivalry.
There is also the issue of him already being under contract with McLaren for the coming season.
Vettel has had a frustrating season, and is believed to be looking for a way out of his Ferrari contract after the team’s recent decline.
He is in the final year of a £40m deal, but Mercedes have deep pockets and may yet swoop in to save Rosberg’s fellow German.
As for Button, he is the most unexpected candidate, having only just retired from F1, but sources say he could be tempted back by the mouth-watering prospect of racing for Mercedes. Although not racing, he has an ambassadorial deal for 2017 with McLaren.
19-year-old Red Bull prodigy Max Verstappen and Pascal Wehrlein, already on the books at Mercedes, have also been mentioned, but look less likely candidates.
Lewis Hamilton has already said that he “doesn’t care” who his next teammate is, stating: “It doesn’t matter who they put alongside me. I’ll race them.”
Discussions are set to begin on Monday, but with all top drivers under contract for 2017, Mercedes would most likely have to buy out their preferred candidate.
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