Formula 1

Mercedes aim to announce new driver later this month

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Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg took everyone by surprise with a shock retirement announcement at the FIA Prize Gala in Vienna last week.

Not only the racing fraternity, but his own team members were in a state of shock by the declaration, and now, with him departing ahead of next season, Mercedes have a tough job of finding a suitable replacement.

The team hierarchy are considering all available options and are hoping to the make the highly anticipated announcement at the cusp of new year.

The UK-based outfit’s non-executive director Niki Lauda recently admitted that he also was taken aback by the decision of one of their premier drivers.

Speaking on the issue, Lauda was quoted by Daily Mirror saying: "I was really surprised because normally I think all kind of things can happen but this was never on my radar."

He revealed that shortly after the public statement made by Rosberg, the 67-year-old had a candid chat with the German, which ended all speculations for Lauda.

"I spoke to him afterwards to find out because I did this twice in my career, I called him and really wanted to make sure it is not a quick decision that you might regret, and to my question of how sure are you, he said: '1,000 per cent'.

"Then I knew that it is over, you cannot convince him any more. Nico had one aim, to win the championship, and that's it."

It is indeed an arduous task for the team to find an alternative for a driver who has been a stalwart for them over the course of recent seasons.

Mercedes are closely monitoring some of the big names of the sport, but the only hindrance remain as those drivers are contracted for the next term with their respective teams.

Former world champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso could be the potential candidates to fill the void, whereas young prodigy Max Verstappen is also among the top of their wishlist.

Drivers like Pascal Wehrlein, Valtteri Bottas, and Esteban Ocon, however, could be easier choices to lure to Mercedes.

Although, Lauda confirmed that the champions are looking for someone who could instantly make an impact on his arrival.

He added: “He[Rosberg] is a huge loss because we had the quickest driver set-up over the last three years.

"Nico and Lewis were pushing each other, and now we have to find a better man than Nico because we want to continue to win."

The fact that there is not ample time to secure someone ahead of the testing and training for the next campaign, it is quite a tough task to realise in a hurry.

The Austrian continued: "This is a big problem now for us as a team to find the appropriate replacement. We have to think about it and contact everyone and do proper research on who we're going to put in the best car of Formula One.

"We certainly need a driver for the first test of the new car in February but I can assure you it will happen earlier because whoever it is we have to train them on the simulator, train him into the team.

"I think we should have a decision before the end of the year. We'll give an unexpected Christmas present to one of the drivers."

Nonetheless, Mercedes being one of the bigwigs in the top-flight of racing, they have the ability to attract big names to their team before the 2017 season begins in three month’s time.

Formula 1

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