When Nico Rosberg announced his surprise retirement from Formula One, it brought forth a series of questions warranting answers. While some questions have been answered – such as Rosberg’s reason to retire – there are others remaining.
The big question – who will replace him at Mercedes and be Lewis Hamilton’s teammate in 2017?
Rumors have swirled with people pondering whom it will be, with the current focus being pointed towards Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. Fernando Alonso was on the short list, but recently ruled out the possibilities of switching from McLaren.
The one person who hasn’t openly commented on whom the replacement should be is Lewis Hamilton, remaining silent till recently.
Per his contract, he does not have a say in who they choose, with that being the team’s ultimate decision. However, the contract does that that “once they’ve dwindled [the shortlist] down to five drivers or whatever – they have to discuss with me.”
However, with concerns beginning to spread he didn’t care about his future teammate, he had some comments for UK F1 broadcaster Channel 4, noting the importance of team morale.
“We’ve seen in other teams and times where it can be a poisonous effect on a team, the arch rivalry between drivers. And so for sure that’s really important because I’m really happy here, I love being where I am,” he said. “Okay there have been some interesting scenarios, we generally always pull through – so we have to make sure that whatever we bring is at least as good as what we had, if not better, in terms of creating that energy.”
Team morale is something of importance as Hamilton went through a particular season where things didn’t go as well, and wouldn’t want to repeat the same scenario once again.
Outside of that single concern, Hamilton is leaving the door wide open for the team to whom they bring in.
“Ultimately when they [Mercedes] decide, they can put any driver they want – bring Sebastian, bring Fernando, bring whoever you really want. I drove against Fernando in my first year, and beat him, so that’s not a worry for me,” he said. “I am happy to drive against any of them. But in terms of what is best for the team, probably not the best ideas.”
The decision is looking like it’s paramount and important, though, especially after how the season finished with questions surrounding the disagreement between Hamilton and Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff.
While leading the race, Hamilton slowed the pace of the event, which allowed those behind Rosberg to close in on him; if they could’ve passed, it possibly would’ve swung the championship into Hamilton’s favor instead of Rosberg.
“I don’t think I did anything dangerous today, or unfair,” Hamilton said. “We’re fighting for a world championship, I was in the lead of the race, so I control the pace. That’s the rules.
“For me, I’m in the position where I’ve had a lot of points lost during the season so I’m out there fighting, and I generally never try to do anything to harm the team. But we had already won the constructors’ championship so today it was down to me and Nico, and the team still felt they needed to interfere. I don’t know why they didn’t just let us race. I knew being in the lead I was losing the championship, and there was never a moment I felt I was going to lose the race. I don’t really have much to say to them, to be honest. There was never a moment I felt I was at risk.”
The move didn’t go well with Wolff, with discussions of possible consequences coming Hamilton’s way from the team, stating that there should be respect as “anarchy doesn’t work in any team or any company,” and Hamilton shouldn’t have tried putting himself ahead of working solidly as a team.
As to how this will affect the future, teammate choice, and how the team races next year is yet to be seen. At least, for now, we have some things to discuss as we wait for next season to roll around.
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