Niki Lauda says that “for all intents and purposes half” of the Formula 1 framework has been in contact with Mercedes to offer themselves as a swap for resigning title holder Nico Rosberg.
In the wake of winning his first F1 title in Abu Dhabi a weekend ago, Rosberg stunned the F1 world when he reported his retirement from Formula 1 at the FIA Gala Awards in Vienna on Friday.
This left Mercedes with an opportunity to fill nearby Lewis Hamilton for next season, but when just Sauber and Manor have not declared their driver line-ups for 2017.
Addressing Gazzetta dello Sport, Mercedes non-official director Lauda conceded that Rosberg’s sudden exit had left the Brackley-based team “disorientated”.
Gotten some information about the news, Lauda said: “A couple of hours before the public declaration. He let us know by telephone. I took it seriously, I didn’t expect it, no one in Mercedes envisioned that he had enough.
“At first I didn’t trust it. ‘Nico, what you let us know, would you say you are joking by any possibility? It’s a joke?’ But he said it was all valid. Very amazing.
“When I won the principal title I instantly pondered how I would win a moment. Not the situation with Nico.
“Rosberg’s choice has abandoned us disorientated, and each one of the individuals who added to Nico winning the world title took it seriously.”
Lauda says the fact most top drivers are under contract somewhere else makes the assignment of supplanting Rosberg particularly troublesome, and that taking a youthful driver -, for example, Pascal Wehrlein – would be a “hazard”.