Mercedes are urgently looking for a replacement for the retired F1 champion, Nico Rosberg. Several names have been mentioned as potential successors, but one thing is certain; it won't be Sebastian Vettel.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff on Tuesday ruled out trying to recruit Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel (pictured above, right) for the 2017 Formula One season.
"Yes, we respect the contracts which drivers have at other teams," Wolff said, when asked by the DPA news agency about the fact that Vettel still has a year left on his contract with Ferrari. "We also wouldn't want our drivers to look around for the next-best opportunities." "Contracts exist for these kinds of situations and we respect that," Wolff added.
On Sunday, the four-time drivers' champion himself had noted to reporters at a Ferrari event in Florida that "it's not a big secret" that both he and teammate Kimi Raikkonen had contracts for next season.
McLaren confident in keeping Alonso
At least according to his current employers, Fernando Alonso appears to be another name that you can strike off the list of possible Rosberg successors.
"We have a contract and he's very happy," the McLaren team's new executive director, Zak Brown said on Monday. "Obviously, he wants to be winning races, as do we, but I am not worried about that scenario [him leaving].We are very comfortable where we are at."
McLaren have not won a race since 2012 and have under-performed since entering their partnership with Honda last year, finishing sixth overall this year and ninth out of 10 teams in 2015.
However, Toto Wolff told Sky Sports, as part of an interview to be broadcast on Thursday, that "you have to consider Fernando," potentially reuniting the Hamilton-Alonso pairing that had such an explosive single season together at McLaren back in 2007.
"He is a driver I respect a lot," Wolff said of the Spanish double champion. "He combines talent, speed and experience. But he is in a contract with McLaren-Honda and we just need to weight all the other options up."
Wolff has also ruled out recruiting either Max Verstappen or Daniel Ricciardo, saying there was no chance that Red Bull team boss Christian Horner will let either of them go.
Wehrlein to the rescue?
The names Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez have also come up among the speculations, but the easiest solution may be to give the job to the young German driver Pascal Wehrlein, who spent his debut season with the Manor team.
"If I had to make a Christmas wish list, then I would wish for him to stay in a mid-tier team for another year or two," Wolff told DPA. "But my wish list for this year didn't work out, so in that respect we have to find a good compromise and maybe we need to make a bold decision, like Nico Rosberg did."
For his part, the 22-year-old Wehrlein, who doesn't yet have a Formula One cockpit for 2017, has said he feels up to the challenge.
"One season in F1 is not a lot but I feel ready for the job and confident," the former Mercedes reserve driver told the audience at the Autosport Awards in London on Sunday, where he won the Rookie of the Year award.
pfd/msh (dpa, Reuters)