DECEMBER 13, 2016
Rosberg exit not good for F1 says Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone and new F1 director Chase Carey are in contact with Toto Wolff about the identity of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes successor.
That is the claim of respected Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio, as the German giant continues to grapple with Rosberg's shock decision to retire.
Writing in Globo Esporte, Oricchio claims F1 supremo Ecclestone is concerned that Pascal Wehrlein, Mercedes' junior and a leading candidate, will be no match for Lewis Hamilton next year.
So given that Mercedes has won almost every race in the 'power unit' era, an utterly dominant Hamilton would arguably not be good for the F1 brand.
Indeed, while the German is bland in contrast to Hamilton, Ecclestone admits that Rosberg will be missed.
"Ok, not as popular as Lewis, but Nico was a very popular driver," he told PTI news agency. "So his absence is certainly not good for formula one."
Mercedes looked into grabbing a big name like Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel, but McLaren-Honda and Ferrari respectively appear to be refusing to let them go.
German Vettel told the Swiss newspaper Blick: "Stop! It's not an issue. I have a contract with Ferrari in 2017."
And Ecclestone said: "A lot of people are linking Alonso with Mercedes but I would like to wait and see what decision the team takes."
With them out of the frame, Mercedes boss Wolff turned to a driver he manages, Valtteri Bottas, and made an offer to Williams for his release.
But the Munich newspaper TZ quotes Wolff as saying: "They (Williams) are very firmly attached to him."
There are three reasons for that. Firstly, Bottas is a Williams protege, and secondly he will be an important mentor for 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll next year.
And as Bild newspaper reports, the third major factor is Williams' main sponsor, Martini.
"For marketing reasons, the liquor giant needs an older driver," the report claims.