The Replacement's Replacement

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    Ben Needham

    While all the talk since Nico Rosberg’s retirement announcement has been regarding his potential replacements, little thought has been given to the drivers who could find a lifeline at one of the smaller teams.

    Assuming Mercedes don’t go completely wild and pick a driver who is not on the current grid, below is the list of candidates (Vettel has ruled himself out) and who could benefit further down the chain.

    If Alonso moved from McLaren, they’d be in for a bit of a dilemma. The obvious move would be to bring Jenson Button back in, but he’s a driver who was clearly behind Alonso by the end of 2016 and he’s clearly ready for a break. Short of that, it’s difficult to see any other candidates, as it would be a strange move to go from two WDC’s to two rookies. Perez/Magnussen would be unlikely to return, but perhaps Hulkenberg or Grosjean could be tempted.
    Likely: Jenson Button

    The Force India cars are perhaps the most sought-after outside the Top 3 and McLaren. There’d surely be a long queue of young drivers looking to hop in alongside Ocon, but he’d most likely find his 2016 team-mate joining him for next season.
    Likely: Pascal Wehrlein.

    Of all the teams who stand to lose a driver, Williams is probably the most nervous. Without Bottas they are really missing a team leader against the unproven Stroll. The team seem to be on a downward curve at the moment and are unlikely to attract big names. I believe Paul Di Resta is still their reserve driver, but surely the team would prefer to utilise the Mercedes link to pinch the promising Wehrlein. A Wehrlein-Stroll line-up would still be a risk and it’s unlike Williams to go for such inexperience.
    Likely: Pascal Wehrlein

    This seems to be the most clear-cut. If Ocon were to take the spare Mercedes, then Wehrlein would surely jump into the Force India, despite the snub he had previously.
    Likely: Pascal Wehrlein

    From the above, it looks like Wehrlein stands to make gains from most of the potential replacements who currently have a Mercedes-engine. If he were to take the “top job” himself, then Manor would probably just pick up another pay/placed driver from a top team’s junior squad.
    Likely: Whoever can offer a bit of cash

    Sainz jumping from the Red Bull “family” is unlikely, but would be a strong selection from Mercedes. If this were to happen it seems obvious that Gasly would take the seat, but it would also be a lifeline to Kvyat, who is otherwise in the firing line himself.
    Likely: Pierre Gasly

    One of these to leaving a potentially strong Red Bull is unlikely, but neither have outright denied the links. The Red Bull hierarchy would surely see Sainz promoted, followed by Gasly into the Toro Rosso.
    Likely: Carlos Sainz (and Pierre Gasly)

    So it would seem that Wehrlein is probably in line to drive something fast whether it’s the Mercedes or something else. Button won’t be planning 2017’s holidays just yet and Sainz/Gasly will be crossing their fingers.


    Alonso:Button or Sainz Jr

    Perez:Wehrlein,Celis(if he has the license).

    Bottas:Normally,Nasr,Wehrlein,Di Resta,but i would bet on a return of a familiar face(Massa!).

    Wehrlein:Nasr,Gutierrrez,Maldonado(yes Pastor)

    Sainz:Pierre Gasly


    Hamilton must be positively salivating. In the coming season he could break all known records for most wins in one season, most pole positions in one season, most fastest laps in one season, most points and the championship sown up by the time the circus arrives in Austin and all because of his own genius and superb driving. Of course if he fails in any of those objectives it will of course be the fault of anyone but him.

    Even the great B E, having said that Nico Rosberg was just a champion and nothing else has now said that his departure will leave a big hole in F1. He and his new best mate from Liberty are worried that it might affect how much money they make.

    Whichever poor sod takes the drive I hope that they will be very well compensated for the barrage of psychological warfare that will be unleashed to keep them in their rightful place, behind their, self-appointed, leading driver. I think I might take a year off and not bother watching this coming season. It has all the signs of being the most boring ever.


    Things really are getting serious now. Bottas and Sainz are pretty much the only truly viable candidates if Mercedes want a hope of contending with a likely rejuvenated Red Bull in the constructors’ championship and both are looking pretty near impossible to poach.

    We know that Mercedes have quickly got on to drafting a second proposal for Williams after the first was rejected, but we now have senior Williams personnel, Pat Symonds, talking about how essential it is that they keep Bottas. It is understandable, given that because they have rookie Stroll on contract, Wehrlein is not much of a consolation prize. Also Martini have expressed concerns about having two drivers under 22. If they do lose Bottas, Kvyat might be a better replacement providing they can secure his release, and they might even have to consider di Resta. In any case, it would be a fairly devastating loss for Williams.

    Sainz looks no less difficult. Now a certified star of the future, he no doubt tops Mercedes preference list, which also means Red Bull will be all the more adamant to retain him. The fact that Gasly, who would have taken Sainz’s place no doubt, is about to announce his new Super Formula deal, probably means Mercedes’ approach has fallen on deaf ears. So Marko has effectively frustrated Carlos’ hopes of a top-level promotion twice in one year. Nice.

    And that leaves Wehrlein. Such are the crippling permutations of Rosberg’s decision, especially at a time when the driver market music has stopped, that he almost needs to be talked round…or failing that, referred to the CRB (Contract Recognition Board). Nico is costing his team points before the season has even begun, and when there is a contract in place, surely that cannot be tolerated.


    Robin Frijns! :p

    Or maybe JEV?

    Or has Toto got a wif nevermind.


    Robin Frijns! :p

    Or maybe JEV?

    Or has Toto got a wif…nevermind.

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