Mercedes aiming to name second driver this month


The various jokes and Photoshop aside, Mercedes has a serious task on its hands.

At a time when all but a couple of the 2016 drivers have secure contracts for 2017, the German team has to find a teammate for Lewis Hamilton following Nico Rosberg's shock retirement.

While engine deals could persuade Williams to release Valtteri Bottas or Force India to release Sergio Perez, it is unlikely that Renault would be willing to let Nico Hulkenberg go. Likewise Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.

Consequently, one has to wonder whether the German team will put Pascal Wehrlein alongside the Briton - even though he was never totally convincing this season - or perhaps call on Force India to release Esteban Ocon.

Of course, two proven winners, and world champions, even if only for forty-seconds in one case, are available, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa both having retired a week ago, pipping Rosberg by just five days.

Fact is, other than the lack of availability of real talent, the clock is ticking.

"This is a big problem now for us as a team to find the appropriate replacement," admitted Niki Lauda, according to the Daily Mail. "We have to think about it and contact everyone and do proper research on who we're going to put in the best car in F1.

"We certainly need a driver for the first test of the new car in February but I can assure you it will happen earlier because whoever it is we have to train them on the simulator, train him into the team," he added. "I think we should have a decision before the end of the year... we'll give an unexpected Christmas present to one of the drivers."

Hamilton claims not to be bothered who takes the seat alongside him, insisting that he will not attempt to influence the decision. That said, he is adamant that the teams needs someone who can "stand the heat".

"We need someone with good values to come in and represent the team in a positive way," he said at the FIA prize-giving on Friday, "a good work ethic and consistency so we can win the constructors' championship.

"In terms of challenging for constructors' titles, which is the team's first goal, we need to make sure we're equally as consistent as we were before."

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Published: 04/12/2016
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