Ros­berg set to ex­tend his Mer­cedes con­tract

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

The cham­pi­onship leader’s cur­rent deal is due to end this year – and both sides of the ta­ble are al­ready sharp­en­ing their pen­cils

Nico Ros­berg looks likely to stay on at Mer­cedes be­yond the end of his cur­rent con­tract this sea­son. Both Ros­berg him­self and team boss Toto Wolff have dropped heavy hints that an ex­ten­sion to keep him on as Lewis Hamil­ton’s team-mate is on the cards.

Wolff said: “It is be­tween two par­ties and it needs to pan out in the right way. He has been in the fam­ily for such a long time; he is a very im­por­tant pil­lar of the team and he per­forms well. There is noth­ing that speaks against him join­ing up again but it comes down to the de­tail and that needs to be dis­cussed at a cer­tain stage. Both sides feel com­fort­able about it.”

Ros­berg was asked whether he was con­cerned that he was bat­tling for the ti­tle with­out any guar­an­tees about his fu­ture and replied: “The con­tract is not some­thing that is present in my mind. Why should it be? I’m very com­fort­able any­way here, I have a great re­la­tion­ship and I’ll be here for some time to come, and that’s it.”

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Hamil­ton, who is con­tracted un­til the end of 2018, and Ros­berg works well for Mer­cedes. In Hamil­ton, they have ar­guably the fastest and un­doubt­edly the high­est-prole driver in F1. Ros­berg is quick enough to keep him hon­est and, im­por­tantly, to win when he does not. He is also re­al­is­tic enough to know that, all things be­ing equal, Hamil­ton is the bet­ter driver, yet is psy­cho­log­i­cally strong and ma­ture enough to deal with that.

Re­tain­ing Ros­berg would also be a reec­tion of the sit­u­a­tions of the driv­ers who would be of most in­ter­est as a po­ten­tial re­place­ment. Top of the list are Daniel Ric­cia­rdo and Max Ver­stap­pen, but both are al­ready un­der con­tract to Red Bull – Ver­stap­pen un­til the end of 2017 and Ric­cia­rdo for a year longer. And while Mer­cedes would have no qualms about part­ner­ing Ric­cia­rdo with Hamil­ton on a per­son­al­ity ba­sis, they might con­sider it was too early for Ver­stap­pen. He will be just 19 next year in what will be only his third sea­son in F1.

Pas­cal Wehrlein, mak­ing his de­but for Manor this year, is a con­tracted Mer­cedes pro­tégé. But next sea­son would also be too early for him as well – both in terms of devel­op­ment and in prov­ing whether he is up to the chal­lenge.

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