Mercedes is about to start a new season in the racing department. Formula One is waiting for the big announcement about who is going to replace retired world champion Nico Rosberg to team up with Lewis Hamilton.
The team made it clear before the Christmas break that they would have nothing to comment on the full return to work on Tuesday.
There is enough evidence, however, to suggest the decision is all but already made.
As mentioned by motorsport.com website, Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas was at the Mercedes factory at Brackley. Few day before Christmas Bottas met team engineers and tried out the cockpit of the 2017 car.
Bottas has raced for Mercedes-powered Williams as he debuted in Formula One in 2013. Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff, a former Williams shareholder, has also been involved with the Bottas’s management team.
The 27-year-old is the bookmakers’ favorite to replace Rosberg, who quit out of the blue last month only five days after winning his first title. However, other elements may need to fall into place before a deal can be announced.
One such element would be for Brazilian veteran Felipe Massa to agree to dissolve his announced retirement. Moreover, he should return to Williams as Bottas’s replacement.
Claire Williams, deputy principal of the team founded by her father, hinted last month that Williams would be open to Botta’s departure if “an experienced, credible alternative was available” – such as the Brazilian driver Massa.
Pascal Wehrlein, the 22-year-old Mercedes reserve driver, is a possible replace to Rosberg’s seat, but he lacks experience. This, on the other hand, is another part of the big picture.
The young German took part in the tail-enders Manor last year, scoring the only point for a financially-challenged team. However, Wehrlein is expected to join Ferrari-engined Sauber parallel to Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson.
Wolff, in his final statements before the break, made it clear that Mercedes’ best interests would always come first.