After Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement from Formula One, speculation is immediately flocking to the elusive vacancy that’s opened up at the current Constructor’s Champions and one of the names circulating the position is the proven veteran of the sport Fernando Alonso.
Back in May, Toto Wolff said this on the prospect of Rosberg not extending his contract, which at the time had not yet been confirmed. Does the German champion’s sudden exit from the sport add validity to these comments once again?
“Fernando is one of the best drivers in history and I like his character, but our priority now is Nico. If [Rosberg] does not want to renew, then we will consider other options, like Fernando.
[Alonso’s] age is not a problem – his speed and his motivation are still there.
Fernando explored his options and one of them was Mercedes. He spoke to us, but we could not negotiate as we promised Lewis [Hamilton] that while we tried to renew his deal we would not talk with other drivers and we did not.”
– Toto Wolff
“This is a brave decision by Nico and testament to the strength of his character. He has chosen to leave at the pinnacle of his career, as World Champion, having achieved his childhood dream. The clarity of his judgement meant I accepted his decision straight away when he told me. It’s impossible to capture the essence of a person in a few short words. But Nico has a special combination of natural talent and fighting spirit that have brought him to where he is today.
Throughout his career, people have thought he was on a golden path to success just because his father was a World Champion; in fact, I think in some ways that made the challenge greater – and meant he had to fight even harder with the weight of expectation on his shoulders. With Mercedes, Nico has been a relentless competitor, bouncing back from tough times in an inspirational way, and he earned the respect of the sport with his tenacity, his fighting spirit and his grace under pressure.”
– Toto Wolff