With rumors of Hamilton leaving McLaren for Mercedes hotting up, especially in the week off between Italy and Singapore, all of the reasons for Mercedes being unavailable have to be re examined.
Chief among them was the assumption that Hamilton would take Schumacher’s seat when he retires at the end of the year.
What if that assumption is wrong?
What if Nico Rosberg is about to be ousted from his seat, perhaps to head to McLaren?
To many F1 observers, Nico Rosberg has been a confusing driver. It has never been easy to get a read on the German’s potential. He was always on an underperforming team with an underwhelming team mate. It was very hard to see if he was getting the most out of the car, or if he was just not being pushed by his team mate.
That story has not changed much when Michael Schumacher arrived at Mercedes. Michael is a shadow of his former self and everyone knows it. It is true that Rosberg has generally gotten the better of the elder statesman for the past couple of years, but that gap has consistently closed to the point where the two drivers are about equal. Not only that, but, besides Rosberg’s win in China, there have not been too many outstanding performances from the younger German while the elder produced a stunning lap in Monaco to take pole.
From McLaren’s perspective, which seems to be a lot more financially constrained than one would think, Rosberg is an appropriate candidate. He is a high quality, mature driver who would cost considerably less than Hamilton. But, one has to wonder about the quality of the driver they are getting. Is he worth the cost savings?
McLaren are in a bit of a tricky spot. Starting next year, they will have to pay for engines themselves, at about 8 million a year. Not only that, but sponsorship is getting tight. That and the car has not been the dominant force in F1 since 2005 by some measures, and the team from Wonking is not in great branding shape.
Rumor has it that this whole thing will play out in the next six days, but either way, there will be some major ramifications in the world of F1.