Nico Rosberg says he would have liked to see Fernando Alonso team up with Lewis Hamilton, but admits that such a driver line-up would have generated “fireworks” at Mercedes.
Shortly after clinching the 2016 drivers title, Rosberg announced his decision to retire from the sport, leaving Mercedes to find a replacement within a short period of time.
Alonso, who is rating by many as the best driver on the grid, was never a realistic option as the Spaniard was already bound by a contract with McLaren.
But Rosberg says that the fan inside him would have liked to see Alonso race in the same team as Hamilton, despite the obvious repercussions of having two explosive drivers in the same garage.
“OK, because I'm now a fan, and on that side of the fence, it's very easy to respond. Everyone says Alonso and I say it too, because there would be fireworks with Hamilton.”
With several other drivers such as Nico Hulkenberg locked into contract with other teams, Mercedes eventually opted for Valtteri Bottas. And Rosberg was full of praise of Mercedes' choice and believes the Finn has the potential to beat Hamilton in the same car.
“As a fan, it would be nice, but for the team, it wouldn't work. They've found a great solution. Bottas is fast and though Hamilton will be at a very, very high level and it will be difficult to beat him, I have proved that he can.”
The 31-year-old expects Mercedes to stay at the sharp end of the grid in 2017, but expects Red Bull to mount a stronger challenge.
"Mercedes is the favourite, we are three times champion, although there are teams that are dangerous, like Red Bull," he said.
"Adrian Newey and new regulations are a combination that has been successful in the past, and I've also heard that he is back with the team as he was before. Red Bull will be the second force."
by Rachit Thukral