Alonso a 'fireworks' option: Rosberg

Nico Rosberg wanted Mercedes to replace him with Fernando Alonso (pictured).
Nico Rosberg wanted Mercedes to replace him with Fernando Alonso (pictured).PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Nico Rosberg wanted Mercedes to replace him with Fernando Alonso because of the "fireworks" it would have created with Lewis Hamilton.

The German announced his unexpected retirement five days after winning his first Formula One drivers' world championship.

Speculation was rife as to who would replace him, with Mercedes finally poaching Valterri Bottas from Williams. But if Rosberg had his way, he would have picked the two-time world champion from McLaren.

He told Spain's Marca: "Everyone says Alonso and I say it too, because there would be fireworks with Hamilton. As a fan, it would be nice, but for the team, it wouldn't work."

The intense pressure of racing against Hamilton, widely regarded as the faster of the two drivers, was believed to have been a factor in Rosberg's decision to retire.

He told Marca that he was "happier" now that he was no longer racing against Hamilton.

This will be the first season since 1994 - when Alain Prost retired from Williams - that the reigning world champion is not on the starting grid.

The German has taken up an ambassadorial role at Mercedes and says he will be attending a few races this year.

"I want to go and be close to the sport - I love it and I'll be a fan from now on," he said.

Bottas will have his work cut out to beat Hamilton, but Rosberg thinks it is possible, and believes the Finn could take pole position at the first race of the season in Melbourne at the end of March.

"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 (be beaten)," he added.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2017, with the headline 'Alonso a 'fireworks' option: Rosberg'. Print Edition | Subscribe