Mercedes Grand Prix CEO Nick Fry has revealed that the former Brawn GP outfit hopes to be able to confirm its full driver line-up for the 2010 F1 World Championship 'before Christmas' – as he admitted that the deal with Nico Rosberg had already been done even prior to the German manufacturer's takeover.
It had initially been thought that ex-Williams star Rosberg would partner recently-crowned F1 2009 World Champion Jenson Button at Brackley next season, but the Briton's unexpected defection to McLaren-Mercedes alongside compatriot and title-winning predecessor Lewis Hamilton somewhat threw a spanner into the works.
That revelation has left the current world champions in search of a second driver to partner Rosberg, and whilst it has been mooted that Mercedes' intention is to create an all-German 'super team', such a notion has been rubbished by the Stuttgart marque's motorsport vice-president Norbert Haug.
The names of BMW-Sauber refugee Nick Heidfeld, retired, record-breaking multiple F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher and new Renault signing Robert Kubica – in the event of a withdrawal by the French car maker – have all been repeatedly mentioned in connection with the seat, and with Fry insisting that there is no immediate pressure to rush into a decision, the frantic speculation shows no signs of abating yet awhile.
“It obviously would have been ideal to announce them together,” the Englishman reflected, speaking to Planet F1
, “but that's impossible. We don't have huge time pressure at the moment, but once one goes beyond Christmas and into the New Year it becomes slightly more difficult with seat fits in time for the engineers to talk to the driver. I would hope on the other driver to do it before Christmas, purely for logistical reasons.”
Fry added that the highly-regarded Rosberg – who impressed many in 2009 with his pace, commitment and consistency in what was incontrovertibly not one of the best cars on the grid, as he single-handedly notched up all of Williams 34.5 points over the course of the campaign – had been on the team's radar long before the Mercedes buy-out, dismissing suggestions that the 24-year-old's nationality had played a part in the move.
“Nico was due to join Brawn under any circumstance,” he is quoted as having said by F1SA
. “We are extremely pleased that the circumstances have worked out as they have done, but the negotiation was done principally with the Brawn team and myself and Ross [Brawn – team principal].”