Lewis Hamilton say he doesn't care who Mercedes picks as F1 world champion Nico Rosberg's replacement, following the shocking news of the German's retirement from the sport with immediate effect.
After sealing a maiden F1 world title last Sunday in Abu Dhabi, the 31-year-old made the surprise announcement during the build-up to the FIA awards ceremony, explaining he wouldn't be prepared to give as much to defend his title and wanted to spend more time with his family.
READ: Nico Rosberg retires from F1 with immediate effect
Hamilton, who like Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was only told of Rosberg's decision this week, has paid tribute to his outgoing team-mate rival and appreciates his reasons behind the decision.
The British driver will now have a new team-mate for the first time since joining Mercedes in 2013 and with options wide-ranging for the title-contender race seat, Hamilton says he doesn't care who fills it for 2017.
"It doesn't matter who. I'll race them, I'm here to race," Hamilton said at the FIA awards ceremony in Vienna.
"This is the first time he's won [a title] in 18 years, hence why it was not a surprise that he decided to stop. He's also got a family to focus on, and wants more children, and Formula One takes so much of your time.”
VOTE: Who should replace Rosberg at Mercedes in 2017?
Hamilton conceded he will miss his childhood friend and racing rival, with the pair sharing time together during their karting days before resuming their rivalry in F1.
The pair have clashed as Mercedes team-mates with the F1 world title at stake for the past three years which has seen a number of on track collisions, most notably the first-lap crash at this year's Spanish Grand Prix.
“Will I miss the rivalry? Of course,” he said. "We started out when we were 13 and we'd always talked about being champions. When I joined this team, Nico was there, which was again something we talked about when we were kids.
"It's going to be very, very strange and it will be sad not to have him in the team next year. The sport will miss him and I wish him all the best.
"Of course it is a shame that he won't allow me to take it [the title] back or fight to take it back but that is his choice and I respect his decision, go out on top while you can."
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