Mercedes non-executive chairman and three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda says he is not happy with the timing of Nico Rosberg’s sudden retirement.
It’s fair to say Rosberg’s retirement announcement took many of us by surprise, including the Mercedes team.
The exit has left a big gap for Mercedes to fill in a fairly short amount of time and with the team heading into new regulations off the back of three constructors’ titles, the stakes are high.
Mercedes boss and F1 legend Lauda has admitted the timing of Rosberg’s retirement didn’t give the team much time to prepare a “Plan B” and made the Brackley-based outfit look “dumb”.
Rosberg confirmed his retirement on Friday, just a few days after telling Mercedes – where he was set to continue at through to 2018.
“What annoys me the most is that now Nico is telling us that he would have continued had he not won the world championship,” Lauda was quoted saying by Germany’s Die Welt newspaper.
“This is something he could have at least hinted at when he signed his contract. In this case, we could have prepared a Plan B – we would have had to in order to be ready. But it is as it is.
“We all gave him the opportunity to become world champion in a fantastic car – and then he tells us he wants to retire.
“This has created a huge hole in this great working team. And we’re left looking dumb.”
Adding about Rosberg not defending his title, he said: “[Back in my day] I definitely wanted to defend my title. It was a challenge to have #1 on the car and to beat the opposition again.
“In fact it was the most important thing to defend the title. You only wanted to be champion to do that.
“Nico chose to go down a different path, he always wanted to. The problem is he never gave any signs that these were his plans. This is why it took us by surprise.”
Previously Lauda told the Gazzetta dello Sport the news had left Mercedes “disorientated and unprepared” and that “practicality half the grid” had been in touch about the vacant drive.