Mercedes To Unveil Rosberg’s ‘Heir’ Next Year

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Formula 1 giants, Mercedes will not reveal the identity of world champion Nico Rosberg’s replacement until the new year.

The German announced his retirement last month – five days after winning his first world title and despite signing a new two-year deal in July.

Mercedes have the problem of finding a team-mate for Lewis Hamilton when all leading drivers are signed elsewhere.

They want to sign Williams’ Valtteri Bottas but have so far not been able to negotiate a deal for the Finn.

A Mercedes spokesman said the team would not reveal any decision before 3 January – and added that did not mean there would be an announcement on that date.

BBC Sport revealed on Sunday that Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff had offered Williams a 10m euro (£8.4m) reduction in their engine bill in return for releasing Bottas from his 2017 contract with Williams.

The team were also given the option of running Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein, although this was not a requirement of the deal.

Williams have rejected that first offer but negotiations are continuing and Wolff is expected to make an improved offer.

Williams are aware that Mercedes have money available because they no longer have to spend Rosberg’s $22m (£17.6m) salary over the next two years.

However, BBC Sport understands Williams are leaning towards rejecting Wolff’s approach, although no final decision has been made.

One difficulty for Williams is that their contract with sponsor Martini, the drinks giant, requires at least one driver over 25 for promotional reasons.

Their other driver, the Canadian rookie Lance Stroll, is only 18, while Wehrlein is 22.

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