Nico Rosberg ‘wouldn’t go to Ferrari hoping to win the title’ with Red Bull the ‘safe’ bet

Michelle Foster
Nico Rosberg wearing a hat and smiling.Dorset, December 2021.

Seeking their sixth team boss since Christian Horner took over at Red Bull, their fifth since Toto Wolff stepped up at Mercedes, Nico Rosberg says a lack of continuity is hurting Ferrari.

Ferrari announced earlier this month that Mattia Binotto had handed in his resignation, bringing to an end months of speculation regarding the team boss’ future.

With their title challenge imploding under the weight of reliability and strategy errors, fans and pundits alike began to call for changes as Formula 1 entered its summer break.

But while the Scuderia stuck with Binotto, insisting it was not as bad as it looked, come the end of the season it was game over for the Italian who reportedly handed in his resignation before he could be sacked.

Now the hunt is on to find a new team principal but it is, at least since Jean Todt stepped down after the 2007 season, a rather short-lived position.

Stefano Domenicali for less than seven years, Marco Mattiacci didn’t even last 12 months, Maurizio Arrivabene lasted four years which was matched by Binotto.

In sharp contrast Horner has been team boss at Red Bull since 2005 while Wolff became Mercedes’ team boss in 2013.

“Is it right to change?” Rosberg asked Italian daily newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport. “I don’t know, but I know that continuity is a value in Formula 1.

“Mercedes and Red Bull have not changed most of the key people for ten years. That’s what Ferrari lacks. Being a team principal is one of the hardest jobs in the world.”

Who’s on Ferrari’s short list?

Ferrari’s short list is said to be headed up by Alfa Romeo team boss Fred Vasseur with some reports claiming it’s a done deal.

The Scuderia, is has been reported, initially approached Horner and McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl last winter already but both turned them down. So too did AlphaTauri’s Franz Tost.

Whether the team secures Vasseur’s signature could be down to his Sauber bosses and whether or not they’re willing to release him from his contract.

“It will be tough for Ferrari,” said Rosberg of their search, “because there aren’t many people available on the market.

“The team principal role is complicated in all aspects, much more there because you have to deal with incredible pressure. Let’s see what solution they find.”

One of the new boss’ first jobs will be deciding if he wants a number one driver or not, something Vasseur is said to favour with the Frenchman likely to give that role to Charles Leclerc over Carlos Sainz.

Rosberg, though, says he should let them race.

“No,” he said when asked about a one and two driver, “that is certainly not the key to the change that is needed. He must do as in 2022, leave them free to race.”

‘Wouldn’t go to Ferrari hoping to win the title’

Rosberg retired from Formula 1 at the end of the 2016 season, calling time on his career after beating Lewis Hamilton to the Drivers’ Championship title in a tension-fraught season.

Today if he were to return he’d opt for either Red Bull or Ferrari, saying they each bring something different to the table.

“If I were a driver and I could choose the team in which to race, I would go to Red Bull, to be on the safe side,” he said.

“Or in Ferrari because I never had this opportunity during my F1 career and Ferrari will always have a unique charm and because it’s the historical red team. But I wouldn’t go there hoping to win the title.”

The German is impressed with Red Bull’s current World Champion Max Verstappen, now a double World Champion with 35 race wins to his name.

“At 25 he has already won more than Alonso,” he said. “He has an incredible talent and is now complete: he has a warrior spirit like [Michael] Schumacher or [Ayrton] Senna, yet he no longer makes mistakes. And in fact no rival can keep up with him.

“I would also add that I was surprised because he got off to a bad start because Ferrari was superior. He pulled off a historic season with 15 wins. He will remain among the five greatest ever.”

Read more: What next for Mattia Binotto? Five possible destinations after Ferrari F1 exit