Ferrari are not expecting a weaker Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s retirement, after all the reigning champions “still have Lewis Hamilton on board.”
Rosberg’s shock announcement last week Friday caught Mercedes unprepared with the team is now in the hunt for a replacement driver.
Although Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso have been ruled out of the running while Red Bull have made it clear that their drivers are on “long-term” contracts.
As such Mercedes may have to look further down the grid for a new team-mate for Hamilton.
However, Ferrari chief executive Sergio Marchionne doesn’t believe Rosberg’s exit will weaken Mercedes in any way.
He told Motorsport.com: “I sent a message over to Toto, I was flying when the news came out, and I was surprised in a sense.
“I actually complimented Rosberg for having had the courage for what he did.
“I think timing in life is everything. He’s exiting the F1 season as a champion. He can’t get better than that.
“I think Nico had reached an age where he’d invested a long part of his life to racing. And coming out as a champion is a culmination of his expectations.
“I compliment him for making his choice, and I’m not sure where that leaves Mercedes for 2017.
“I do not expect a weaker Mercedes at all.
“Let’s not forget that they still have Lewis Hamilton on board, and I’m sure they’ll choose a driver of equal potential calibre as they’ve had in the past.”