Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has criticized Nico Rosberg’s decision not to inform his team of his retirement sooner than he did because it has left Mercedes to look “stupid” as it desperately searches for a replacement driver.
Rosberg admitted he had first considered retiring at the Japanese Grand Prix in early-October, but only made a final decision on the Monday after winning the championship in Abu Dhabi GP. The German informed his team on Tuesday and it was announced publically on Thursday.
Lauda believes Rosberg should have told the team his intentions, allowing for them to plan a replacement, even if he eventually continued racing in Formula 1.
“Nico signed a two-year contract with us in August. Contracts are basically there to keep them [from leaving],” the three-time champion told Germany’s Die Welt.
“What bothers me with all my experience and understanding is that Nico now tells us that if he had not become the world champion, he would have continued racing. This warning that his goal was to become world champion just once means Nico could have at least hinted that he would quit.
“Then at least in this case, we could have something – a plan B – to be prepared for such a scenario.”
Lauda said Rosberg’s decision has “ripped a giant hole” in the team and given them very little time to find a suitable replacement, considering almost the entire grid is tied up in existing contracts.
“We have given him every opportunity to become world champion with a supercar. And then he gave us his resignation. Overnight, quite surprisingly. That decision has ripped a giant hole in this excellent team. We’re now left looking stupid.”