World Champion Nico Rosberg's retirement was the most shocking thing to happen to F1 in 2016, setting off a flurry of rumors about who would become his successor. At various points, Fernando Alonso, Valtteri Botas, Pascal Wehrlein, Sebastien Vettel, and , Max Verstappen have been rumored to take Rosbergs seat. Mercedes now says it won't announce its new driver until next year, so the speculation will continue unimpeded.
That's the word , which received a statement from Mercedes saying that a new driver won't be announced until at least January 3rd.
"There will be no announcements from us until next year and nothing is planned for the period between now and our return to work on January 3rd," the statement reads.
Nico Rosberg's retirement threw the Mercedes F1 for a loop as his team had no idea he would leave, though teammate Lewis Hamilton claims he wasn't surprised by the decision. Mercedes could sign reserve Pascal Wehrlein, who drove for Manor in 2016, immediately, but the team seems to want someone more experienced.
Valteri Bottas seems to be Mercedes F1's favorite to replace Rosberg, but Williams would like to hang on to him, especially following Felipe Massa's retirement this year. According to , Mercedes offered a discounted engine bill and Pascal Wehrlein in exchange for releasing Bottas from his contract.
Until next year, though, F1 fans can continue their rampant speculation. Who knows? Maybe crash-prone Pastor Maldonado will drive alongside Hamilton in 2017. (He won't.)