Montreal – Former Formula 1 driver Gerhard Berger says the ball is in Mercedes’ court over Nico Rosberg’s negotiations for a contract beyond 2016.
There have been reports the talks have hit a snag because while Rosberg wants a multi-year deal, Mercedes is only offering him a contract for 2017 only in order to leave the door open for Pascal Wehrlein’s debut the year after.
Rosberg will start in second position for the Canadian Grand Prix after teammate Hamilton pipped the German during qualifying on Saturday (June 11).
Both parties close to an agreement
Berger, who is conducting Rosberg’s negotiations on his behalf, told the German broadcaster Sky: “Everything is going according to plan.
“Both sides have the same goal, to see Nico at Mercedes for many years. There are only a few points on which we need to come to an agreement.”
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) June 11, 2016
Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda agrees that, amid the current talks, he is optimistic.
Lauda said: “I can reassure everyone, the negotiations are going very well. In a relatively short period of time, everything will be done.”
It is rumoured that, with Rosberg wanting three years but Mercedes only offering one, a two-year compromise contract is now being discussed.
Berger confirmed to Germany’s Auto Bild: “The ball is now in Mercedes’ court.”
Berger wary of Hamilton’s lifestyle
The former Ferrari and McLaren driver suggested that Mercedes would be wise to stick with Rosberg, given the less stable lifestyle enjoyed by the team’s other driver, Lewis Hamilton.
Berger told Bild am Sonntag newspaper: “When you hear how many times he (Hamilton) jets between America and Europe between races, and think of the effort and energy that 1000 people put into a race weekend, it is important that they have the perfect balance in the team.
“In Rosberg, they have an equally good driver from the sporting point of view and also highly reliable.”
Ferrari need another top driver
There have been rumours that, should the parties not agree, Rosberg is open to speaking with Ferrari.
Berger admits that Ferrari needs another top driver alongside Sebastian Vettel.
Berger said: “Both Red Bull and Ferrari have come to understand that you need to drivers of the calibre of Hamilton and Rosberg to be constructors’ champion.
“That’s why Red Bull has put Verstappen in there so quickly, so Ferrari must react quickly. And they will.”
But would the very Italian Ferrari really pair two Germans together in 2017? Berger responded by saying: “Bernie Ecclestone would say that Nico is from Monaco.”