Lewis Hamilton will have mixed emotions about Nico Rosberg's retirement but is well placed to capitalise in 2017 at Mercedes whoever his new team-mate is, Renault's Jolyon Palmer has told the F1 Report.
Rosberg's unexpected decision to quit after becoming world champion continues to dominate the F1 headlines and Mercedes are currently weighing up who to sign to partner Hamilton next year.
Speaking on Wednesday night's F1 Report: Season Review show, which airs at 8pm on Sky Sports F1, Renault driver Palmer, the only other Briton currently on the 2017 grid, suspects countryman Hamilton will "be a little bit disappointed" his long-time rival has retired, but reckons the arrival of a new team-mate will play to the 31-year-old's advantage.
"He feels hard done by this year to be beaten by Nico anyway, he'd have loved revenge next year," added Palmer.
"That's disappointing for Lewis, but at the same time he'll be in a stronger position next year because no doubt Nico was a tough competitor for him and anyone else - they could still get a champion driver like Alonso or Button - they'll be new into Mercedes where Lewis has now been for many years and is driving at the top of his game as well.
"So I think he'll be feeling confident on one hand, but that confidence will mean that he maybe thinks he could have beaten Nico again, which will be slightly frustrating."
On a separate Sky F1 show entitled Nico The Brave, which is first broadcast on Thursday, former world champion Damon Hill suggests "Lewis will go away with a little bit of a sting" after being beaten to the world title by his team-mate this year and not having the chance to fight back in 2017.
Who should Mercedes sign?
Mercedes' search for a replacement for Rosberg began in earnest this week with a host of drivers linked with the plum vacancy, from former world champions such as Fernando Alonso to inexperienced hands like Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon.
Wehrlein, a Mercedes junior, and Williams' Valtteri Bottas are thought to be the front-runners but Force India's Otmar Szafnauer told the F1 Report the Brackley team should consider a more left-field option: Jenson Button, who has entered semi-retirement from F1.
"Maybe Wehrlein or Bottas, but if those two don't fit and you want the driver market to open up then Jenson knows Lewis, he's a former world champion, he has a lot of experience and he's probably available - more available than Alonso," suggested Szafnauer. "Why not?"
Mercedes: Alonso under consideration
Force India's 2017 signing Ocon has also been linked with the seat through the Frenchman's own place on Mercedes' junior programme but Szafnauer said the world champions had not been in contact to discuss any possible change of plan for the youngster.
"Not yet and hopefully they won't," said Szafnauer, with Ocon already beginning his preparations at Force India for 2017.
Race winners out of reach?
But even if Mercedes do not move to promote one of their own young drivers, Sky F1's Ted Kravitz feels the champions are unlikely to land one of the sport's established star names to join triple champion Hamilton.
"The four drivers who would give Hamilton the hardest time, and therefore us as viewers the best entertainment, are probably the four least likely to get the drive - Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo," he said.
"Their teams are not going to let them go."
Don't miss the F1 Report: Season Review with Natalie Pinkham, Ted Kravitz, Jolyon Palmer, Pierre Gasly and Otmar Szafnauer at 8pm on Sky Sports F1 on Wednesday. That's followed on Thursday night by F1 Special: Nico The Brave as Martin Brundle, Damon Hill and Ted join Simon Lazenby to look at Rosberg's shock retirement and discuss who Mercedes should sign in his place
News from: skysports.com