Mercedes will not confirm Rosberg replacement until early 2017

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Mercedes has confirmed it will not announce Nico Rosberg's replacement until early 2017.

Five days after winning his first world title, Rosberg stunned Mercedes and the racing world by announcing his retirement from the sport. The team has confirmed it will consider "all options" but the list of candidates narrowed this week when Fernando Alonso reaffirmed his commitment to McLaren.

Valtteri Bottas appears to be favourite for the seat after reports Mercedes approached Williams about releasing the Finn from his contract. Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein, who drove for Manor in 2016, has also been touted as a potential replacement as he is yet to secure a seat for 2017.

Though Mercedes initially stated it wanted to announce his replacement before Christmas a spokesman said on Thursday there will be no announcement before January 3, when the team returns to work at the factory. No exact date was given for the announcement.

The delay will give Mercedes valuable time to talk to drivers and suggests Wehrlein is not the front-runner for the seat as he is already under contract at the team and would not require lengthy negotiations to switch teams.