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Berger - Mercedes the first port of call for Rosberg contract talks

28 May 2016

Nico Rosberg's future has become a hot topic in the F1 paddock in recent weeks. His contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the season, and speculation has linked him with a potential drive at Ferrari. So what is the truth? We spoke to the man leading the negotiations - a certain Gerhard Berger - to find out...

Q: Gerhard, it was a true eye-opener when we heard you were representing Nico Rosberg in his negotiations with Mercedes. How did that all come about?

Gerhard Berger: It was pretty simple: I have known Nico since he was a little boy, as I raced against his dad Keke for years. Last week both contacted me to see if I could do them a favour and negotiate Nico's new contract, as he wants to fully concentrate on the championship. I said, 'Of course!' It's kind of a friendly turn.

Q: So none of the usual 15 percent manager fees?

GB: Money doesn't play a paramount role, no. It is just about giving a helping hand.

Q: You always negotiated for yourself back when you were a driver, and are known to be something of a 'rascal'. Is that what is needed in negotiations with Mercedes?

GB: Ha, not this time. I think everybody understands the others' position: Mercedes wants to keep Nico and Nico wants to stay with Mercedes. But, of course, there has to be a firm view in the details - a rigid setting of the scene. To be honest it would really surprise me if we also started to negotiate with another team. But you never know. Clearly Mercedes is the first address for us.

Q: You have good contacts with Ferrari though. Could that become more of a factor if negotiations with Mercedes go awry?

GB: I don't want to think that far ahead as I would find it bit ridiculous... if a drivers is happy in a team, and vice versa, you hammer a new deal at all costs.

Q: But doesn't the saying go that every top driver has to sit in a Ferrari at one point in their career? And Nico could be champion this year - when better to move to the Prancing Horse?

GB: It is probably true from an emotional point of view that Nico would be flattered, but what is paramount in all negotiations and considerations is who can provide the best car on the grid - and that definitely is Mercedes.

Q: Didn't you once opt for Ferrari on an emotional basis?

GB: From an emotional point of view it was the best decision I made - but it was not a decision for the best car at that point in time. When I think back now I still have fantastic memories from my time at Ferrari, so yes, I could understand anybody who wants to make that step for emotional reasons. I also believe that Nico has kind of affection for Ferrari. But again, right now he is with a team that has won the last four titles and offers the best package.

Q: Would you say that Nico has the emotional fortitude to tame a team like Ferrari?

GB: Absolutely!

Q: When do you expect the negotiations - and the speculation - to be over?

GB: Ha! I think the better question is when do the negotiations start. Let's get through Monaco, and then we will sit down.

Q: Has Nico indicated when he wants to see his future settled?

GB: No. What I say is it has to be settled by the first race of 2017!