Fernando Alonso should have been Mercedes' first choice to partner Lewis Hamilton, according to world champion Nico Rosberg. Valtteri Bottas has joined the Silver Arrows from the 2017 season after the German announced his retirement upon winning the drivers' championship last year.
The decision sparked frenzied speculation regarding his replacement for the new campaign, with Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and rookie Pascal Wehrlein all linked with filling the vacant seat. But the reigning constructors' champions lured Bottas from Williams, despite the Fin having never won a race in Formula One.
Rosberg will remain with Mercedes as an ambassador, attending several races this term in an effort to promote his former team, and has naturally kept quiet over his preference to work alongside Hamilton. But the 31-year-old has now broken his silence and says Ferrari's Alonso would have received his vote.
"OK, because I'm now a fan, and on that side of the fence, it's very easy to respond," he told Marca. "Everyone says Alonso and I say it too, because there would be fireworks with Hamilton. As a fan, it would be nice, but for the team, it wouldn't work. They've found a great solution. Bottas is fast and though Hamilton will be at a very, very high level and it will be difficult to beat him, I have proved that he can."
A move to Mercedes would have reunited Hamilton and Alonso after their spell together at McLaren. Their partnership was among the most tempestuous in recent F1 history with the pair failing to gel, eventually leading to Alonso falling out with boss Ron Dennis and his exit from the team in 2008.
Hamilton and Rosberg also suffered problems on and off the track, colliding on several occasions including three times in the space of five races during the 2016 campaign. But Rosberg says he never felt disrespected at Mercedes, despite his team-mate's status as the three-time world champion.
"No, no, I have always been treated very well on the team, but it was complicated," he added. "When Hamilton arrived I had been in the team for three years, but he came as a world champion and so it was normal for people to pay more respect to him than me, and listen more to what he said. They were difficult moments to begin with, but I also got respect in the end."