Jack Leslie  |    |   0  |  6 December 2016

Mercedes 'has to consider' Fernando Alonso for vacant seat - Toto Wolff

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says the team “has to” consider Fernando Alonso to replace the retiring Nico Rosberg for the 2017 Formula 1 season.

Wolff previously admitted the Brackley-based outfit will take its time over the decision, following Rosberg’s surprise announcement on Friday.

A number of drivers have been linked to the second Mercedes seat alongside Lewis Hamilton, including two-time F1 champion and current McLaren racer Alonso.

Despite McLaren’s executive director Zac Brown being adamant Alonso – who is under contract for 2017 - will stay, Wolff said Mercedes can’t rule him out.

“You have to consider Fernando,” Wolff explained to Sky Sports. “He is a driver I respect a lot. He combines talent, speed and experience – it's all there.

“But he is in a contract with McLaren-Honda, and we just need to weigh all the other options up.”

Commenting on whether there will be a clear ‘number one’ driver in the team, he added: “We will maintain the system like we had," he went on to comment.

“We will always have equal status for both of the drivers, give them equal opportunity to the best of our abilities – I say that meaning Abu Dhabi. We owe it to the fans, and to ourselves.

“You can't have a pecking order from the beginning. It's not what we'd like to see.”

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