Drivers lining up to take Rosberg's seat

Nico Rosberg  talks to Niki Lauda.
Nico Rosberg talks to Niki Lauda. DIEGO AZUBEL

MOTORSPORT: Powerhouse manufacturer Mercedes says it has been approached by half the Formula one field - "maybe more" - after Nic Rosberg's shock retirement.

Going out on top, the German announced he was calling it quits less than a week after securing his maiden drivers' championship.

Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauder said he was "constantly taking calls" with drivers interested in filling the now vacant seat.

"Practically half of Formula One and maybe more," he told Italian media outlet Gazzetta dello Sport.

Lauder, however, is still coming to terms with the 31-year-old's decision that shocked not only him, but the world.

"I took it badly. I was not expecting it. Nobody in Mercedes imagined he could say 'enough'. At first I didn't believe him," he said.

"'Nico,' I told him. "Are you pulling my leg? Is it a joke?' But he, seriously, said it was all true. Truly incredible."

Mercedes' German reserve driver, Pascal Wehrlein, the 22-year-old who raced for Manor this year, will be one of the frontrunners to fill the vacancy.

Lauda, however, said: "Hiring a youngster is a risk and we don't know how strong he would be."

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