Sat, Dec 3, 12:01pm by Bren O'Brien
Lewis Hamilton has shortened significantly to win next year’s F1 title after the dramatic retirement of 2016 champ Nico Rosberg.
The motorsport world in still in shock at 31-year-old Rosberg’s decision to quit the sport less than a week after he claimed the title by finishing second in the final race of 2016 at Abu Dhabi.
He is the first world champion to fail to defend his title since Alain Prost on 1994 and his departure is a major blow for Mercedes with off-season testing about to begin.
Bookmakers responded by slashing Hamilton’s odds from $2.63 to $2.25 to regain the title he won in 2014 and 2015.
Max Verstappen shortened from $4 to $3.75 on the news while Australia’s own Daniel Ricciardo remained at $4.50 despite Rosberg’s decision.
Rumours are now rife about who will replace Rosberg in the plum seat at Mercedes, with speculation surrounding Valtteri Bottas seeing his price with Sportsbet to win the world title slashed from $251 to $26.
The current Mercedes reserve driver is Pascal Wehrlein has been left out of Sportsbet markets, but is as short as $6 with Bet 365, given he is contractually in the best place to assume the position.
However, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said he is not going to be rushed into what is a massive decision for the company.
“For the team, this is an unexpected situation but also an exciting one,” Wolff said in a statement.
“We are going into a new era of technical regulations and there is a free Mercedes cockpit for the seasons ahead.”
“We will take the necessary time to evaluate our options and then find the right path for our future.”
“With Mercedes, Nico has been a relentless competitor, bouncing back from his tough times in an inspirational way, and he earned the respect of the sport with his tenacity, his fighting spirit and his grace under pressure.”
There is even a possibility that Mercedes could re-unite Englishmen Hamilton and Jenson Button after Button effectively retired from the sport when McLaren opted to replace him for next year.
Button won a world title with the then Brawn GP in 2009, with the company changing its name to Mercedes the following year, when Button left for McLaren joining Hamilton.
Bet365 has Button at $21 for the 2017.
The other option could see Mercedes approach either Ferrari or McLaren and approach them about buying out the contracts of former world champs Alonso or Vettel.
Formula 1 Drivers Championship 2017 Market
L Hamilton $2.25
M Verstappen $3.75
D Ricciardo $4.50
S Vettel $8.00
F Alonso $11.00
V Bottas $26.00
K Raikkonen $34.00
S Vandoorme $41.00
N Hulkenberg $67.00
C Sainz Jr $101.00
M Ericsson $251.00
L Stroll $251.00
S Perez $251.00
D Kvyat $251.00
J Palmer $251.00
K Magnussen $251.00
R Grosjean $251.00
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