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Rosberg: Mercedes should consider Vettel for 2018 F1 seat

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Nico Rosberg believes that Mercedes should consider signing Sebastian Vettel to its Formula 1 team for the 2018 season once the German’s contract with Ferrari is up.

Vettel won four world championships with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, but is yet to find the same kind of form with Ferrari, having won just three races since joining in 2015.

Vettel enters the final year of his contract with the Scuderia in 2017, and is set to be part of the ‘silly season’ speculation surrounding the driver market through the coming year.

Rosberg walked away from F1 after winning the world championship with Mercedes for the first time last year, making way for Valtteri Bottas to join the team from Williams.

Bottas is on an initial one-year contract, with his seat set to come under scrutiny once again this year given the available drivers elsewhere.

Speaking at the Laureus World Sports Awards, Rosberg said that he thinks Mercedes should consider signing Vettel for 2018 should he become available.

“It would definitely make sense for Sebastian to have a look at that Mercedes seat for 2018 and for Mercedes to have a look at him and to consider him,” Rosberg said.

“For 2018, that’s obvious. He’s one of the best drivers out there and he doesn’t have a contract for 2018, so they should explore the possibility and who knows, let’s see what happens. It could be a good thing.”

Besides Vettel, the other big-name driver out of contract for 2018 is McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, with the Spaniard also entering the final year of his deal.

Rosberg previously said that Alonso was never a consideration for his seat for 2017 due to the “fireworks” it would cause with Lewis Hamilton, but thinks he should be kept in mind for next year.

“Of course, Alonso, they need to keep him in mind even though he’s not the youngest out there anymore,” Alonso said.

“He’s still driving at his best, I think, it looks like from what we have seen, so he should be considered as well and I’m sure he will.”

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.