Gerhard Berger believes that Nico Rosberg must remain firm in negotiations with Mercedes over a new contract despite wanting to remain with the team.
Rosberg’s current deal with Mercedes expires at the end of this season, having last signed an extension back in 2014.
Speculation has been rife about the current Formula 1 championship leader’s future in recent weeks, with reports in the Italian press linking him with a possible move to Ferrari.
Over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, it was revealed that Rosberg has brought in ex-F1 driver and team owner Gerhard Berger to help with negotiations.
In an interview with the official F1 website, Berger spoke about his role with Rosberg, revealing that he only came on board earlier this month.
“It was pretty simple: I have known Nico since he was a little boy, as I raced against his dad Keke for years,” Berger explained.
“Last week both contacted me to see if I could do them a favor and negotiate Nico’s new contract, as he wants to fully concentrate on the championship. I said, ‘Of course!’ It’s kind of a friendly turn.”
Berger confirmed that both parties are keen to extend the deal, but said that Rosberg needs to remain firm to ensure he is happy with the agreement.
“I think everybody understands the other’s position: Mercedes wants to keep Nico and Nico wants to stay with Mercedes,” Berger said.
“But, of course, there has to be a firm view in the details – a rigid setting of the scene.
“To be honest it would really surprise me if we also started to negotiate with another team.
“But you never know. Clearly Mercedes is the first address for us.”
Berger admitted that an offer from Ferrari could be attractive to Rosberg, but does not expect him to accept a slower car than the one he is currently in.
“It is probably true from an emotional point of view that Nico would be flattered,” Berger said.
“But what is paramount in all negotiations and considerations is who can provide the best car on the grid – and that definitely is Mercedes.”
Word in the Monaco paddock was that Mercedes had only offered Rosberg a one-year extension that would take him to the end of 2017, while the German driver was keen to get a longer deal signed up.
Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda said earlier this week that he wanted Rosberg to sign a new contract in the next three weeks so that the team could fully focus on its bid for both championships.