Tuesday 10 January at 07:35 :
Jan.10 (GMM) Mercedes should have been braver and signed MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi for 2017.
That is the view of former F1 driver Alex Zanardi, amid news the German team will almost certainly sign up Williams' Valtteri Bottas instead.
"For me, Valentino was the most logical choice," Zanardi, a former Williams driver, told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Mercedes has had to engineer a complex deal to get Bottas out of his 2017 Williams contract, involving Felipe Massa calling off his retirement and perhaps even fast-forwarding Paddy Lowe's move to Williams.
But Zanardi thinks Rossi, the 37-year-old flamboyant motorcycle racing star, would have been a more exciting choice to replace retiring world champion Nico Rosberg.
"I think it would have been perfect," he said. "His arrival in formula one would have boosted the audience a lot.
"Can you imagine the media impact that a single victory by Valentino at the wheel of a Mercedes would have had?" Zanardi, now a 50-year-old Paralympic hand-cycling champion, added.
But with Bottas set to be confirmed instead, Zanardi thinks Mercedes will again be strong in 2017 anyway.
He dismissed Ferrari's chances of a big improvement.
"I honestly do not think there will be a great improvement," said Zanardi. "I expect to see (Lewis) Hamilton win."