Nico Rosberg retired just days after winning the 2016 Drivers’ World Championship – his first – beating Lewis Hamilton by just five points.
The pair spent four years as team-mates at Mercedes and won three Constructors’ Championships but the German team now have the unenviable task of replacing the world champion.
Toto Wolff admitted this week that there are multiple options available to him including McLaren driver Fernando Alonso but Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein, 22, is the current favourite.
And the Mercedes engineering chief Aldo Costa told Italian magazine Autosprint that either Wehrlein or fellow Mercedes young driver programme member Esteban Ocon would be more than capable of filling Rosberg’s seat.
"Clearly the opportunity has come a bit too early, but we believe that our young drivers have great potential.
"Pascal is the one with a little more experience, he has been developing the tyres with Pirelli for next year and could be one of the best choices.”
But Costa also hinted that a decision had still not been made by Mercedes.