Rosberg for Ferrari? Mercedes boss Wolff starts silly season early

Updated: 

Nico Rosberg may have sailed off into the sunset as Formula One champion, but his former boss at Mercedes Toto Wolff expects the German to return to the sport, and says it could even be with rivals Ferrari.

Rosberg stunned F1 when stepping away from the sport shortly after winning his first world title at the end of a tempestuous 2016 title fight with team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas was drafted in as a short-notice replacement at the Silver Arrows. The Finn has had an up-and-down season so far, but picked up a first race win in Russia.

Bottas' seat could be on offer next summer when the driver's market is expected to be busy, with Fernando Alonso likely to leave McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen not yet assured of his Ferrari seat - something Wolff playfully hinted could tempt Rosberg back to the paddock.

"I think when he took the decision to retire it was because it was just too much," said Wolff.

"It was a very stressful year against probably the best driver in F1 and he felt, at that stage, exhausted. That is how he appeared to me.

"But he is 31 years old. If he is unlucky, he has another 70 years to go in his life!

"I will give you one [quote]: I wouldn't be surprised if he changes his mind in a year and reappears in a Ferrari! Or somewhere else."