In his Christmas message to team staff Toto Wolff, the Mercedes boss, told them to rest and prepare for the ‘bigger challenges’ ahead.

While Mercedes had a highly successful season, winning their third successive championship double, they were immediately shocked and thrown into chaos by the retirement of world champion Nico Rosberg.

The team is now also preparing for the departure of Paddy Lowe, the technical chief, who is widely expected to join Williams in the forthcoming season.

In his message Wolff said that the team has been “tested at each turn by unexpected challenges” over the last year but that they came out of it “stronger and more capable to face the road ahead”.

2016 was a record breaking year for the team and Wolff said that their success and the attention it attracts “puts every decision taken and every word spoken under an intense microscope. But there has been enough talking now. This is the period for calm and considered reflection.”

It is expected that the team will face some formidable challenges in 2017 when the sport undergoes a ‘rules refresh’ and Wolff concluded his message with a rallying cry to members of the team.

He said that they “will tackle new rules, welcome a new race driver and take on even stronger rivals” which he says will “test our team’s character, strength and capability. Bring it on!”
Mercedes has said that they will not be naming Rosberg’s successor until after the New Year but it is widely thought that they are determined to sign Valtteri Bottas from Williams and that negotiations are underway.

The new season gets underway at the end of March next year with the first race taking place in Australia.