Rosberg couldn't have been champion without us - Lauda

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Mercedes F1 non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has said that Nico Rosberg would not have been able to become world champion without the team.

"Nico has improved so much because of the team and the car," Lauda told German publication Sports Bild this week.

"We have won three constructors' titles and Hamilton before won two drivers' world championships," Lauda explained. "With the Silver Arrow, Nico had the car and potential in his hands.

"You have to see it as a combination of Rosberg and Mercedes. Rosberg alone would not be World Champion - it is the car, team and Rosberg together."

Although Rosberg's announcement that he was retiring just five days after clinching the 2016 title, Lauda said that the team wouldn't miss him when the new season gets underway.

"Not at all. When he's gone, he's gone," said Lauda. "We had to come to terms with it and we did. We are now looking to the future and do not mourn Rosberg at all."

The team has since managed to prise Valtteri Bottas away from Williams to take over Rosberg's race seat at Mercedes. While some have suggested the Finn is a 'stop-gap' in lieu of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso becoming available in 2018, Lauda believes that might be unnecessary and insists that their new signing could prove every bit as good as his predecessor - if not better.

"Replacing Rosberg was not easy, but the combination of speed and experience spoke for Bottas," said the three-time world champion. "I believe Bottas is at least as good as Rosberg.

"He now has the opportunity to drive the best Formula One car in the world. This always gives a racing driver a boost and also boosts his own personal performance."

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