Could 2016 F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg spearhead the Mercedes team when it enters the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in 2019?
It is a nice idea and a good headline, but is there much substance behind the predictions and desires to have the second-generation F1 champion go all-electric?
Admittedly, the evidence is hardly bulletproof just now.
Rosberg has been in the paddock at December’s Hong Kong E-Prix and he did visit the Formula E headquarters in July 2017.
Indeed, he is an ambassador for Formula E partner Hugo Boss, but do the rumors fit as precisely as one of the German’s sharp suits?
Even down to the rather more tenuous facts, such as his close friendship with Maro Engel, whose Venturi Formula E team has recently partnered with HWA, there are some building blocks that allow us to at least visualize an electric future for him.
Many people in the Formula E paddock believe Rosberg’s next racing venture will be in the series, with some expecting the 2016 Formula 1 champion to take up a position as early as this fall.
If the Mercedes stalwart is offered such a position in racing’s brave new electric world then he would be in good company.
While Alain Prost’s role in the Renault e.dams entry is likely to diminish as Nissan takes the reins of the program, Allan McNish appears to be a natural team principal at Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler after his rather challenging start to the role so far this season.
Prost is that rare case of a world champion taking a sabbatical before heading back to Formula 1 successfully.
Before him, Alan Jones took 18 months off before returning for an ill-fated cameo with Arrows in 1983.
Later years saw both Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen come back with varying degrees of success, but it is difficult to imagine Rosberg considering a return to F1 as a driver no matter what the offer might be.
A progressive, hungry and still ambitious Rosberg would also surely relish the intra-manufacturer competition and the opportunity to pioneer Mercedes’ new all-electric race program.
It was Rosberg after all who impressed many of the Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrain engineers with his understanding and development of the myriad iterations of hybrid systems since he first worked for the team in 2010.
The technical aspects of his sport’s craft have always fascinated him and in Formula E the scope for technical ingenuity is at least half the battle.
The German would join a championship on the up, and one which seems to have a solid roadmap for the future, both technically and commercially, even if it faces numerous challenges in the coming years.
Relevance is key in sport now and the days of teams and commercial partners going racing for fun are over.
Millions of electric cars will be sold in the next two decades and Formula E will be one of the key marketing arms of ensuring the brave new EV world is understood and consumed.
To have someone of Rosberg’s stature involved at the sharp end would be extremely attractive.
The more you imagine it, the more it seems that everyone would be a winner, in and around Formula E.
Rosberg would be welcomed with open arms by the promoters, the fans and the media.
There would be none of the same intense clamor for his time as he had in F1, and which by all accounts contributed to his retirement from it.
Additionally, he would surely enjoy it. Going up against fellow German behemoths Audi, BMW and Porsche, for one of the world’s most recognised sportsmen, on whatever side of the pit wall, would be a once-in-a-career opportunity.