Usually, Winter is a boring time in Formula One. With no on-track action, we're left to speculate the upcoming season and wonder who'll get off the mark quickest, and weird and wacky rumours start to spread.
This time around, the break has been much more interesting following Nico Rosberg's shock retirement and the wait to see who will replace the world champion at Mercedes. Alongside that, the new regulations coming into force in 2017 means we have slightly more to talk about than usual, with a variety of unknowns waiting to be answered: will Mercedes dominate once again next year? Will Ferrari pose a challenge or will they fizzle out again? Are both Renault and McLaren about to stage an unlikely surge up the field? These answers won't be known until next March, but for the time-being we're free to speculate.
Nico Rosberg's vacant seat is the major talking point so far this month. Valteri Bottas is the latest to be heavily linked with a move to Mercedes, however Williams are holding stern and are resisting any deal with their engine supplier. Bottas would bring discipline and a calm head to Mercedes next season and is an ideal replacement to help smooth the transition to the new regulations next year.
Paddy Lowe, one of the senior figures at Mercedes, is destined to leave too this winter and has been linked to Williams and Ferrari. It's unlikely that Lowe would leave these shores, so it seems like a move to Williams is the most likely. His departure adds to the uncertainty surrounding Mercedes; with Lewis Hamilton's, Toto Wolff's and Niki Lauda's contracts are all up in 2018, and there are suggestions that the German outfit might walk away from the sport completely. Such a move would be drastic, but what better way to leave the sport as a constructor than as an unbeatable champion? Just ask Nico Rosberg.