Nico Rosberg believes Fernando Alonso will be among 2017's top F1 drivers
Rosberg retired at the end of the 2016 season, just five days after beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the F1 World Drivers’ Championship.
But the German, who raced more than 200 times in his 10 years in F1, will remain involved with the sport in an ambassadorial role for Mercedes.
And in his assessment of the 2017 grid, he picked out two-time world champion Fernando Alonso as a driver he believes is due a resurgence after four years without a race win.
F1 2017 driver line-up
Mon, February 13, 2017
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Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton (44)
"Fernando will be on the podium this year or very close to it,” Rosberg told Spanish outlet Diario Sport
“[Alonso] has a great chance but we will have to wait, because the same thing can happen with other drivers and teams too.
"But I do think McLaren will significantly improve its performance.
“I don't expect them to dominate, but they have a new opportunity and they will definitely take advantage of it."
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Regulation changes over the off-season are expected to produce vastly different cars with wider tyres and bigger profiles as the racing authorities attempt to encourage overtaking.
But Rosberg has seen it all before and expects Mercedes to take it in their stride, although not without a fight.
Fernando Alonso has not won in F1 since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg drove his Mercedes to world title glory in 2016
"I don't think [the Mercedes dominance] going to change," Rosberg added.
"It's a great team that works like an oiled machine.
"Maybe Ferrari will improve but I don't see them leading the championship.
“I think the main challenge will come from Red Bull, because the combination of [Red Bull chief technical officer] Adrian Newey and new regulations has always worked extraordinarily well over the last 20 years or so.”