Nico Rosberg has announced that he is to retire from F1 racing on the day he will collect the trophy for winning the 2016 driver’s world championship.
The 31-year-old German won his first world title on Sunday, beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by finishing second in the final race in Abu Dhabi. Rosberg won nine of this season’s 21 grands prix, beating three-time champion Hamilton by five points.
The turbulent season between Hamilton and Rosberg saw both of them crash at the Spanish GP and also made contact at the Austrian GP.
Since starting his F1 career back in 2006, Rosberg has raced with Williams and Mercedes contesting in 206 grands prix winning 23 and finishing on the podium 57 times.
Rosberg’s statement in full
“Since 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my ‘one thing’ to become Formula One World Champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target. And now I’ve made it. I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right. My strongest emotion right now is deep gratitude to everybody who supported me to make that dream happen.
“When I won the race in Suzuka, from the moment when the destiny of the title was in my own hands, the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became World Champion. On Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, I knew that it could be my last race and that feeling cleared my head before the start. I wanted to enjoy every part of the experience, knowing it might be the last time… and then the lights went out and I had the most intense 55 laps of my life. I took my decision on Monday evening. After reflecting for a day, the first people I told were Vivian and Georg (Nolte, from Nico’s management team), followed by Toto.
“The only thing that makes this decision in any way difficult for me is because I am putting my racing family into a tough situation. But Toto understood. He knew straight away that I was completely convinced and that reassured me. My proudest achievement in racing will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people,the Silver Arrows.
“Now, I’m just here to enjoy the moment. There is time to savour the next weeks, to reflect on the season and to enjoy every experience that comes my way. After that, I will turn the next corner in my life and see what it has in store for me…”
F1 in shock
Rosberg’s announcement has sent shock waves throughout the F1 paddock including fans and pundits. Driver’s and fans have poured in support for the new world champion as he exits the sport joining Alain Prost, Sir Jackie Stewart and Nigel Mansell in leaving the sport when they won the title.
Sky’s F1, Martin Brundle said: “I find it absolutely extraordinary, a big surprise,” said Brundle. “I don’t know what’s tormented him that much to want to call it a day right now. It’s obviously a personal decision and it’s bad for Formula 1 because we haven’t got a world champion through the winter and next season. “It’s also bad for Mercedes-Benz, they can’t roll out their world champion. Quite clearly now he’s ticked the biggest box of all as a racing driver, a world champion, and he’s called it quits.”
What do Mercedes do?
Last Sunday, Mercedes were celebrating Nico Rosberg becoming World Champion for the first time. Now they are trying to find a replacement in light of Rosberg’s shock retirement. As Mercedes are probably one of the best teams in the sport at the moment, the level of calls they must be getting from other drivers will be high.
In contention for the second seat at Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton is Pascal Wehrlein. Wehrlein, raced for Manor this year and scoring their only point for the season. He is also part of the “Young Driver” program at Mercedes and he has also done a lot of testing for the Silver Arrows throughout his career.
McLaren Honda driver and 2 time world champion, Fernando Alonso and Williams driver, Valterri Bottas are also rumoured to be linked to the seat.
The 2016 Season may be over and the Champion may be crowned, but the shock of the year will change the face of F1 for 2017!