New Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg shocked the paddock on Friday by announcing his immediate retirement from the sport.
Less than a week after clinching the title in the final race of the season Rosberg confirmed that he will not race in 2017. In a statement released by the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team the German said:
I want to take the opportunity to announce that I have decided to end my Formula 1 career in this moment here, It’s hard to explain, it has been ever since I started when I was six years old, I had a very clear dream and that was to become Formula 1 world champion.
“Now I’ve achieved that, I’ve put everything into it for 25 years of racing and with the help of everybody around me, with the help of fans and the help of my team and my family and friends I have managed to achieve that this year.
“So it has been an incredible experience for me that I will remember forever.
“At the same time, it has been very very tough also because the last two years losing to Lewis were extremely difficult moments for me, which fuelled my motivation in a way that I didn’t even know was possible to fight back and to achieve my dream finally.
Rosberg began his Formula One career with the Williams F1 Team in 2006 before moving to the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team in 2010 joining Michael Schumacher who had come out of retirement.
Lewis Hamilton joined the team ahead of the 2013 Formula One season with his former karting team mate Nico Rosberg as his team mate. Hamilton and Rosberg were involved in tough battles on track over the next three seasons with the pair challenging each other for the championship in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
In 2014 and 2015 it was Hamilton who was crowned champion, however this season, Rosberg had the edge winning nine races on his way to winning the championship.
Head of Mercedes Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff commented by saying:
This is a brave decision by Nico and testament to the strength of his character. He has chosen to leave at the pinnacle of his career, as world champion, having achieved his childhood dream. The clarity of his judgement meant I accepted his decision straight away when he told me.
It’s impossible to capture the essence of a person in a few short words. But Nico has a special combination of natural talent and fighting spirit that have brought him to where he is today. Throughout his career, people have thought that he was on a golden path to success just because his father was a world champion; in fact, I think in some ways that made the challenge greater – and meant he had to fight even harder with the weight of expectation on his shoulders.
With Mercedes, Nico has been a relentless competitor, bouncing back from tough times in an inspirational way, and earned the respect of the sport with his tenacity, his fighting spirit and his grace under pressure. Since 2010, he has poured competitive energy into our team and we have grown stronger because of it. We simply say ‘thank you’ for the incredible contribution he has made to our success, alongside two of the all-time great drivers, Michael and Lewis.
For the team, this is an unexpected situation but also an exciting one. We are going into a new era of technical regulations and there is a free Mercedes cockpit for the seasons ahead. We will take the necessary time to evaluate our options and then find the right path for the future.
Rosberg is the third driver to retire from Formula One with Jenson Button and Felipe Massa also confirming their retirements from the sport.