Nico Rosberg, Formula One world champion, announces shock retirement

Just-crowned world champion Nico Rosberg announced his retirement from Formula One in a Facebook post on Friday, a stunning development less than a week after his landmark moment in Abu Dhabi.
Nico Rosberg celebrates on the podium after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last Sunday. Christopher Pike / The National / November 29, 2016
Nico Rosberg celebrates on the podium after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last Sunday. Christopher Pike / The National / November 29, 2016

In a stunning development, just-crowned Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg announced on Friday he is retiring from the sport.

Mercedes’ Rosberg, who clinched his first world championship here in the UAE last Sunday at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, posted on his Facebook at 5.14pm UAE time that, “I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right.”

Rosberg, whose father Keke was world champion in 1982, also said: “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.”

The 31-year-old German appeared visibly drained after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and spoke repeatedly of the emotional toll of the title fight and, in particular, Sunday’s anxiety-riddled race. He noted multiple times how “intense” the 2016 season finale had been, revealing how exhausted he really was.

“It was definitely not the most enjoyable race I’ve ever had,” Rosberg said. “So intense. I have never felt anything like that in the car.”

And of his skilful overtaking of Max Verstappen that effectively sealed second place in Abu Dhabi, and with it the championship, Rosberg said it was “very relieving, and so intense, unbelievably intense, never felt something like that”.

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• Graham Caygill: Nico Rosberg has earned his success

In his statement, Rosberg said clinching a long-sought world title sealed his retirement choice: “I took my decision on Monday evening. After reflecting for a day, the first people I told were Vivian and Georg (Nolte), followed by Toto.”

The National’s Graham Caygill asked Rosberg at the post-Abu Dhabi GP press conference about how he finished the 2015 season on a strong run, and the German hinted at the weight the push for Formula One championship glory has been on him as he has battled with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in recent years:

“Austin [the 2015 US Grand Prix, where Hamilton won the title] was a really horrible experience for me,” Rosberg said. “I spent two days just on my own just thinking, and I said ‘I don’t want to experience that again’.

“Then I went and won the next seven races on the trot, so for sure it was a big moment and one of the key moments for me being here today.”

In his statement, Rosberg said he could now “just enjoy the moment” and that there would be “time to savour” before he would “turn the next corner in my life and see what it has in store for me...”

“This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough,” Rosberg also said in the statement. “I pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last two years; they fuelled my motivation to levels I had never experienced before.

“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.”

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Published: December 2, 2016 04:00 AM

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