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New F1 world champion Nico Rosberg announces shock retirement

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New F1 world champion Nico Rosberg announces shock retirement
Dec 2, 2016, 1:47 PM

Nico Rosberg has announced that he will retire from racing in Formula 1 just five days after he won the 2016 world championship in Abu Dhabi.

Nico Rosberg has announced that he will retire from racing in Formula 1 just five days after he won the 2016 world championship in Abu Dhabi.

The German driver clinched his first world title after a tense final race where his Mercedes teammate and rival Lewis Hamilton attempted to back Rosberg into Ferrari and Red Bull racers. He announced his decision to retire ahead of Friday's FIA Prize Giving Gala in Vienna.

In a post on his official Facebook page, Rosberg explained that he had decided to retire after achieving his life’s dream.

Nico Rosberg Lewis Hamilton

Nico Rosberg 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.

“This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough. 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. And of course that had an impact on the ones I love, too – it was a whole family effort of sacrifice, putting everything behind our target. I cannot find enough words to thank my wife Vivian; she has been incredible. She understood that this year was the big one, our opportunity to do it, and created the space for me to get full recovery between every race, looking after our daughter each night, taking over when things got tough and putting our championship first.

“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…”

Rosberg completed 206 Grands Prix and scored 23 race wins, which puts him joint 12th on the all-time list. He recorded 30 pole positions, 20 fastest laps, 57 podiums, and 1594.5 points.

Nico Rosberg

James Allen’s view:

I really admire Nico for taking the situation into his own hands and leaving the sport on his terms and at the very top. Everybody knew that this was likely to be his one chance to win a title and he took it by doing the things he needed to do when they needed doing.

This goes for having to pass Max Verstappen in a high risk move in Abu Dhabi to clinch the title, through to the most perfunctory second place to ensure the scoreboard kept ticking over.

It takes a brave man to walk away from what would have been a likely €45m of income over the next three years, but it shows that money was not everything or even the main thing. I know from conversations I've had with Nico this year about his effort behind the scenes to manage things like sleep patterns, nutrition, mental training and so on. It took an awful lot out of him this year and I think he is being realistic in admitting he'd struggle to match those levels again, which is what he needs to do in order to perform against Hamilton.

Rosberg is only 31 and still has the majority of his life in front of him to enjoy with his family and he can reflect on being an F1 world champion, something no one can take away from him.

Lewis Hamilton

From a sporting point of view, it leaves Mercedes in a slightly dicey position; whilst I would put reasonable money on Hamilton to regain the world championship in 2017 it would be difficult for Mercedes to achieve its goal of winning constructors’ titles back-to-back across a major regulation change with the likes of Pascal Werhlein in the second car.

But then again, what is the point of having a junior programme if you don't promote your junior drivers? The problem is that neither Wehrlein or Esteban Ocon look ready to step up to that level yet.

If Fernando Alonso has the opportunity to trigger any kind of performance clause in his contract, I suspect he will be ringing Toto Wolff’s phone off the hook.

Fernando Alonso

In more general terms, Wolff will be concerned because no one really knows how long Hamilton will stick around for and if he were to ‘pull a Rosberg’, it would leave Mercedes in a vulnerable position.

It also means that whatever disagreements and sanctions may have taken place behind the scenes after Hamilton disobeyed the highest category of team instructions in Abu Dhabi, all the power now rests with him, and that will make Wolff uncomfortable.

Mercedes’ reaction and Wolff’s eventual decision on Rosberg’s replacement will tell us much about how he views Hamilton. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks.

Which of these possible contenders will Mercedes replace Rosberg with for 2017?

What do you make of the news that Nico Rosberg will retire from F1? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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