It was just the other day in
Abu Dhabi that Nico Rosberg was crowned the FIA Formula One champion for the
year 2016, his maiden title after more than 200 races in F1. But then in an emotional
address prior to the 2016 FIA Prize Giving in Vienna, Austria, Nico announcement
his retirement from Formula One and revealed the reasons behind his decision.
Nico has competed in a total
of 206 Grands Prix and won 23 of them, placing him joint 12th on the all-time
list alongside Nelson Piquet. He has scored 30 pole positions (8th all time)
and 20 fastest laps. On November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, he became the first
German driver to win a Formula One World Championship at the wheel of a
Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow.
“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
“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…”
Head of Mercedes-Benz
Motorsport Toto Wolff admitted that “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 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 he 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 our future.”
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