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Won and Done: Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg Retires

Going out on top

Going out on top

Less than a week after he clinched the 2016 Formula 1 World Driver’s Championship in Abu Dhabi, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has stunned fans by announcing his retirement from racing, effective immediately. Rosberg, 31, said he made the decision to quit the Monday after the race, telling his wife, Vivian, and manager Georg Nolte before informing Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff.

“It has been my dream, my ‘one thing’ to become Formula 1 World Champion,” Rosberg said. “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.”

Rosberg, son of 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg, has driven for the Mercedes F1 team since its inception in 2010, winning 23 races and earning 30 pole positions. However he was frequently outperformed on the track by teammate Lewis Hamilton, who joined the Mercedes team in 2013 having won the 2008 driver’s championship at McLaren, and went on to win back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015.

Nico Rosberg wins 2016 Formula 1 Drivers Championship 3

Hamilton was Rosberg’s biggest rival for the 2016 title, which was only decided in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton, who won the race, was criticized for slowing his pace in order to put second-placed Rosberg under threat from the Ferrari of third-placed Sebastian Vettel, and the Red Bull of fourth-placed Max Verstappen. Hamilton needed to win, and have Rosberg finish fourth or lower, to win the driver’s championship. Rosberg called the race “the most intense 55 laps of my life.”

Rosberg said he’s retiring because he’s not prepared to commit to another battle for the championship. “This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough,” he said. “I pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last two years. 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.”

Nico-Rosberg-Mercedes-F1-Shanghai

He said Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff understood his decision. “He knew straight away that I was completely convinced and that reassured me,” Rosberg said. “My proudest achievement in racing will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people, the Silver Arrows.”

Photo source: Mercedes AMG Petronas