VIENNA, Austria — In a stunning revelation prior to Friday’s FIA banquet in Austria, Nico Rosberg announced his retirement from Formula One racing just five days after securing his first World Championship.
Rosberg won this year’s F1 crown with Mercedes AMG Petronas and signed a new contract to continue with the team earlier this spring, but said in a statement on social media that the realization of his childhood dream led to the decision.
“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,” Rosberg said. “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 scored a career-best nine victories this season, capturing the title by five points over Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who won the final four races of the year but couldn’t catch Rosberg down the home stretch.
The 31-year-old lost the championship to Hamilton in each of the previous two seasons, but rallied this year to avenge those defeats despite a summer stretch where he lost the points lead to Hamilton following the Hungarian Grand Prix and was 19 points in arrears at the end of July.
“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 fueled my motivation to levels I had never experienced before,” Rosberg said. “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.”
Rosberg explained that the decision was made on Monday night, the day after he secured the championship title.
“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 savor 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.”