Less than a week removed from winning the World Drivers Championship, Nico Rosberg announced his retirement from Formula 1 Friday.
In a post on social media Rosberg announced, “I have a message for you”:
“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 ourchampionship 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…”
The social media post came only hours before the F1 awards ceremony Friday evening in Vienna.
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, said that keeping the news secret had been difficult, but that he admired the 31-year-old’s decision.
“It took me completely by surprise and saw some board members and Niki [Lauda], and they were equally surprised,” Wolff said. “It is something we would never have imagined, but in the same way, it really causes admiration within me.”
“He knows exactly what he is doing, he is in control of his thinking, so from the first moment he told me, he said there is no doubt this is his decision – and that it.”
Wolff said the process of finding a replacement for Rosberg, who is signed through 2018, will begin next week.
“I think first on the agenda was to give Nico the opportunity to tell everybody that he is stopping,” he said. “We didn’t want this to leak so we kept it in a very small circle – and now we have to consider all options, and it will be very hard. We will start to look at this on Monday.
“It will be a very rational structured process. We will stick the heads together – Niki and I have been having discussions already these last two days and then on Monday, we go back to Brackley and sit down with the engineers and hopefully find somebody who can step in those big shoes.”
The son of world champion Keke Rosberg, Nico has been in Formula 1 since 2006, first with the Williams team. In 2009, Rosberg said he was leaving the Williams team at the end of the season. He joined the newly formed Mercedes team to pair with F1 legend Michael Schumacher.
After a few rough seasons the Mercedes AMG Formula 1 team finally achieved success in the Turbo V6 era starting in 2014. The team won the drivers and constructors titles in three consecutive seasons: 2014, 2015 and 2016.
After two losses of the drivers title to his team mate Lewis Hamilton in 2014 and 2015, Rosberg finally won the title in a tense race in Abu-Dhabi in last Sunday. The feat made him the driver with the most GP starts before winning a world title.
Rosberg leaves F1 with an overall record of 23 wins, and 57 podium finishes in 206 starts.
WATCH: 2016 @F1 World Champion @nico_rosberg talks about his decision to step away from racing #DankeN1CO #n1co #F1 https://t.co/D7nn80RuKp
— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) December 2, 2016
I have a message for you: https://t.co/XtL5AWuY4n pic.twitter.com/LGK4Xnihoq
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) December 2, 2016
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