Rosberg, who claimed his first Formula One drivers’ title in Abu Dhabi last Sunday, has said that the 2016 season would be his last in F1. The German-born Mercedes driver wants to spend more time with his family.
The 31-year-old made the shock announcement in a statement posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts on Friday, just five days after he had won the drivers’ title for the first time.
“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,” the Wiesbaden native said.
“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,” Rosberg added.
“Now I’ve achieved that, I’ve put everything into it for 25 years of racing and with the help of everybody around me, with the help of fans and the help of my team and my family and friends I have managed to achieve that this year,” the statement said. “So it has been an incredible experience for me that I will remember forever.
A day of reflection
“I took my decision on Monday evening after reflecting for a day,” he said, before noting that he wanted to spend more time with his family. Rosberg is married and has a one-year-old daughter.
“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.”
In his father’s footsteps
Rosberg secured his first drivers’ title by finishing second to his Mercedes teammate and rival Lewis Hamilton at Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He thus followed in the footsteps of his Finnish father, Keke, who won the 1982 drivers’ championship. This made them only the second father-son duo to have both won the title, after Graham (1962, 1968) and Damon Hill (1996).
Sunday’s victory reversed a couple of frustrating years for Rosberg, who had been unable to get past Hamilton in the other Mercedes cockpit. In 2014 he was hampered by technical problems in a number of races and Hamilton prevailed in the final race of the season to take his second drivers’ title.
The two Mercedes drivers again went into last season as favorites and Rosberg managed to keep Hamilton under pressure for much of the way, but the Englishman clinched his third title with three races to spare.
A tough race in Abu Dhabi
In the last race of 2016, when Rosberg finally won his first title, Hamilton was accused by some of playing dirty.Leading the race throughout, Hamilton sought to slow the pace of the race and thereby back his teammate into trouble.
Rosberg was running second, and Hamilton knew that his teammate needed to finish fourth or worse for the Brit to have a chance at the championship. Hamilton was trying to give Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen a better shot at overtaking Rosberg, who later conceded that this had made it a particularly difficult race for him.
Although Hamilton broke no rules in the process, he did put Mercedes’ 1-2 finish in jeopardy.
Rosberg retires with 23 career Grand Prix wins, having finished among the podium places 55 times in 206 races entered since he made his debut on the circuit as a Williams driver in 2006.