Saturday, December 3, 2016

Recently-crowned 2016 Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg retires less than a week after winning the title

It hasn't been a week since Mercedes AMG Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg was crowned as the 2016 World Champion at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yet the German has officially announced his retirement from the sport.

Rosberg announced his retirement just before he was handed the Drivers' Championship Trophy in Vienna, Austria, saying that the title it has always been his "target."

"And now I’ve made this feels right," Rosberg added.

"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," revealed Rosberg. "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 (Rosberg's wife) and Georg (Nolte, from Nico’s management team), followed by Toto (Wolff, Mercedes AMG Formula 1 chief)."

Rosberg joined the Formula 1 circus in 2005 with the Williams F1 outfit as its test driver before he was elevated into a race seat a year later with the dismissal of Antonio Pizzonia. After four seasons with the team capped by a 7th place finish at the end of the 2009 season, Rosberg was drafted by the then-new Mercedes AMG team as its first driver, 55 years after the German carmaker left the sport at the end of the 1955 season.

Despite being partnered with seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, Rosberg outclassed his more experienced teammate for the next three seasons. It was with Lewis Hamilton's entry into the team following Schumacher's departure after the 2012 season that things suddenly became tense between the the two drivers. Rivals in the junior formula series in their younger years, Rosberg and Hamilton were closely matched for the next three seasons from 2013 to 2015 though it was always the latter that came out on top at the end. For the 2016 season, although Hamilton won 10 races as opposed to Rosberg's nine, the latter only had one retirement compared to the former's two. Though Hamilton looked to finish the season on top with four successive first-place finishes, Rosberg only needed to complete the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a podium finish. And with Rosberg's second-place finish, the German took the crown by finishing the season five points ahead of Hamilton.

"This is a brave decision by Nico and testament to the strength of his character," Wolff said of Rosberg's retirement. "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."

Rosberg has competed in a total of 206 Grands Prix and won 23 of them, placing him on equal footing with Nelson Piquet as 12th on the all-time list. He also has 30 pole positions in his name, putting him as 8th on the all-time list. On a more auspicous note for the German Formula 1 team, Rosberg is the first German driver to win a Formula 1 World Championship at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow. As the son of 1982 Formula 1 World Champion Keke Rosberg, Nico is the second son of a former world champion to win the title himself, following Damon Hill, son of two-time champ Graham Hill, in 1996.

Congratulations, Nico, and good luck on whatever you plan to do next.

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