Talk about going out on top.
Over the weekend, Nico Rosberg won his first Formula One championship, beating Mercedes-Benz teammate and three-time champion Lewis Hamilton. Just days after that crowning achievement, Rosberg is retiring from F1, effective immediately. The announcement was a complete surprise, with Rosberg giving no previous indication that he was planning to retire, according to Reuters.
“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 said in a Facebook post. The 31-year-old German said he had been considering retirement even before Sunday’s race in Abu Dhabi, where he clinched the championship. He said he made his final decision on Monday, the day after the win.
Having achieved his ultimate goal of winning an F1 championship, Rosberg said he is no longer willing to live under the pressure of being a title contender. After a win in Suzuka made hime the favorite to win the championship “the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became world champion,” he said, adding that his racing career has taken a toll on his family. Rosberg became a father last year.
Rosberg gave no indication of his future plans, although many drivers have gone on to other forms of racing after leaving F1. He retires with a record of 23 wins in 206 races, and is only the second son of a champion to win the title. His father, Keke Rosberg, won the championship in 1982. Rosberg is also the first German driver in the history of F1 to win a world title in a German car. His battle with teammate Hamilton, the reigning champion, enlivened the 2016 F1 season, which was otherwise lacking in action because of the utter dominance of the Mercedes team.
Mercedes has won both the driver’s and constructors’ championships (F1 awards both every year) for the past three years, and won 19 of the 21 races this season. That makes Rosberg’s seat highly coveted, and could make next season very interesting indeed.