Rosberg retires!

New World Champion Nico Rosberg has announced his retirement from Formula 1. The 31-year-old German has stunned the F1 world and it will be interesting to see what the Mercedes AMG Petronas team does now…

“Since 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my ‘one thing’ to become Formula 1 World Champion,” Rosberg said in a statement. “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 tosavour 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 news will likely cause upheaval in the driver market as Mercedes looks for a replacement driver. The obvious choices might be the two drivers who retired this season, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa, both of whom have had relationships with Mercedes in the past. Jenson is, in theory, under contract to McLaren. However, Mercedes might prefer a different route and could push for others to replace Nico. The drivers who are currently in Mercedes teams are Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez, Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Bottas is under contract to Williams, but the Grove team might be convinced to let him go with sufficient financial incentive. It could replace him with Wehrlein. Mercedes might have bigger ambitions and might want to go after Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel, but extracting them from their contracts would likely be a complicated and expensive business.

Nico Hulkenberg will probably be kicking himself…

Whatever the case, things will be humming in the days ahead.

217 thoughts on “Rosberg retires!

  1. Wow. But good luck, and understandable.

    Now Toto and Niki, show us you have balls, give us Alonso… Kimi agrees 😀

      1. but if the teams had not submitted their proposed lineups, publishing the list would not have been possible. For once, I wouldn’t blame the FIA(sco).

        Merc had probably known about this since Monday and been phoning round to see who’s available, and causing uncertaintly with driver lineups for the teams as listed above (who will jump, and be replaced by whom?) there were probably a few teams who were not able to submit finalised entrant information.

        1. The drivers names are not important. The list often comes out with TBA in places where decisions have still to be made.

  2. ALO. Get in there for the match-up all fans want to see! It would make for another great swan-song story for Merc. Keep the pressure on for Lewis and make him sweat.

    Or let’s see Button come back… That could be a path pf resistance for Merc. I wonder if his ‘gardening leave’ provisions went out the door with Ron? He’s good enough to keep Lewis on his toes should he slip up…

    At least there will be things to write about this off-season!

      1. Wonder if Toto had an inkling of something like this earlier, which is why he was getting close to Max Verstappen, much to Christian Horner’s chagrin…

  3. Well there’s my WTF moment of the week! – Unexpected I must say but I guess that a certain Manor driver is quite happy at this point..

  4. Is this a joke, never saw this coming? Wow what a shame Nico doesn’t attempt to retain the title and explains why he was so non committal towards having the Number 1 designation on his car next season.

  5. Didn’t see that one coming – hang on a minute, 2 December isn’t France’s 1 April is it?

    Interesting twist in the driver market. Pigeons, meet the cat.

  6. Even if the announcement is very surprising, I’m sure all right thinking people will wish Nico well.
    I’d be surprised if Mercedes promoted either Wehrlein or Ocon, so the scramble for racing seats just got a whole lot more interesting.

      1. I’m surprised nobody yet seems to have mentioned Carlos Sainz. At Toro Rosso he was very close to Verstappen, and the two Red Bull first team seats appear to be sewn up….unless….would Red Bull consider releasing Verstappen in return for a Mercedes engine contract, I wonder.

  7. I bet no one saw that coming! Who wants to bet that Seb/Vettel are going through their contracts to see how they can tear it up?

    1. Strangely, I think this actually slightly increases the slim chances of a seat swap between Hamilton and Vettel. It’s still a small chance, but given that their stable partnership has been broken anyway, Mercedes may now be open to a double change and starting again all fresh, new car rules, new driver partnership. I think they’d be the one party of the four most resistant to the move, so if it marks a shift in their view, well, it’s been a year of surprises all the way through.

        1. So does Vettel, and so did Rosberg. It is unlikely, but given that both drivers have been pretty openly disgruntled with their teams this season, and given that both teams have shown some level of disgruntlement with their drivers at various points, now that Mercedes, who would have been the least likely of the four parties to be interested in an exchange, have to replace one of their duo, they may feel more favourably disposed to a double change. The swap with Ferrari would probably be an easier deal to pull off (for all parties) than what they’ll have to do to get a top driver in the other seat. It’s not beyond possibility that they decide while doing the one they’ll also do the other.

          1. Rule #1 – you don’t give up a title winning car. Why would Hamilton wish to leave an all-conquering Mercedes team to go to the toxic mess that Ferrari currently finds itself in?

            1. Firstly, because the winning car just became obsolete and nobody knows yet who will next come up with the best one, so secondly comes into play, which is he may just be fed-up enough with what he vociferously perceived as poor support from the team both with his engines and over the no backing-up orders, that he is in the mood to take a gamble and see which way up the dice land. Especially after he dropped lucky last time he did so.

              Thirdly, with Arrivabene taking a pop at Vettel’s inclination to seek to have influence beyond the driving seat, Hamilton may feel that his more casual style of relationship with the team and life in general may be more welcomed at Ferrari. His “you build the car, I’ll drive it” attitude could easily be more popular with Arrivabene, who wouldn’t be bothered what he did between races, whereas Mercedes may require more of his time if a new teammate is considerably less experienced, expecting him to fulfil Rosberg’s workhorse role, which Vettel would embrace, that’s how he likes to work.

              It’s an outsider, I wouldn’t put it above twenty per cent likelihood, but I certainly don’t rule it out because I can see appeal to all sides.

              1. While I understand the rationale, the rather big fly in the ointment is that there are no indications of Ferrari being in the sort of shape to build a WDC contending car. Joe has written several articles alluding to the fact that the team is in a mess across several aspects – R&D, pitwall & strategy, and senior management are all in the ‘could do better’ category.

                When Hamilton took the Merc drive, it wasn’t until after Ross Brawn visited him (at his mum’s!) and the team subsequently disclosed data points to prove the Silver Arrow would be a better bet than his current ride at what was McLaren.

                The chances of Ferrari demonstrating similar proof points over Hamilton’s current cockpit are slim but not impossible.

              2. It’s something I thought of too, @Dami. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Hamilton in red Ferrari overalls? However the likelihood is, as you said, below 20%…

  8. Wow! Didn’t see that coming, though I think I can rationalise why he’s done it.

    Who is your best guess for the spare seat now Joe? Can you see Alonso moving to have one last shot at the title?

  9. Blimey, now watch as most of the top drivers try to get out of their contracts. Perhaps Jensen should reconsider his gardening leave.

  10. I am NOT surprised of this news and feel that Nico has done the right thing for him and his family and feel he used quite a lot of himself up last year and just doesn’t have enough left to do it all again.
    Bravo Nico very brave!

  11. Wow… genuinely surprised…. but the more I think about it, it makes sense….

    Enjoy your retirement Nico,,,

  12. He knew he was only champion down to bad luck on Lewis’ part, and he knows that on a level playing field he has no chance of defending it successfully next season.

    Not much of a champion, methinks.

      1. Gary, you should have placed quotation marks around ‘gracious’. then your sarcasm would’ve been more stinging. Anway, nicely done.

    1. Methinks you should read his explanation again. And I think he ended 2016 with more points than any other driver. With if and buts and retrospect, you can come up with a different champion (or several different champions) for any season of any sport.

    2. right out of character for me to reply about a driver in this context,

      but even allowing your very uncharitable view,

      take what you said as a given, even,

      Nico’s move just screams “in a equal car… just imagine what I might have done earlier”

      Too much has gone on for me to believe there’s no significance .. Lewis moaned like his toys were taken away, as clear as you can get it was not trivial, the engineering moves.

      I think Nico just won F1 in about the most conclusive way imaginable.

      He also just won my heart, not so much for the implied comment on the car equality issue and entire engineering politics, which (whilst I am a fan of Lewis) shuts Lewis up for the whole year’s moaning, fully, and beautifully, but because I genuinely think he’d rather be at home with his young family.

      Few moves on or off track will be so remembered.

      Class.

      1. I haven’t researched the history fully, but I imagine that Nico’s father was absent for much of his childhood. And I can well believe that Nico vowed he would not do the same to his children.

        1. hi hazzaxb!

          right on! in a good way, too..

          I so nearly said, above, that I senses this was a father – son thing significantly.

          I was unaware of your suggested history. (I really do think personal history is wrong to interpret when the subject is young and amid the heat of life. A very personal wish that would change how F1 is seen, is if general / MSM reporting dropped, or were caused to drop, the vicariousness of piffling “commentary” no better than teen-angst rotten parlor talk. I doubt though that the writers are above that, yet…)

          Now – even though *beware* of confirmation bias – all the signals seem to support your point.

          I would discount – precisely because of confirmation bias – the possibility, were it not for virtually _every signal I picked up, making me think about him and his dad.

          So noted by someone who accidentally (whilst thinking I was doing the opposite, despite the actual parallels require a simple connection to be made that’s non obvious if you are not in my business!) followed my father’s footsteps all too precisely. I blanked my dad for over a decade, almost to his last years.

          My antennae were twitching, hard. I felt something anyhow.

          And that makes this for me, a reconciliation story, of a kind, and I think my heart just went gooey.

        2. p.s.

          harping on, forgive me please,

          but does not retiring now equal downing weapons, when in a fight for principles with one’s father?

          heart definitely gone gooey, now.

          He needed the luck, he has all the luck, he looked around….

          … yeah, so much more to do, and the love he’s earned will take him wherever he needs. Or needed. Downright coolest move.

          Way to go, Nico. Literally.

        3. Hazzaxb, Keke retired in 1986, when Nico was 1 year old, the same age as Nico’s daughter. So I imagine he copied his dad’s decision!

    3. You can understand why he called it a day, so much negative comment and bullshit spoken after Abu Dhabi. Nico isn’t a worthy champion blah blah, everyone forgets how small the margin Prost won by in 86, a win is a win, half a point, one point or 5. Ron Dennis said 2nd is first of the losers. I liked Hamilton, now his whining is just annoying, shut up and let your talent shine through.

    4. Hamilton’s luck wasn’t that bad, he only had one extra DNF, two-to-one. And over his career he has nothing to moan about, he has the lowest percentage of career technical failure DNFs of any of the 33 world champions, at around six percent, one per cent below Rosberg’s.

      Perhaps Hamilton should bear that in mind when he compares himself and his achievements, as he so likes to do, to Ayrton, who had over three times the failure rate. The likes of Clark, Stewart, Mansell and Lauda had about five times the percentage of technical DNFs in their careers.

      Hamilton really hasn’t got anything to complain about, yet even today, following the Rosberg news, he is quoted as saying he wishes Rosberg well, but isn’t surprised by the decision because it’s the first time Rosberg has won in eighteen years competition between them, and he has a young family. Why could he not just have said he wasn’t surprised because Rosberg has a young family and left it at that?

  13. Hi may I speak to toto please, it’s Sebastian. It’s kimi, it’s every driver on the grid. Toto should probably change his phone number right now. And Wehrlein must be smiling so hard it hurts right now.

  14. wow. plenty of fun and games now about who gets one of best seats around. all the big names are committed aren’t they?

    1. Me neither. My money had been on a mercedes vacancy due to Lewis getting the sack. How wrong could I be!

  15. I’ll bet a few drivers are frantically calling their lawyers to see just how locked in they are to contracts they have just signed and cursing that they didn’t hold off just a a few days!

  16. Simply cannot believe that it’s as simple as that! You’ve got to think that there’s been some kind of post championship event that’s made that happen…

  17. What a class act he is. No- son of a GP champion who grew up in Monaco should be, on the face of what we can see, such a decent human being at all levels.

    What a seat that is though! Pascal or Alonso….

  18. So, silly season starts super early this year!! Wherlein could be in for a nice xmas present.. Maybe a 1 year contract to see how good he is, merc can work on verstappen or vettel in that breathing space. All depends how the new regs work out too and which teams are top of the tree! 2016 full of surprises to the last

  19. This move seems so like Nico – sensible and smart who appears to be a deep family man. Why tarnish his title winning season as he does not need either money, kudos or media exposure.

    Always thought Suzuka was the turning point rather than Malaysia.

  20. I like Nico, I think he did a good job this year and deserved to win the championship but although he won it this year he will be world champion for 2017 and part of his job is to promote motor racing in general and formula 1 in particular during that year. Now he won’t be around to do it. It may be the best decision for him and his family but it’s a poor decision for motor racing.

    1. Says more about the state of F1, doesn’t need the negativity spouted. Mentally and physically exhausted, respects his wife’s support. It will be her who helps him adjust to life outside the sport. Always rated his old man, straight up no bullshit, Nico a chip off the old block.
      Good work Nico!

  21. Mercedes will want a driver able to compete with Hamilton right away, not a new kid on the block like Werlein.

    Alonso with Hamilton in the same team ? It will never happen…

    Vettel should be the right choice because he’s german and not happy in the red suit.

      1. Why not ? He was like a rock in their shoes all season. There’s so many drivers wanting to drive for Ferrari so they will replace him pretty quickly at a much lower salary that Vettel’s.

        1. If Seb was cracking under the pressures of Webber and Ricciardo as teamnates, Toto would be mad to think he could outscore or remotely handle the sress Lewis would bring to bear.

          And Alonso as teamnate, a McLaren 2007 redux? NFW!!!

      1. Of course and as usual you were first out of the blocks. James Allen hasn’t even got it up on his website hehe.

    1. He would be if I thought there was a chance that they would get him. But Red Bull will hold him come what may.

  22. What a coward. I have lost all respect for Nico. He knows how lucky he got with all the stars aligning perfectly for him to win this year and knows that a fired up Hamilton will totally dominate him next season. Far easier to run away than stay and fight.

    1. I am sure that Nico will be deeply distressed to hear that you no longer respect him.
      He has plenty of money in the bank, he has a wife and daughter to spend time with. He is not naturally assertive, does not appear to be strongly driven, and probably found doing what it takes to become world champion very taxing. In that light, it is entirely reasonable that he might decide that he doesn’t need F1 any more. That’s not cowardice, that’s being rational.

      1. Only have one critique hazzaxb – “does not appear to be strongly driven”. I disagree. Other than that 100% agree.

        I found him to be very intelligent and well spoken when he did those track previews and explanations. This year, it was obvious he was mentally exhausted by his demeanour and words on the podiums. This achievement clearly took a lot of focus, hard work and mental conviction under extreme pressure – attributes of someone strongly driven 🙂

        All the best to him and his family – this is the way to go out and the big finger to all his detractors is the icing on top – BRAVO!

        Lewis, if he was a friend for 18 years, he sure has a classless way of showing it. That was one completely unnecessary liner.

        That statement leads me to think that Nico has run the table for 18 years, and will into the future in terms of being a class act vs. Hamilton.

    2. What a coward. I have lost all respect for Nico.

      I can understand this negative sentiment. Rosberg is certainly free to do whatever he wants, but there is some dishonor in denying both the fans and drivers the presence of the reigning WDC on the grid next year.

      1. There is more honour in doing what is best for you and your family, fullstop.

        Friends were gobsmacked when a close friend quit his prominent position (nowhere near the stratosphere of income these guys make) after his son scoffed, “yeah, right, you always say that!” when he said he would attend his school event. He decided to quit that day and moved on at the sacrifice of career and the mighty dollar. A decision, I will always respect.

        No dishonor in anything Rosberg has done – the first Championship was that goal. Half a year away from his young daughter vs. defending a trophy – NO BRAINER.

  23. Gobsmacked!

    You dont just retire like that there has got to be more to it!

    Just a theory but do you think Joe that Mercedes have said they will not reprimand Hamilton after disobeying orders?

    Maybe Nico feels that now he is champ Mercedes shouldnt be bowing down to Hamilton and letting him get away with his antics like quitting in Barcelona and disobeying team orders.

    Nico pulled aside in Monaco after all and has played it straight. If Mercedes are going to let Hamilton off scott free maybe Nico has said I dont need the agro anymore. Ive done what ive needed to do.

    1. If you read what the man says, it is clear that it has nothing to do with what happened this year. He has achieved his ambition and wants to quit at the top.

      1. Fair play to him if that is the case. There are not many who can bow out at the top. Deserved title now for some fun on the Cote D’Azure doing the family thing! What a life!

        Lets hope hes not also boring in 4 languages as a pundit!

    2. There’s plenty of precedent for quitting at the top: Jackie Stewart, Jody Sheckter, even Alain Prost did it. I’m sure there are others but those are the ones that spring to mind.

  24. I actually had a random passing notion that he would do something like this, and immediately chastised myself for considering the ridiculousness of the idea.

    Good for him, I guess this validates the overwhelming stress and pressure that drivers are under, especially when the best driver and chief competitor is your teammate!

    Lewis may have lost this year’s title, but I wonder if he will take any measure of satisfaction from his contribution to Nico’s retirement?

  25. Max would be the smart choice, but Alonso is the choice that everyone wants. I’m sure that Alonso’s contract has the necessary get-out clauses since McLaren’s performance has been so bad.

      1. and as you are always telling us Joe, an F1 contract is the starting point for a negotiation, not the end of it!

        1. I think the issue with Max contract at Red Bull, is who the contract is with Jerry.

          Sure, any contract can get broken. But Mateschitz has no incentive at all to let him go anywhere (unlike a Williams, or even McLaren). He has all the money he needs, and they are in a straight fight with Mercedes recently.
          Maybe if Max wanted it badly enough there would be a basis to elude it. But then for next year being in a Red Bull is much less of a good seat than being in a Mercedes.

    1. Also, Max will be loyal to RedBull. They gave him the chance to drive in F1. Furthermore, with all these aero changes, Red Bull might become the team to beat. Their chief designer has done too badly the last few years.

    2. Nobody in their right minds would sell Max who is the most promising driver on the grid since Senna,and definitely a future world champion. Probably next year if Ricciardo doesn’t get there first.

  26. If they get Hülkenberg, they won’t have to spend money on replacement labels for the equipment that says “Nico” on it

  27. Fair play to him!

    Something golfer Padraig Harrington says always stuck with me: Many golfers have their goal as “To win a Major”, and once they achieve that remarkable, defining feat, they lose the raw motivation and drift out of the game.

    Harrington always says his motivation growing up was to “win Majors”, which allowed him to keep driven and win several.

    Rosberg’s statement suggests he realised he fell in the former category. A fine example of the self-awareness he’s always shown. A shame though.

  28. Respect. I’d always thought it would be Vettel who would be the one to announce this winter that he’s done all he’s ever going to do in F1 and he’s off to enjoy other things (and maybe he will) but I can see why he’s done it. He’s World Champion. What else is there left to do? He’s not so young as to have time to go chasing Schumacher’s career records…

  29. Thank you Joe.
    I had only briefly read your article.
    I had heard though that Pascal was unhappy in F1 and missed DTM.
    After being rejected by Renault for Ocon, I would have thought that would only intensify his want to leave.

      1. Ok… Call it Joe.

        Pascal ?

        Alonso ?

        Bottas?

        Verstappen?

        Vettel?

        Button ?

        Massa ?

        Maldonado? Hahaha

        Rio ? Hahahahaha

        ( pay enough and any driver is a possibility, though it might explain why Pascal didnt get the Fi or Renault seats ?! )

  30. Interesting and well done Nico!
    There is a man not afraid to quit at the very top. It is sad to see the slow decline of top drivers as they move down to less competitive cars and inevitably never get a chance to shine again.

    Jenson will be in rallycross as he said about 15 times during the channel4 live post race/celebration interview. (wish we had that back on tv again)

  31. Wow..what a surprise..or was it? I’m not a Rosberg fan but I do respect what he’s achieved this year.

    Hamilton is an extremely tough competitor – look at Fernando. I suspect that Rosberg didn’t want to go through the hell of competing with Hamilton again. To me, he more or less says so in his statement. He has had to ‘man-up’ a lot – and he did that in spades this year.

    He’s achieved his goal and good luck to him. His last stress-filled drive proved, to me, that he is a worthy champion. He’s leaving as an undefeated champion which will add to his reputation.

    But I will miss the real human and racing tension of the Hamilton – Rosberg wars. At a time of one-team dominance, this was where the *real* competition remained for fans. To find someone who will replace Rosberg, who will have the mental strength come back after being repeatedly swatted down by Hamilton, who will keep Hamilton honest in the car…well, that won’t be very easy at all.

  32. I think Lewis might be quite unhappy about this as he knows Nico inside out and is slightly faster than him. Better the devil you know and all that. I hope Nico enjoys his retirement.

  33. Took the time to fully digest his statement, and the poignant part is where he described ” championship” when discussing his wife’s contributions.

    Overall, a concise insightful summary of his reasoning, and I’m sure all race fans will wish him well.

    I can’t believe that won’t be racing a Mercedes cab in the DTM in the near future, but that is speculation for a later time.

    Enjoy your moment in the sun Nico, looking forward to where life brings you next.

    1. I found his use of “our opportunity” and “our championship” very touching as well. It was clear to see the utter devotion between the couple as their tearful eyes were locked during his podium interview. I did not for one moment expect this move, but I wish Rosberg and his family the very best.

  34. Hi Joe

    do you think Alonso has any chance to be offered the seat and McLaren allowing him to leave them?

    That would be a dream move Prost vs Senna part 2. Def what we need in F1..

  35. I don’t think it will go unnoticed by Toto and Nikki that the one driver who managed to keep a harmonious and productive relationship with Lewis through multiple years together was Jenson. That could be a very valuable asset to Mercedes. Lewis for all his speed and talent, seems to feel the need to play mind games on his team mate and Jenson’s proven ability to deal with this without conflict erupting makes him the perfect candidate IMHO. Toto has no doubt been sweating the past couple of seasons and Lewis and Rosberg bounced off one another, metaphorically and sometimes physically!

    Whether Jenson can be extracted from contract is another thing entirely, but then who would agree to a year out from racing without a clause that if an opportunity came along, he could take it?

    1. From the things Jenson has said, he’s basically burned out on F1 and wants to take a break from the life of an F1 driver. A seat in a Mercedes might revitalise him, though it’s a gamble given the shake up in the rules might mean that Mercedes are not as all conquering as they have been for the last three years.

    2. F1Analyst – These sentiments for Jenson and Merc are all very well and well founded I believe, except, I think Button has really hung up his F1 helmet and it showed the later part of the season.
      I have followed Jenson’s career since Karting and I don’t, honestly, think I will be following him into a Merc next year. Unfortunately!

  36. For sure it will be Wehrlein. No deal yet, Mercedes boy for years. Why should say spend millions to get Alo, Vet, Hul or someone out of a contract? HAM can win them the next title, and WEH can grew beside him. This is a no-brainer.

      1. Joe,

        without putting you on the spot regarding the choice Toto has to make – would you mind sharing why you don’t think Wehrlein is ready?

    1. Mercedes’ only goal is to win the constructor’s championship. To do that, you need two strong drivers both at the sharp end of the field. A Mercedes seat is only for a driver who has shown *in F1* that they have what it takes. For the moment, that excludes Wehrlein.

  37. I’d have my money on Ocon. Very well thought of, young, the “next one”..? Good head-to-head against Max in the RB.

  38. Double WOW !! My eyes nearly went out of it’s socket reading this !

    Congratulation to Nico, I’m really humbled by his humility. He is a Champion and a real gentleman.

    Would Alonso be pissed if Vettel go to the Silver Arrows….?

  39. I already had money on Verstappen in a Red Bull for WDC in 2017, if I was Max I’m not sure I would leave Red Bull for Mercedes even if I could.

    If Alonso dumps McLaren for Mercedes I predict a sustained audible mirth event from Ron Dennis 🙂

  40. Incredible! I think Alonso has dedicated too much effort in the McLaren-Honda project and I don’t see him quit that, taking into consideration the unknown of 2017 and the new cars. Seb Vettel is unhappy at the moment, but probably in his mind still chasing the dream of emulating Michael at Ferrari, so I have one question for you, Joe. Do you think Mercedes would bet on a young talent such as Wehrlein or Ocon, like McLaren have been doing for years – giving the new guy a shot at the big game directly with a winning car (It worked great with Lewis) or would they try to snatch another driver from his current contract ?Probably not Alonso or Vettel as everyone is speculating due to the reasons above, but I think they will try to get Perez, Hulkenberg or Bottas.

    1. I am thinking Bottas might be the one, as he does have Toto Wolff on his management team. Personally, I would like to see that. Williams might want something in return, like a reduction in the engine costs.

  41. “Best to slip betimes away
    From fields where honor does not stay.”

    But still, kind of leaves the team that supported your effort throughout the year in a tight spot. Wonder if he gave them ny heads-up this was in the works?

    Interesting comparo – Nico cites strain of recovery taking his full attention between races while Hammy pretty much parties his brains out.

  42. I knew he’d bottle it !!!! , Nico knows just how lucky he’s been this year and also knows he has no chance of a defense of his title in a straight fight against Lewis or anyone else …

    1. @ Oliver Whiting. “Bottle it?” I don’t think so somehow. It has taken immense bottle to give up the best seat in the house as far as F1 cars go. Who knows Rosberg could have grown from the year that he sustained an gone on to do it again, we’ll never know. But what we do know is what the man has said about his wife and how she chose to shelter him and make sacrifices for “their” championship. He has decided that he cannot and will not put them ALL through it again.
      An action to be commended for it’s grit. Nico Rosberg has proved beyond doubt that he doe not “bottle it”!

      1. It seems the bottle in question and the only formula he is demonstrating interest in are the bottle’s he will be filling with formula to feed his childfren. Kind of refreshing to see a guy walk away from millions of $ and put his family first. In an era where greedy celebrities & atheletes can’t seem to get enough millions he should be commended by the public for demonstrating a people first atitude, of course we all know he’s earned plenty and lives in a tax haven but there is a humilty in demonstrating that he does not require massive excess. Good on him, he is certainly his own man and let’s not forget the dangers that exist in motor racing – his children god willing, will grow up with both parents.

  43. I really hope they bring Bottas up to Mercedes. Put Wehrlein in the Williams instead. That would be great for both drivers. As a Swede though I’d love to see Marcus Ericsson promoted instead of Wehrlein tough, but I’m reasonable enough to see why that won’t happen. And why Ericsson probably won’t drive for anyone but Sauber in F1.

        1. I’ve made the same observation near the top of the page, Bill. I thought there was a slim chance of it before this, but that ultimately Mercedes wouldn’t want to break up their successful duo. Now that pair is split, they may see it more flexibly. All four parties have expressed dissatisfaction with their team/driver this year at some stage. Clean breaks all round could be surprisingly appealing to all concerned. I don’t think Hamilton would be pushed into a move he didn’t want, he knows his own mind and would stand his ground, rather I think he, like the others, may be receptive to the option.

  44. I personally hope JB can be persuaded, the new regs/cars make a young hot shoe a big gamble. A proven quantity like JB would be a big draw for Mercedes. Most likely is Bottas with the Toto connection though. Could a tough year for Team Willy again if he does go though.

  45. Could Mercedes prise Carlos Sainz away from Red Bull I wonder? He clearly has the talent and he may enjoy a more harmonious relationship with Hamilton than Alonso or Vettel would.

  46. It takes a particular courage to give up something you’re good at, when the easy option would be to carry on. Good for him. A man with his feet on the ground – there is life outside of F1 driving.

  47. Sadly missed but it only increases my respect for him as a gentleman as he matured into a proper adult. All those years as team mate to multiple world champions with no tantrums, just sheer hard work on top of talent.

    Happy Retirement Nico.

  48. The reaction from Merceds seems like a bit of an open invitation. I’d bet the likes of Alonso, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Magnussen, Perez, Ocon and maybe Button are checking the small print to see how they can get out of their contracts (Guess Max and Daniel Ricciardo will be fine where they are), maybe even a Sainz too?. A Grosjean, possibly as well.

    Or even people like Robin Frijns and Da Costa. What about Bird or Dilman. Although neither of them has any recent F1 experience

    On the one hand a tough job for Mercedes. But they will have quite a list to pick from. Now just to decide what is best for the team, for marketing etc.

    Taking Wehrlein or Ocon would probably bee no problem at all. Taking Bottas might be an option (surely Williams would be able to let him go, provided they were compensated). Who knows, it might even make Bernie happy because it will open up a spot to keep Nasr in (back at Williams?)

  49. Yes, Nico could try to go on and get x number of titles. However after what happened to Michael Schumacher, I can guess he can see that life can be unexpected at any moment. He has won a title, so onto the next thing.

  50. Joe, would Nico have retired if he lost the world championship e.g. say a mechanical retirement in Abu Dhabi? His statement says he decided to retire on the morning of the last race. Whilst this championship must have been unbelievably draining on him and his family … he did sign a contract extension earlier in the year didn’t he?

  51. Very surprised, but good luck to him. As for replacements, What do you think about Nico Hulkenberg Joe? He’s quick, seasoned and German. I don’t know what Renault is paying but I’m sure Mercedes have the financial muscle to get him released if they choose to.

  52. I think it’ll be Bottas *if* Merc can extricate him from his Williams seat. If not, I could see someone given a 1 yr contract until the major players become ‘available’ at the end of next season. Of course, none of us know what the pecking order will be then – although I think we have a right to assume that one Mr A Newey will probably have put his design genius to good use and that Red Bull will somewhere at the sharp end.

    Joe – JB’s McLaren contract, do have any idea what the original reason behind it was? A fallback in case FA quit or SvD didn’t make the grade? And, has the original anything changed now that Ron’s gone? It seems to me that Jenson went from being pretty positive about having a drive in 2018 if *he* wanted one to announcing that we ought to treat it as a retirement.

  53. Like everyone, I was surprised at the news, but thinking about it, perhaps I shouldn’t have been. This was the one time that Nico was going to be able to be World Champion.

    Better to go out at the top, obviously. But although his decision was presumably made largely by a desire to put his family first, I wonder how much of a nagging doubt there was in his mind that this was as good as it gets and he’d immediately have to go back to being beaten by Lewis. That kind of thought must be corrosive; every other driver can convince themselves that the car was rubbish, the team were incompetent…..when you’re driving equal cars with equal reliability and you get beaten consistently, it’s hard to maintain self-belief.

    Good luck to him. I’ve never especially rated him as a driver – very good but not great, in my assessment (and it seems the F1 team bosses agree with me) – but he’s made the best of what he’s got and no-one can ever take the title away from him.

  54. After all the noise of the past three seasons it could be a tempting opportunity to stick a competent, grateful number 2 in the other side of the garage – a Patrese/Mansell or Irvine/Schumi setup where there’s one clear star of the show. I don’t see Mercedes buying that, though because they will want/need a German who is on the pace. Wehrlein might not have much F1 experience but neither did Lewis in 2007. He’s my pick. Give him one year to toe the line and master his craft, give Lewis another title and then light the blue (or red, yellow and black) touch paper.

  55. The logic goes like this: Mercedes would like to have Vettel because he’s German, and he thinks even a monkey could win in their current car. Mr Hamilton’s ego wouldn’t be able to resist a drive at Ferrari.

    1. Just a few problems with that, not least that “their current car” will be entirely different under next year’s regs, and there’s no guarantee it will still be the best seat. HAM to Ferrari will never happen – the Italian fans don’t want a black driver. Harsh but true.

  56. I am guilty of having underestimated Nico Rosberg down the years, not only as a driver but also as a man. I’m touched by the sincerity and bravery of his explanation to retire, putting forward the sacrifice to his family values as one of the reasons he has decided to stop now. It’s a reminder to me that we never really know these top sportspeople and what they are really thinking. It’s also a reminder of the extreme stress they go through to do their job. I wonder how becoming a father can affect these guys when the level of commitment to perform on the world stage is so high and relentless… After such a demanding season, I suppose Toto Wolff was hoping for a bit of a break – finding a new driver is not going to be an easy task. Personally, I would go for Nasr 😉

    1. I was just thinking that no one had mentioned Nasr! Seems competent enough, is looking for a drive and Bernie wants a Brazilian. Maybe the stars have lined up for him!

  57. Bernie Ecclestone careful what you wish for, spouting on about how Nico wasn’t box office etc. Clearly Nico privately felt that his world championship winning effort wasn’t getting the level of recognition it deserved, he doesn’t need all of the BS next year, let Lewis get all the front page he wants. Reckon Keke told Nico it wasn’t worth the grief, it wont get any better so quit while you are ahead. Plenty will slag him off for not staying around to defend the title against Lewis, who cares! Only two drivers have been world champion sons of world champion fathers, and yes Damon was also underrated, just ask Prost.
    Respect to Rosberg, proves nice guys can be winners.

  58. Joe, how much emphasis (if any) do you think Mercedes will place on having Nico’s replacement be a German?

  59. Wow, that was quite a surprise. Happy for him though, achieved his goal and now he can spend time with the family he so loves. Here’s to you Nico, thanks for the great battle in 2016 and creating a bit of a jumble in the driver line-up!

  60. I wonder, does Mercedes almost need a top driver in the other car? From a TV time perspective, they get very little of it when one of their drivers disappears out in front. They get much more of it when there is a fight at the front…. Ocon, Pascal etc are just not going to create the tension the team needs I think.

    Michael

    1. They definitely want another top driver in the other seat; Mercedes aren’t really all that interested in the WDC. For them it’s all about being the Champion Manufacturer, something that’s far less likely with Lewis & AN Other No 2 Driver.

      Additionally, making it too much The Lewis Show makes you subject to the whims and demands of one individual; what happens when he wants to retire in (say) three years, or goes off the boil because he’s got minimal competition?

  61. So difficult to be strong enough, smart enough and of significant resolve and crystal clear headedness to be able to pull the plug at this moment. I’m so impressed and happy for Nico & Vivian.
    I’ve worked in Indy Car racing for almost 30 seasons and have seen numerous guys with terrific CV’s and families wrestle with this decision and not be able to call time..!
    There are 2,3 or 4 guys in our Paddock who will now give this decision further thought in the weeks leading up to Christmas…!

  62. Well that came out of the left field! Having said that, I think it shows Nico as a quality human being, racer, team player, great husband and great dad….total respect. he climbed the mountain, got bumped off the top, but didn’t give up or give in, and I’ve thought that says a lot about the guy.
    I hope he and his family enjoy a long and happy life ahead, and have a feeling that he may never set foot inside a racing car cockpit again, for competition purposes….what a top bloke!
    And hats off to Mr Hamilton, who hasn’t felt any need to grunge over this announcement, and had his gracious baseball cap on when asked his opinion. As to who gets the seat, personally, i’d love to see JB there, but i rather suspect that his F1 days have really expired, I doubt he wants to do more in F1.
    Taking on an inexperienced driver would make Mercs life easier, maybe…unless it was Max V!
    For my money, I’d think that the 3 blokes kicking the doors down to their legal eagles must be Alonso,Vettel & Ricciardo. There are plenty of others, but would Merc really really want say Perez? Or Palmer, or Bottas etc etc. Max V, different story, but RB probably wouldn’t allow that unless they got works spec Merc PU’s!
    So, Alonso with probably another weary and lost year ahead at Mac, or Seb with only slightly better life at Ferrari are likely to be the ones making 101% effort to break contracts, and how many times has an F1 contract of any sort been broken in the past? They rarely seem to be worth the paper they are written on…..If one was Toto, the possibility of Alonso would be a huge draw i’d think, and Vettel wouldn’t harm Merc with the home public……
    Going to be fascinating to see what happens next and it may well set all the seats going in proper playground manner….even little things, like Alonso chucking some salary at Mac and a sweetener from Merc….how’s that to change a contract? Vettel and Ferrari? Well the relationship with the top brass is rocky and it would be a no brainer for Seb as the chances of next year’s Ferrari being a whole lot better seem slim.
    I’m going to go with Ferdy/Seb/Daniel R at Evens for the first 2, Ricciardo at 10/1, and all the Rest at 100/1 down to 1000/1.

  63. Whilst much more of a surprise, it’s reminiscent of Hakkinen in some ways. I remember Mika just seemed to arrive at that point where he’d achieved everything he’d wanted and the family became more important. He’d seen Senna robbed of a life after racing and had experienced that near-death experience in Adelaide. I remember him saying in an interview that winning the WDC was hard enough; trying to retain it and win it a second time was even harder. I’d like to think Mika retired at or near the very top. Nico has gone one better and retired at the very peak and you have to admire him for his judgment and having the vision of a life outside the F1 bubble. Who knows, we might get a more detailed explanation in the future when all personalities are retired and the autobiographies come out.

  64. On second thoughts; wonder if Nico’s done a ‘Nigel Farrage’? You know; said he’s going to retire….then come back again….then retired again…….then…….

  65. Congratulations again to Nico on his WDC. Best wishes to him and his family in his retirement, and also in his next adventure. Class act! I’ve nothing but respect for him.

  66. Who would have thought when he picked up Bernie it was his way of saying goodbye little fella I’m gonna miss you!

  67. Phil Hill said:
    “Racing brings out the worst in me, Without it, I don’t know what kind of person I might have become. But I’m not sure I like the person I am now. Racing makes me selfish, irritable, defensive.”

    Grats to Nico on getting out with his ego intact.
    Retiring at 31 sounds pretty good to me. 😉

  68. I can imagine Nico Hulkenberg right now being the rage guy meme right now or angry Pepe (the non-nazi version of Pepe the Frog before Trump supporters took the meme over).

    Hopefully he is smart enough to have a “release from contract when an offer from a top team comes” clause.

  69. I don’t want to be disrespectful to Rosberg or others here who hold him in high respect. I appreciate him for thinking of his family, retiring while at the top, et al. But what this proves, and based on what Nico himself said about all the effort he took to win this World Championship and how he could not possibly do that again, is that he is not in the same level as Hamilton, Alonso, Schumacher who’d love to take this kind of effort for 10 or 15 seasons at a stretch. For Nico all this effort is a big, big deal but for Hamilton or Alonso this is second nature. It’s what they’re here for.

    I know people want to be respectful of someone who’s announced his retirement, but Nico has shown in clear daylight that he cannot be among the all-time greats. All-time greats are relentless season after season. It’s never too much for them unless they are pretty old (in sporting terms). But for Rosberg all this effort is too much. That’s why he’s retiring at just 31!

    Well, it’s his decision but he’s just lost a fan. I became his fan this season, when I saw how he was fighting for the title. At Abu Dhabi I became a big fan of his, when I saw him clinch the title and then celebrate. But this has thoroughly shocked me.

  70. Sad to see him go but so many sports people say they will leave when they reach the top and don’t and Nico has. Much respect.

  71. happy retirement nico ! finally got his chance and grabbed it
    but , as the bard put it , nothing became him like the manner of his leaving …a class act

  72. Again a pleasure to read your reflected comments. Life has many facets. Particularly for a young man with a family in it’s prime.

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