The celebrations complete, congratulations from his 1982 world champion father expressed, Rosberg began his speech at the FIA Prize-Giving ceremony in Vienna. He surprised the world cutting his contract short by almost two years with the announcement: “I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right.
“For 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my ‘one thing’ to become Formula 1 world champion.”
Toto Wolff, Mercedes team boss said the news took him completely by surprise, and yet “the clarity of his judgement meant I [Wolff] accepted his decision straight away when he told me.”
Although this week’s story has been Rosberg winning the Formula 1 world championship five days ago in Abu Dabi, press focused heavily on the legitimacy of Hamilton slowing the race down. Rosberg has successfully grabbed back the limelight declaring his retirement.
Andrew Benson, BBC Sport Chief F1 writer, speculated Rosberg’s thoughts were undoubtedly on, “what it would take to beat Lewis Hamilton to it again. He clearly felt that at the age of 31, with a young daughter, he was not prepared to make those sacrifices again.
Wolff explained that it wasn’t easy for Nico simply because he was a Rosberg descendant. “Throughout his career, people have thought he was on a golden path to success just because his father was a world champion. In fact, in some ways that made the challenge greater – and meant he had to fight even harder with the weight of expectation on his shoulders.”
“All in all, it is a classy move from a classy man,” says Benson. Checo Pérez and Esteban Gutiérrez chimed in with congratulations for his win and retirement:
— Sergio Pérez (@SChecoPerez) December 2, 2016
Nico, congratulations for being the World Champion! You've been very persistent through the years. Well done and very well deserved! https://t.co/Gfu6oG8E2k
— Esteban Gutierrez (@EstebanGtz) November 29, 2016
Rosberg thanked all those who had helped him along the way, especially his wife for putting her life on hold to let him focus on racing. Now he wants to take back time lost with his family, a thought that was sparked following his win at Suzuka. He says he wants to return to his role as a father and husband.
Wolff has held back on comments about who could fill the empty Mercedes cockpit but the Independent put out the odds (below) on who would fill Rosberg’s spot, mentioning Wolff’s previously expressed admiration for Alonso.
Odds on Rosberg’s replacement at Mercedes:
Pascal Wehrlein – Evs
Fernando Alonso – 6/4
Esteban Ocon – 10/1
Jenson Button – 20/1
Max Verstappen – 20/1
Nico Hulkenberg – 33/1
Valtteri Bottas – 50/1
Jolyon Palmer – 50/1
Felipe Massa – 50/1
The Stig – 100/1
Jeremy Clarkson – 500/1
Chris Evans – 500/1
Speculations will pepper the weekend’s news, as the team plan to begin mulling the decision over this coming Monday 5, 2016. Alan Alger, Sporting Events & Media Relations Manager at Betway thinks the decision will be taken swiftly as “Mercedes won’t drag their feet when it comes to finding a replacement.”
Data sourced: BBC, El País, the Independent.