Nico Rosberg reveals why he retired from F1 after 2016 title success

Jamie Woodhouse
Nico Rosberg on the podium. Suzuka 2016.

Nico Rosberg holds the winner's trophy aloft next to Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Suzuka 2016.

Nico Rosberg rose to the Formula 1 summit with Mercedes by becoming World Champion in 2016, and quickly headed for the F1 exit door from there.

He and Lewis Hamilton developed one of Formula 1’s fiercest rivalries as they battled for title glory as Mercedes team-mates, a partnership where Hamilton more commonly came out on top in terms of title successes, winning the 2014 and 2015 crowns.

But the following year it was Rosberg’s turn to become World Champion for the first, and as it turned out, only time as he would in the aftermath of that success confirm his retirement from Formula 1.

And speaking in an interview for the Men’s Health magazine, Rosberg served to shed further light on why he made what was a shock decision at the time.

“[I was] afraid that at some point I wouldn’t be good enough and that no team would want me anymore,” said Rosberg. “I wanted to decide for myself.”

Indeed, it was Rosberg’s wish to exit Formula 1 while still at his “peak”, rather than carry on and potentially in the future go into a period of decline, although he was only 31 years old when he chose to walk away from the series.

The 2016 title scrap with Hamilton went all the way down to the last lap of the season in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton leading from Rosberg and giving it one last roll of the dice by trying to back his team-mate into the chasing pack to trigger an overtake that would make the title his, a plan which ultimately was not successful.

And so, as Rosberg kept his cool and drove his Mercedes to the chequered flag which would seal his champion status, he decided that was it for his career: “That’s all we can do, it’s perfect. The end.” recommends

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But, while the decision itself to bid farewell to Formula 1 was not a particularly difficult one, what Rosberg did find tricky at first was discovering an “identity” for himself without Formula 1 in his life.

“In a way, I gave up my identity,” Rosberg claimed. “Everything in my life was racing: my mechanics, my engineers, my team-mates, even my social environment.

“To put all that to zero in one fell swoop was a shock to my system. Then there was the addiction to recognition and success.

“I had never asked myself what other passions I had. There was always just the next race.”

Rosberg has though built a successful post-F1 life for himself, founding his own Extreme E team as part of his wider career as a sustainability entrepreneur, while he also remains a regular face in the Formula 1 paddock in a punditry role.

Hamilton, meanwhile, would win four World titles in succession after Rosberg’s retirement to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Championship crowns, Hamilton now still in pursuit of that elusive eighth.