Rosberg: Friendship compounded the anger

Date published: February 12 2017

Nico Rosberg concedes that his long-standing friendship with Lewis Hamilton meant that the bust-ups came with more anger and hurt feelings.

Last season, for the first time as Mercedes team-mates, Rosberg beat Hamilton to the Drivers’ Championship title only to announce his retirement days later.

The German stated at the time that he didn’t have it in him to challenge for another hard-fought title – and hard-fought it was.

Throughout their time together at Mercedes, Rosberg and Hamilton clashed on the track and it spilled over off it with the duo’s rivalry was made ever-more interesting by their long-standing friendship.

“That’s right,” Rosberg told the Daily Mail when it was put to him that their long-standing friendship added extra friction. “The anger is bigger if that person you know so well does something that crosses the line.

“Lewis is very good at going to the edge without going outside the grey area, thanks to his skills in the car. He is smart, very, very smart. I found it harder to go wheel-to-wheel. For him, it comes naturally.

“For me it is more rational. I have to work at standing my ground. I got more aggressive because too often in the past he had walked all over me. I had to watch the videos and make improvements.”

And although Rosberg called it quits on his F1 career at just 31 years of age, walking away from a reported £18 million-a-year contract, he says he could not have asked for a better ending to his F1 book.

“I can tell you this. My Formula One career book is closed with the most awesome ending I could have imagined,” he said, “and I love books that end happily.

“I am turning my life upside down, so it will be full of challenges. The underlying belief, however, is that it felt totally right. I am following my heart.

“Now I am excited because of all the freedom I have. When I was racing I was in a hamster wheel, a good one, of course, and I am so thankful for everything it gave me. I wouldn’t do anything differently.

“But to be the best in your sport you have to make a lot of compromises.

“Now I look at my calendar for March and it’s totally white, blank from start to finish. I can decide to explore whatever I want to. It’s about spending more time with my family, which last year was a serious shortcoming.

“It’s learning to play the guitar. You need to be in one place for a while to be with your teacher and get into a rhythm. That’s a ridiculous, small example.

“There are bigger things, too: I have received so much in my life: the World Championship, my family. I’m exploring what I want to do. Maybe something with kids, 10-year-olds, an age where I can make a difference.”