But why did Nico Rosberg retire?

Published: December 9, 2016
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Mercedes’ Formula One driver Nico Rosberg (L) of Germany shakes hands with Lewis Hamilton of Britain. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – 27/11/2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Unfortunately, Nico Rosberg retired at the age of 31, just days after becoming the 2016 Formula One (F1) world champion. Internet broken? Yes. Shock value? Yes. Dirty photos, shocking health or private issues? No. Just a guy who’s technically the best at his job saying goodbye to all the speed and power he has to spend time with his lady and kid.

Nico Rosberg becomes 2016 F1 world champion.
Photo: Reuters

Rosberg lacked the charisma and charm of a global icon. F1 maestro, Bernie Ecclestone, even said that Rosberg’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, would always be a better champion for the sport considering his immense global popularity. Basically, there’s Nico who wants to be a family man and then there’s Lewis who parties in Hollywood, Manhattan, London and Paris while Nico is with his family or at a local charity event. While Lewis is on his private jet going from Monaco to Hollywood for an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, Nico is in Hamburg or Brackley looking at his team’s work.

Mercedes AMG F1 is expected to lose some of the ground it has made against Honda, Red Bull, and Ferrari heading into 2017 due to new regulations. Hamilton and Rosberg are both error-prone unlike Alonso and Vettel but they manage to get the best out of their cars while avoiding any traps set by their rivals. Hamilton and Rosberg have been each other’s only real competition since 2014, so seeing one of them retire is unusual.

Formula One – Monaco Grand Prix – Monaco – 28/5/16. Red Bull Racing F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo (R) celebrates pole position with Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg (L) and Lewis Hamilton.
Photo: Reuters

A big loss, health or private issues, a career-threatening injury, personal problems or absence of love for the sport? Nope. None of these factors played a part. Rosberg said in a Facebook post that he would retire when he was the alpha-male in the game. He was voted by many as the best driver of the season along with the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso.

F1 has had some unique characters in the past. Niki Lauda retired with two titles and came back to win another. Michael Schumacher left and came back but couldn’t fight his way past the younger and more flexible drivers like Alonso, Vettel, Button and Hamilton. Rosberg has no plans whatsoever to return to F1 – a decision which has left some in Mercedes (including Lauda) baffled and some like Hamilton are ‘not surprised’.

The future? Vettel has ruled himself out. Alonso is Toto Wolff’s ideal pick. Valtteri Bottas is managed by Toto Wolff also but again, like the Ferrari pair, is under contract at Williams.

Sebastian Vettel poses with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas after qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Photo: Reuters

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have a perfectly good thing going as the duo which genuinely troubled Lewis and Nico in 2016. Mercedes plans to play it safe and get an experienced, expressive, and a technically solid driver to show up as Hamilton’s ‘equal’ who has promised to maintain his ‘take no prisoners’ approach if it is Mercedes versus Mercedes at every lap.

Alonso and Hamilton’s destructive partnership cost them the 2007 title to Kimi Raikkonen as they missed out by just one point.

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, the 2007 world championships.
Photo: Reuters

The 27-year-old, Finn Valtteri Bottas, is the perfect driver to pair up with the larger-than-life Lewis Hamilton. He’s consistent and struggles with the same mechanical and tactical errors that Hamilton does. He doesn’t take unnecessary risks and is patient with team building and odd disappointments. Bottas is a likable team-player, something that Hamilton may never become, according to his critics.

The 2017 F1 pre-season might reveal more but Mercedes has a big appointment to make before Christmas as they look for a new partner for Hamilton.

Husnain Ali

Husnain Ali

The author is about to finish his bachelors and loves reading and talking about sports.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.