What next for Merc as champ Ros­berg quits?

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

The new world cham­pion bows out of For­mula 1, leav­ing Mercedes with a seat to fill

Nico Ros­berg shocked both his own Mercedes team and the rest of For­mula 1 by an­nounc­ing his re­tire­ment just five days af­ter win­ning the world cham­pi­onship.

Ros­berg, 31, re­vealed he’d started to for­mu­late his de­ci­sion at the Ja­panese Grand Prix in Oc­to­ber, when his vic­tory put him in con­trol of the cham­pi­onship.

“When I won the race in Suzuka, from the mo­ment 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,” Ros­berg said. “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.”

He ex­plained that had he not won the ti­tle, he would have car­ried on com­pet­ing in F1. But hav­ing achieved his life­time’s am­bi­tion, he de­cided he had had enough.

“I gave it ev­ery­thing I had, didn’t leave a stone un­turned and I am not will­ing to do that again next year. Just fol­low­ing my heart. You only live once and this feels com­pletely right.”

Mercedes non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Niki Lauda, who fa­mously quit F1 for the first time in the mid­dle of a race week­end in Canada in 1979, be­fore re­turn­ing in 1982, said he had spo­ken to Ros­berg to make sure he was do­ing the right thing. “I was re­ally sur­prised; this was never on my radar that this could hap­pen,” Lauda said.

“I spoke to him af­ter­wards to find out be­cause I did this twice in my ca­reer and I re­ally wanted to make sure it was not a quick de­ci­sion, which he might re­gret, and I wanted to find out how sure he is. Of my ques­tion: ‘How sure are you?’ he said ‘1,000 per cent’. Then I knew that it is over – you can­not con­vince him any more.”

Ros­berg’s de­ci­sion to leave with two years still to run on a con­tract he signed in July puts Mercedes in the awk­ward sit­u­a­tion of hav­ing to find a team-mate for Hamil­ton when all the top driv­ers are un­der con­tract to other teams. Lauda said that “prac­ti­cally half the grid” had con­tacted Mercedes about the va­cancy, and among those are be­lieved to be both Fer­rari driver Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and McLaren’s Fer­nando Alonso.

Team boss Toto Wolff said: “We have three roads that we can fol­low. The first is to think about hav­ing a num­ber one and a num­ber two, a bit like Fer­rari at the time of Michael Schu­macher and Felipe Massa. We can take a driver who can guar­an­tee us points in the con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.