Nico Rosberg retires from Formula 1
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Nico Rosberg has stunned the motorsports world by announcing his retirement with immediate effect.
The new Formula 1 world champion made the announcement ahead of his coronation at the FIA's annual prize giving ceremony, held this year in Vienna, Austria.
Rosberg conceded he had been mulling the idea of retiring as world champion as far back as the Japanese Grand Prix, but only made a final decision a day after the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
"After reflecting for a day, the first people I told were Vivian and Georg (Nolte, from Nico's management team), followed by Toto (Wolff, Mercedes team chief)," Rosberg said.
Rosberg's decision puts the Mercedes team in an awkward position; it now has to fill a vacancy in one of the best cars on the grid after most of the top line drivers have been signed. They do have a stable of junior drivers, including newly signed Force India driver Esteban Ocon and Manor's pascal Wehrlein.
"Toto understood," Rosberg said.
"He knew straight away that I was completely convinced and that reassured me.
"My proudest achievement in racing will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people, the Silver Arrows."
Nico Rosberg talks about winning Drivers Championship
Rosberg began his F1 career in 2006 with Williams, moving to Mercedes in 2010 where he joined a returning Michael Schumacher.
Rosberg claimed the first of 23 Grand Prix wins in China in 2012, the same weekend he notched up the first of 30 pole positions.
His greatest successes came as F1 entered its hybrid power era, Mercedes developing the dominant car and engine package.
Rosberg narrowly lost the title to teammate Lewis Hamilton in both 2014 and 2015, before finally claiming the world championship this year, he and dad Keke becoming the second father and son duo to be crowned as world champions.
His crowning race, Abu Dhabi, will now go in the history books as his 206th and last race.
ROSBERG'S FULL STATEMENT
"Since 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my 'one thing' to become Formula One World Champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target. And now I've made it. I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right. My strongest emotion right now is deep gratitude to everybody who supported me to make that dream happen.
"This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough. I pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last two years; they fuelled my motivation to levels I had never experienced before. And of course that had an impact on the ones I love, too - it was a whole family effort of sacrifice, putting everything behind our target. I cannot find enough words to thank my wife Vivian; she has been incredible. She understood that this year was the big one, our opportunity to do it, and created the space for me to get full recovery between every race, looking after our daughter each night, taking over when things got tough and putting ourchampionship first.
"When I won the race in Suzuka, from the moment when 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. 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, the first people I told were Vivian and Georg (Nolte, from Nico's management team), followed by Toto.
"The only thing that makes this decision in any way difficult for me is because I am putting my racing family into a toughsituation. But Toto understood. He knew straight away that I was completely convinced and that reassured me. My proudest achievement in racing will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people, the Silver Arrows.
"Now, I'm just here to enjoy the moment. There is time tosavour the next weeks, to reflect on the season and to enjoy every experience that comes my way. After that, I will turn the next corner in my life and see what it has in store for me ..."