It’s going to be strange without a World Champion on the grid next year. It’s a scenario that’s only occurred a handful of times in the history of Formula One and Nico Rosberg’s retirement has thrown the sport into shock.
Racing drivers don’t just retire anymore. Especially not when they are seemingly at the peak. They strive for more success, living off of adrenaline for as long as they can. I think this tells us a lot about Nico as a driver and as a person.
Undoubtedly it fuels the debate on the quality of Nico as a driver. There are those who refuse to accept that his victory over Hamilton was down to him being a better driver. I’ve never head the term “mechanical problems” quite so much in my life. Rosberg’s retirement could send out a message to those doubters that he agrees with them, that he also believes that this perfect storm of consequences gifted him the title. He is a comprehensive individual, does he believe deep down that he will never again manage to beat his teammate?
I do not agree with his line of thought. Mechanical failures do not answer for Rosberg’s nine victories in 2016. Of the races where there were external factors for Hamilton;
– China 7th , Hamilton had a car failure which meant he could not set a time in qualifying.
– Baku 5th, Hamilton made a mistake in Q3 and struggled with software problems in the race.
– Malaysia DNF, Hamilton suffered an engine failure, Rosberg finished 3rd.
All other positive results for Nico were won on the track. For me poor starts are driver error, and do not constitute car faults.
As the world of Formula One begins to contemplate life without an incumbent World Champion on the grid – a situation we haven’t had since 1994 when Alain Prost retired after his final world title victory – the question that has to be asked is whether Rosberg is right to make such a decision.
It’s certainly a selfish one, but it’s his life and he has earned the right to be selfish. He has dedicated his life to become Formula One World Champion and now he has achieved that dream, why should he carry on? He has a young family who you can guarantee he has hardly seen this year, such was his level of focus and effort. Nico has highlighted in interviews since winning the title just how much of a family effort this season has been. The guy has earned a break.
That said, as a professional racing driver with an active contract to race next year – while we don’t know the precise make up of that contract, I doubt it will have contained any mention of retirement. Certainly judging from the team’s reaction, this was not on the cards – he owes it to his team to race again next season.
Not only due to the fact that he has now left them without a driver as yet for next season – not that they will struggle to fill the seat – but Mercedes have now lost their champion. You have to think that advertising brands would want to target the current Champion, and now that opportunity has gone.
Despite the lack of a defending champion, Formula One is in a healthy situation. Besides, Bernie Ecclestone has outright said that having Rosberg as Champion would be bad for the sport.
While Rosberg fans will miss him on the grid next year, it seems as though he will be quickly forgotten as the lights go out in Australia.