Nico’s what?? Retired you say?

By on Sunday, July 3, 2016

Nico Rosberg 2016 World Championship Victory Behind-the-Scenes Imagery

On Friday afternoon the Formula 1 world was stunned by the news that newly crowned World Champion Nico Rosberg announced he is to retire with immediate effect. This news came as a shock; however, after an afternoon digesting it, I understand his decision.

Firstly, he is the World Champion, and nobody can say he doesn’t deserve it. He arrived in Formula 1 fresh faced in 2006, driving for Williams. This Championship victory has been a decade in the making. Announcing his retirement, Nico Rosberg mentioned the commitment, and his gratitude towards his family for supporting him. But recently Nico himself has become a father.

This alone is enough for any man to focus more on family time at home. But Formula 1in 2017 will look very different indeed with a vast array of regulation changes. Will Mercedes enjoy the dominance they have in recent years? Possibly not. The chances for Rosberg to win another title would be slim to say the least. Lewis Hamilton was seemingly determined to ruin Romberg’s chances of the title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

His tactics were questionable to some, but in reality any driver would have done the same. With the crash helmet on behind the wheel, only you as a drive matter, not your teammate or anyone else on grid. But Hamilton made no effort to hide his disappointment or frustration in the podium celebrations. A rather forced handshake added with a smile was all Nico appeared to get from his former friend and teammate. He admitted that the 2016 season was “so damn tough.” He went onto say he “pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointment of the last two years”. With a friendship in tatters, a ruthless, somewhat unpredictable teammate and the possibility of the Mercedes dominance dwindling, this was enough for Nico to say goodbye aged just 31. But away from Formula 1, he has much more important things to focus on.

His wife Viviene and his young daughter are now his sole focus in life, this retirement has come at the perfect time. He walks away from Formula 1 as the World Champion, looking forward to a quiet family life as a husband and father. There is no better feeling in the world than becoming a father, Nico deserves the highest respected for this brave decision.

He’s a class act, and his approach in life should inspire, and some current drivers could really do with taking a leaf out of his book. I wish you well Nico in your retirement, you’ve been a fantastic member of the Formula 1 family and you will be missed. Take care.

So the big question, who replaces him?

Let’s get the fantasies out of the way first. We’d all love to see Alonso or maybe Vettel in the Mercedes. Either driver alongside Hamilton would make for an interesting season. Alonso perhaps more-so given their history at McLaren in 2007. Is this a possibility? Well, maybe yes.

Vettel isn’t exactly happy at Ferrari; the Red Bull’s outperformed them consistently this year. As for Alonso, its all change at McLaren, Honda doesn’t appear to have made much improvement, and time is against him in his career. If Mercedes could tempt one of these drivers out of their current contracts, it would make for fascinating racing next year. But the reality is it’s rather unlikely.

So who then? My money would be on either Pascal Wehrlein, or an outside chance on Valtteri Bottas. Wehrlein, a young German and a Mercedes development driver has to be the favourite. And if he gets the seat, he deserves it, and it’ll be exciting to see how he goes in a top team, dealing with the added pressures and responsibilities. It would be a great story too for the German fans and media.

Time will tell, but I think we’ll know before Christmas. Have a great Christmas, and here’s to Formula 1 in 2017.

Tom Wilkinson

Twitter @TomWilkinsonF1

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