Nico Rosberg A new-found freedom

2016 Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg talks about his decision to step down at the height of his fame, his life away from the grid and his relationship with Lewis Hamilton

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I announced my retirement in December 2016, just five days after becoming World Champion. Leaving Formula 1 was a massive risk for me, because I had no plan – no clue. My family was definitely a factor in my mind at the time, but the main one was just being entirely fulfilled as a result of my decision. I just did what I felt was right at the time. I took courage and followed my heart and it was telling me that this is the way and I can say for sure that it’s been the right thing for me.

Life now is very different.
In my racing days everything was organised for me and all I had to do was go from A to B and there was a whole machine that was tuned perfectly. Now I organise everything and I have to find discipline and routine from a blank sheet of paper. But at the same time having an absolute focus and routine is good for me and I will try and look for that again. The freedom is a great feeling and I enjoy being the boss of my calendar. I do quite like that feeling of having precise challenges and that’s something I want to build again in time. 

The most difficult thing is learning to replace the adrenalin and joy you share with the millions of people who watch you – emotionally connecting with fans and sharing your journey – it’s so powerful and a privilege to reach so many people with what you are doing. That was always going to be difficult to find in my next career. As human beings we are very addictive and we stick to norms, even though we want to jump out of them we don’t because it means discomfort or going into the unknown.

We are destined to never be satisfied.
This is how we are instinctively. Formula 1 is addictive in a similar way. You win one race and then you want to win two races, even though winning one race was your dream, it’s just never-ending. So I think setting goals can be helpful and sticking to these goals, to protect us from this desperation of always wanting more and never being satisfied. Not everybody listens to that switch when they have to change things. There’s no right or wrong, it depends entirely on personal choices, but if I can inspire some people with my choices that’s great - but that’s not why I made the decision to leave Formula 1 - I simply did it for myself and my family. Achieving my goal of being World Champion has been a great experience for me and I have no regrets whatsoever.

A lot has been made of my relationship with my teammate Lewis Hamilton. There was always a mutual relationship of respect, but it’s true it did become difficult. We would speak, but not always when there were difficult moments between us. Being a Formula 1 driver is quite isolating. Even if there’s a big team behind you, it’s one against one. It was tough having an internal team battle even though we were both on the same team. We were great friends 15 years ago and it would be nice to move back towards that again in the future.

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Nico Rosberg began championship kart racing at the age of ten and quickly progressed up the ranks. Continuing to progress, Nico joined the Williams Formula 1 Team, the same team which his father Keke had previously won the World Championship with. 2010 saw Nico join the Mercedes team and partner with seven-time champion Michael Schumacher. Two years later Nico earned his first Formula 1 victory at the Chinese GP. In 2016 Nico was crowned the Formula 1 World Champion at the last race of the year in Abu Dhabi.

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