Nico Rosberg shocks fans by announcing retirement after beating Lewis Hamilton to F1 title
Nico Rosberg has shocked the F1 world after he announced he is retiring from Formula 1, just days after winning the world championship.
The Mercedes driver revealed the shock news at the FIA world champions gala in Vienna where he was collecting his trophy.
He said: "For me it is a very special day to receive the trophy this evening is going to be amazing but for another reason: I want to take the opportunity to announce to end F1 career.
"It has been every since I started since six-year old I had a clear dream. That was to become F1 world champion and it was very clear in my mind, whatever I could think, I have achieved it, put everything into it and put everything into it, - help of fans, managed to achieve it. I will remember forever."
In a message to to fans on Facebook, the German driver said: "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."
He added: “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."
Read the full message here:
Team boss Toto Wolff said it was a "brave" decision by Rosberg, but says: "The clarity of his judgement meant I accepted his decision straight away when he told me."
The move came as a complete shock to Wolff and the Mercedes team management.
"For the team this is an unexpected situation, but also an exciting one," he said.
— Jennie Gow (@JennieGow) December 2, 2016
Thoughts will now turn to who will replace Rosberg in the second Merc seat alongside Lewis Hamilton.
Young drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon are both within the Mercedes stable, and both have F1 experience after racing for the Manor team this season, but Frenchman Ocon has already signed for Force India for next season.
But if the Silver Arrows chiefs want more experience, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa could step in. Massa is a free agent having retired from Williams while Button is technically still contracted to McLaren but is not driving next season and a deal could surely be done.
Valtteri Bottas could be another option, although he has one year left on his Williams deal.
If Mercedes really wanted to make a statement they could try to prise Fernando Alonso from McLaren.
New boy Max Verstappen is on an air-tight deal at Red Bull, so is unlikely to figure.