Z admittedly, we first had to gather for a few days. Nico Rosberg resigns. As a freshly baked world champion. That sat. Anyone who says he expected it this way is lying to himself. Although psycho-analysts might have discovered the first clues on the Sunday after the race. At first Rosberg was devastated because the mental stress of the last race and the worry of losing everything in the end had drained him mentally. Then he celebrated like no other world champion in a long time.
Of all people, Rosberg, who usually has himself so well under control. Shouldn't we all have thought about that already? Perhaps. Between exhaustion and partying, he said that he had achieved his great goal, but that it also cost him an infinite amount of work and sacrifice. Another sign. But that evening we all listened away. He also said that he did not yet know whether he would compete with starting number 1 or 6 in 2017. When he announced his resignation five days later, we were all stunned.
Rosberg and Hawthorn
The reactions fluctuate between admiration and criticism. Admiration for so much consistency. After all, Rosberg shoots around 50 million euros for two more years at Mercedes in the wind. You really have to be convinced of the resignation. Very few manage to let go at the climax. Because after reaching the goal everything becomes easier. You're already world champion. You have the label that sets you apart from normal racing drivers. You are no longer questioned and you no longer have to prove anything. You walk through the paddock and people say “Champion” to you.
Jackie Stewart and Alain Prost have also stepped down as world champions. But one did it three times, the other four times. Stewart had 1,000 good reasons to hang up his helmet. In its day, motorsport was still Russian roulette. Alain Prost only came back with Williams for one year from the start. Because he saw in it the golden chance to beat the archenemy Ayrton Senna again with a vastly superior car. The Frenchman did not want to face another confrontation in the same team.
So Rosberg's resignation can best be compared to Mike Hawthorn's 1958. The Englishman said goodbye with the words: “It was my goal to become the first English Formula 1 world champion. That haveI achieved. There's nothing left to do. ”Doesn't that sound a bit like Rosberg? Not quite. Hawthorn drove at a dangerous time. Within a year and a half, four colleagues and friends, Eugenio Castellotti, Luigi Musso, Peter Collins and Stuart Lewis-Evens, had died. And his own lifetime was limited because of a severe kidney disease.
The diploma is done. Why a second?
Still, Hawthorn already knew what he would do when he stopped racing. He was supposed to take over his father's car garage. It didn't come to that. Three months after winning the title, Hawthorn was killed in a road accident.
Rosberg still leaves the future open. He can too. He earned enough. But you can't imagine the champion doing nothing. However, I don't think he'll return to motorsport in any other role. Not at all as a driver. But he lacks the stable smell and the absolute passion for this sport. If he had, he would have continued. Unlike his father, Nico Rosberg never looked like a racer. For him, calculation was the trump card, not the heart. Don't get me wrong: Rosberg liked to drive fast. But somehow it was a means to an end.
This is how you have to understand his resignation. He gave everything, sacrificed everything, renounced a lot in order to achieve this one goal. Just as a student gets his diploma, a researcher gets his doctorate. Now he has the title. What should he do with a second one? Rosberg is smart enough to realize that he is unlikely to win another title. Because it would have meant more sacrifices, more work, more sacrifices. And after 206 Grand Prix and 11 years in Formula 1, he didn't want that anymore. This is where others have arrived too. But only after their third, fourth or seventh world title.
Lewis Hamilton was now forewarned. He knows that his natural talent alone is no longer enough to defeat this Rosberg. If the world champion had stayed, Hamilton would have picked up where he left off.At a level where it can hardly be beaten. In addition, there may be completely different opponents in 2017 because the new regulations may reduce Mercedes' lead. Rosberg knows very well that Ricciardo, Verstappen, Vettel and Alonso can be as good as Hamilton if they just sit in the right car.
What do you want with a world champion who doesn't drive?
For me, the 23-time GP winner would not have recovered from the low blow of a defeat. Not after he was so close. Without wanting to, Rosberg also said why in his declaration of resignation. Because he didn't want that much effort into the World Cup company again. If he had lost, he would have had to increase his stakes again, with the vague prospect that an opportunity like the one in Abu Dhabi might never come again. It was amazing how Rosberg turned things around after the defeat in 2015. A second time, under much more difficult circumstances, that would hardly have been possible.
Gerhard Berger admires the courage of the decision ( Article ). He is right. It may have been easy for Rosberg himself to draw a line. But the 31-year-old German also knew which rat tail depends on such a decision. So it wasn't an easy step. Mercedes and the sponsors can hardly market it now. What do you want with a world champion who doesn't drive?
And Mercedes has to occupy a cockpit. At a time when all top drivers are already tied. Ahead of a season that will be more difficult for Mercedes than the three before, because the opponents on the engine side are constantly catching up and new aerodynamic rules are setting the clock to zero for everyone. In 2017, the cars will change so much during the season than ever before, because everyone is looking for the new limits. You need drivers with experience. Drivers like Rosberg.
And you need someone who drives Hamilton. The Hamilton of the last six races is the product of the duel with Rosberg. If someone drives next to the Englishman who is on average eight tenths slower, he may fall asleep again. Apart from the fact that it is also about the Constructors' Championship. And Mercedes is racing against teams that have an excellent team.
In the last few days, Mercedes has received a lot of good advice. Take Vettel, Alonso or Hulkenberg. They are all under contract. And why should an opponent of all people give up a driver voluntarily, if this is what makes him?goes into the same emergency that Mercedes is now in?
For Pascal Wehrlein it is a unique opportunity. One that racing drivers shouldn't even dream of because it's too beautiful to be true. In the second year in the world championship team. But the task also has a catch. Wehrlein will have to put on Rosberg's shoes immediately. And they're pretty big.