Maybe you’ve heard, but only 5 days after winning his only F1 World Championship Nico Rosberg retired. While it was generally met with congratulatory messages, not all were pleased with the German’s decision to walk away. In particular, some were not happy at all with Nico’s timing. Nico’s late announcement meant that all of the potential replacement drivers had all but been locked up for 2017, leaving Mercedes without many options. Mercedes team chairman, Niki Lauda pulled no punches when voicing his displeasure.
“After all, 1,200 people of the F1 division at Mercedes gave him every opportunity to become world champion with a super car. And then he gave us his resignation overnight. This lone decision of Nico’s — and I mean everyone at Brackley and with Mercedes and many people who have worked closely with him, his engineers and mechanics — has ripped a giant hole in this excellent working team.”
Say what you will about Nico’s reasoning, Lauda has a point. It is completely okay to retire. It’s Nico’s life to do with what he pleases. But if Mercedes had an idea to the potential retirement they could have covered themselves. Unfortunately they did not, and are now in a very difficult position when it comes to finding a quality replacement for Rosberg. The thing is, Nico doesn’t see it this way. In fact he thinks he did the team a favor by announcing his retirement when he did.
“I don’t understand what Niki was riding when he said that,” Rosberg said. “He must have misunderstood something. If it had only been up to me, I would rather have waited until Christmas to announce my retirement, but I didn’t want to do that to the team.”
You don’t understand Nico? It is fairly simple. F1 time for signing new drivers happens weeks before the final race of the season. This means that all of the free agents were signed prior to you winning your world Championship. Now your former team’s hands are tied. They can pay an enormous, knee quivering amount of money to pry a top-notch driver away from their current team. Were talking tens of millions of dollars just to get their driver of choice out of their current contract. Plus the actual contract itself. Best case scenario, Nico has cost Mercedes a mountain of cash that could have been avoided if he had just voiced his intentions earlier.
Mercedes only other option is to hire a relative unknown. This will save them the expense, but it also carries with it an inherent risk. Young, unproven drivers are less than ideal for a team whose sole purpose is to win the Constructors Championship. Young drivers tend to make mistakes It’s all a part of their learning curve. So even though Merc still has the championship favorite in Lewis Hamilton there would be genuine concern surrounding their number 2 driver.
Though, if I may suggest, I am confident this is the route Merc is going to be forced to take. They have a talented youngster in Pascal Wehrlein under contract. For at least 2017 I believe he will be the Mercedes #2.
But what about Nico? He has shown zero inclination that he will ever return to racing. Not in F1, or the WEC. Nowhere. Given the weirdness of this entire situation I am inclined to believe that we have seen the last of Nico Rosberg in competition and all indications point to him not caring in the slightest. He can sit here and say anything he wants, but I believe he wanted out ASAP. I don’t think he was ever comfortable with having Lewis as a teammate. I don’t think he ever fully trusted his team. If you hear him speak in interviews, on the team radio etc, his tone was always just that little bit agitated. It is difficult to explain but he always sounded like he was expecting bad news, expecting the team to tell him to let Lewis by. He was entirely too defensive, I don’t know if this was his own selfish paranoia or what but you could tell something was up with him.
“Fighting Lewis in the same car and losing twice was horrible. Disgusting,” Rosberg said. “I had to fight back again and again. Beating him is just exhausting. It sucks a lot out of you physically, but most of all mentally. I did mental training, started to meditate. In Japan, I met a Zen master before the race. I raised everything to the next level. Now I have reached my goal. Sure, I could have gone on, trying to defend the title. But why? It’s easy to want more, more, more, but you also have to be careful and not lose yourself as a person. For me there is nothing more than this title. I wanted it and I got it.”
Look, Nico is a weird dude. He hides it well, but there is something off about him. I can’t put my finger on it but that is the reason I was never his biggest fan. I mean Lauda had a legitimate point and a good reason to be upset. Yet, Nico didn’t see it that way. He did what’s best for Nico and how dare anyone see it otherwise. This is Niki Lauda were talking about here Nico. He is a Legend. He has done things Nico has done and now will never do. Lauda is one of the greatest drivers in F1 history. Nico, your championship will be a footnote, a blip on the story that was the Lewis/Vettel Era. Frankly I hope he enjoys his retirement but I for one will not miss him in the slightest next season. Leave racing for those who want to do it, who feel the fire to be the best.