The world of sport and motor sports have been left in disbelief by the decision of newly-crowned Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg to retire at the age of 31.
Rosberg clinched the first world title of his 18-year career when he came second behind team-mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The German Mercedes driver, the son of Finnish 1982 Formula One world champion Keke Rosberg, announced his decision to end his career on social media via Facebook, before holding a press conference in the Austrian capital, Vienna.
The news was met with astonishment from most of his comtemporaries in Formula One, as well as stars from other sports who were quick to share their reactions.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff revealed he had not tried to talk the star driver out of retirement when Rosberg gave him the news.
“This is a brave decision by Nico and testament to the strength of his character,” Wolff said in a team statement.
“He has chosen to leave at the pinnacle of his career, as world champion, having achieved his childhood dream.
“The clarity of his judgement meant I accepted his decision straight away when he told me.”
His rival Hamilton was one of the few not to express surprise at the announcement.
“This is the first time he’s won (a title) in 18 years, hence why it was not a surprise that he decided to stop,” the triple world champion told reporters ahead of the governing FIA’s gala prize-giving in Vienna.
“He’s also got a family to focus on, and wants more children, and Formula One takes so much of your time. Will I miss the rivalry? Of course.”
Contemporaries respect Rosberg’s call
Among his fellow current and former F1 drivers, there was only respect for his decision.
British 1996 Formula One world champion Damon Hill said that the news capped off an incredible 2016.
“Well its been quite a year. Brexit, Trump, and now @nico_rosberg calls it a day. Frankly, I’m stunned. But I know the toll of this game #F1,” Hill tweeted.
Another Briton to win the world title, Nigel Mansell, praised Rosberg but questioned what it would mean for his team of Mercedes.
“Nico what a brave very brave decision, he has some very powerful reasons I am sure. Brilliant World Champion. Very interesting for Merc now,” Mansell posted on Twitter.
Current Force India driver Sergio Perez, tweeted: “Definitely a great Champion!!!! Big admiration”.
Another active driver on the Formula One circuit, Haas’s Romain Grosjean, posted: “Respect my friend! @nico_rosberg”.
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said even he had not known about the decision before the announcement.
Ecclestone took a light-hearted view of the decision, saying: “He (Rosberg) needs more time to spend his money, that’s all!”.
Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt also weighed in on Rosberg’s decision.
Bolt, who is himself eyeing retirement at the end of 2017 following a glittering athletics career, said he was surprised by the news.
“I can’t really understand it but everybody has their reasons, I guess he felt like he’s got what he wanted,” Bolt told reporters in Monaco ahead of the athlete of the year awards.
“When you get where you want to be, if you accomplish your goal, I guess there’s no reason to keep going.”
ABC / Reuters
Article source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-03/sporting-world-stunned-by-f1-world-champ-rosbergs-retirement/8089682