HOW-TO Guide From Rosberg’s Path To F1 Champion
If you are getting sick of seeing a Mercedes F1 1-2, this video is for you. In this Formula 1 original content video, we’ll explore Nico Rosberg’s Journey to become Formula 1 Champion as a reminder that it IS POSSIBLE. You can find other stories about Formula 1’s biggest controversies on the story based F1 playlist.
You can also view the full, complete transcript of the entire 28 minute run time below.
Time Stamps to the video below:
- Hamilton & Nico Join Forces: 1:42
- Kart Days: 4:10
- Their First World Title Battle: 5:38
- Friends Turned Rivals: 8:27
- Super Seb: 8:35
- A Friendship Fractured: 10:35
- The Spiteful Puncture: 13:01
- NICO 2.0: 15:35
- The Original Double DNF: 16:10
- The Rivalry Spills Over In Austria: 17:35
- The 2016 Title Finale: 21:25
- Did Nico Run? 24:12
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Lessons Learned From Nico Rosberg Becoming F1 Champion [Transcript]
When you think of Formula 1 rivalries, a couple names come to mind, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, Niki Lauda and James Hunt, Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet. But of the most recent era, one of the main rivalries that still stands out is Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Most people know the stories and the careers of both drivers.
Nico Rosberg, son of 1982 Formula 1 champion Keke Rosberg lived a much different life and upbringing than Lewis Hamilton, but both are very successful and both drivers ended up winning the GP2 Series with Nico Rosberg taking the 2005 titlem graduating onto Williams F1, while Hamilton Shared a GP2 title with Rosberg but this time in 2006, the start of their Formula 1 careers would look much different. Nico had an opportunity to step into F1, but with the declining Williams F1 team, Rosberg retired from 50% of the races that he ran in for that 2006 inaugural F1 season garnering a mere four points, but it wasn’t all bad for Rosberg as he was naturally talented and a gifted driver. In those next 3 seasons, he finished 2 of them in the top 10. He received the call in 2010 from then Mercedes GP Petronas F1 team that he was gonna be paired with none other than Michael Schumacher. A young Rosberg was hardly fazed by the task he comes up for it, and not only that, he took it to Schumacher. This time paired with Michael taught him a lot despite only winning one Grand Prix, the Chinese Grand Prix of 2012 while paired with Michael. It was clear that, Rosberg, if given the right car, could be Formula 1 champion. Mental strength, fortitude, resiliency, these were all traits that he was forced to fine-tune before they enter the hybrid era, and you would need all of them in the highest order because by the time 2013 came around, he was gonna be paired but this time with the very familiar face, Lewis Hamilton.
It’s almost impossible to ignore Lewis Hamilton’s entrance into Formula 1 as he won the GP2 Series in 2006, but unlike Rosberg, Hamilton was fortunate enough to parachute into a championship winning car next to reigning back-to-back world champion Fernando Alonso, and like Rosberg, Hamilton did not shy away from this task. Despite the controversial things that occurred during the 2007 season, especially regarding McLaren, Lewis Hamilton was able to beat the double world champion Alonso on countback and lose by just a single point to Kimi Raikkonen. And of course, when I say controversial, I’m talking about none other than Spygate which I’ve covered in detail and made a video about. So, if you like to check that out, go ahead and see it after this video. I’ll put the link down in the description. His experience only seem to make him stronger, and he ended up winning the championship in 2008. And finally, after years of being plagued by team issues, reliability, problems above all, it was time he moved on. And this is one of the focal points of this entire story, the collision of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
These two have a lot in common. They are relatively the same age. Both of them have faced off and gotten the better of all time legends in Formula 1. Both of them used their GP2 championship as springboards into their F1 career. But there’s also some things that they don’t share. Their battles in the early stages of their Formula 1 career are really important to contrast as we think about the rest of the story and why things occur.
Nico wasn’t put in a championship-winning car. That’s nothing to say or take away from Lewis. It’s just a simple fact. He wasn’t competing for race wins or title in 2006. And over the years, Rosberg earned his way into a car that was capable of race wins. And upon Lewis’ arrival, Mercedes was ushering in the hybrid era, one they have been prepared for, an era in regulations that they had been building a car around. Having accomplished so many things in his racing career already, Rosberg still had a championship to win, but now, he was introduced to a new opportunity, one major thing to cross off his list, beat Lewis Hamilton. And sure, Hamilton’s rookie campaign was already heralded as one of the best we’ve ever seen. His 2008 title also propelled him to fame. But beyond that, was caught in a circular loop of reliability issues with the McLaren car. He was also swimming upstream against Adrian Newey’s monster of a car that Sebastian Vettel was driving around from 2010 to 2013 where he claimed back to back to back to back titles with the Red Bull. So, Hamilton was exiting a situation that was filled with frustration. He made the move from McLaren to Mercedes out of wanting more, wanting better. So, while the allure of knocking off a second world champion would’ve been nice for Nico Rosberg, it was much deeper than that because what many don’t know, and this is not the first time that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have faced off. And this is definitely not the first time it has gotten intense. To add a layer to this rivalry, and to really understand how deep this goes, we have to go back all the way to the year 2000. It was then that the boys would both be introduced and be managed by Dino Chiesa, the Italian motorsport icon.
At the urging of Keke Rosberg and a couple others, they decided to form one team, one small team with both Nico and Lewis Hamilton on it, a power team if you will. Chiesa ran CRG at the time, and Nico would race for them in 1998 and 1999. The team would become known as the Mercedes Benz-McLaren team. But it was still a full-on factory CRG operation. Chiesa, Keke, Nico, no one really knew anything about Lewis Hamilton at the time. In an interview, Chiesa looked back on this moment and recalled thinking, “We didn’t know much about him. We knew that he was already under McLaren’s wing, that he did well in English championships, that he was obviously talented, but we had never seen him at the track because he hadn’t yet come to Europe.” He went on to say, “He had no problem getting speed in any race with any material. Sometimes, he didn’t have the best material, but being only 2 tenths off because of the material, he would still manage to win the race.” Even as kids, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were fiercely competitive at everything, not just racing.
Over the couple years that the two were paired together on the MBM team, they faced off in Super Formula A, as Lewis Hamilton easily took the title winning five of the eight races. One of the moments that stood out when their youth rivalry was the Formula A Karting World Cup held at the Suzuka Circuit. You can see a young Rosberg and a young Nico actually give pre-interviews and you can see their on-track battles. But Lewis wasn’t just beating Nico. No, he was beating people like Spangler, Mike Conway, and even Robert Kubica was in the field that day. And while some people may hear that and think, “Well, it was only two seasons. How close can they get?” This isn’t the typical team, and these aren’t the typical drivers. They’re traveling around together. They’re racing an international Grand Prix. Their fathers are becoming close. They have to use the same transportation vehicles. It’s not as if they had separate amenities or even rooms. This is still a shoestring budget for all the backing they have.
Dino recalls many moments in which they were just kids. While hypercompetitive with each other, they took it to a new level, but they were still just kids. Many nights they would break things, rarely they slept. They would sleep in the same room. They were, in a sense, best friends. So, imagine having all the luxuries of a normal childhood friendship, but at the same time, competing at the very highest of levels under the extreme circumstances, to be around that person almost 24 hours a day for 2 years straight. As you’re forming who you are and who you become, and you’re making the friendships that last.
So, imagine being Nico at that time, being the son of a Formula 1 champion, getting used to consistently beating your competition. Then all of a sudden comes this driver, this kid who’s recommended to be paired with you you don’t know anything about but is backed by McLaren, and a driver that comes from nothing, has a wildly different upbringing than you. And arguably for the first time in Nico’s young career, he’s outmatched. There’s nothing he can do about it except keep competing, doing the best he can, but has to watch Lewis beat him in the same technology, equal machinery. Even all the way back from their karting days, it was pretty obvious that Lewis was the quicker driver. But Nico did make effective use of what he had to work with and what was around him. That’s what made him so talented was he was smart with how he operated the car, how he maneuvered the vehicle. Obviously, he was naturally gifted. There’s no question about that. But being paired next to just a younger version of the reigning world champion we have today, the differences in any driver would be palpable. And similar to what would soon resemble their adult fight on the track, even as kids in karts, Nico still knew the buttons to push. He still knew that, well, if he’s gonna beat me on the track, there are certain things that he can do to overcome Lewis’ just natural talent.
At each stage in a young driver’s career, they have to harness some of these skills. They have to hone these and use them at a later date, just them to the toolkit. This particular set of skills that Nico gathered in 2000 and 2001 racing with Hamilton at the MBM team, these were some that he might not have used immediately, but he certainly was going to after Lewis joined the team in 2013. Both of these young stars graduate on from the MBM team and moved into cars. They go their separate ways and have closed the books on being teammates together, but not for the last time.
We fast-forward to 2013. And while the Silver Arrows were ready for the new regulation change in 2014 and the switch to turbo hybrid engines, they still had to deal with Sebastian Vettel. Coincidentally, this would be the only year that Nico Rosberg would pull in more wins than Lewis Hamilton as he got two that year versus Lewis Hamilton’s one. And as we saw over the lifespan of the duo battling, there would be a direct relationship between controversy and competitiveness of the car. Really the only thing worth noting in 2013 that occurred which may have been a sign of things to come was the team were given to Nico Rosberg in Malaysia, it was obvious that that triggered something. They had gone all year without something like that happening, and it brought back all of those emotions from their childhood karting years. Two immensely talented and competitive people, now one looks like it’s getting favorability over the other. Essentially, the garage saying, you are better, you are faster, but that would be stowed away because of the Multi 21 saga that would occur at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2013. It would not take very long at all for things to come up, yet again. In this time, they’d be here to stay.
As anticipated, they begin the 2014 season well ahead of the competition, taking dominant wins at the Malaysian Grand Prix and the Australian Grand Prix. The two had their first wheel-to-wheel on-fight battle at the Bahrain Grand Prix. With Hamilton leading Rosberg, there was a late safety car. But Hamilton was able to hold off Rosberg until the end of the race. At this point, there’s clear signs that they respect each other’s space. It was a good hard battle. Hamilton took the victory. Nico had a shot, but for now, it showed the team and the world that they could fight wheel-to-wheel and not make contact. For now. A similar story was emerging at the Spanish Grand Prix and what would likely be a trend for the two would find each other on track towards the end of the race. Rosberg was coming on strong at the end of the Grand Prix but Hamilton was able to defend him. And it’s worth noting here that not only in Spain but in Bahrain, both of the drivers each use engine modes that were banned by Mercedes. In Nico’s case, it was to advance onto Hamilton in Bahrain and at the Spanish Grand Prix for Hamilton, it was to defend Nico. And while a minor sequence in this entire overall story, it is important to note because it shows that the drivers will disobey the team and what’s mandated by the team in order to get what they want. And if we weren’t really sure how the two were going to get on for the rest of the season, the Monaco Grand Prix said everything.
Hamilton had been faster all weekend long. So, by the time qualifying came, he was fairly confident he was gonna on pole on Monaco which as you know was everything. Going into the second run of the qualifying session, Rosberg was sitting on provisional pole at the time. Rosberg being in front of Hamilton still in what appears to be an attempt to not have his car bottom out moved a little bit to the right and end up having to run deep into Mirabeau. You can see clearly, he has a lock-up on his front right. So, instead of trying to make that turn and risking hitting his front left into that barrier, he just takes a slip road. For whatever it’s worth, the stewards did clear Rosberg of any wrongdoing in the situation. But when asked about this, Hamilton still had his doubts. As a response to being asked if Rosberg did this on purpose, he was quoted as saying, “Potentially, I should’ve known this was going to happen.
Hamilton’s Race Engineer: yellow, yellow, turn five. Yellow, yellow turn five.
Hamilton: “That was very good of him.”
There are many times in which the two almost came together a couple Grand Prix ago, but this is the one…this one right here in 2014 at Monaco, this is the one that really broke their relationship. And Lewis even went as far as to say they’re not even friends anymore after the race because no matter where you land on this, in one situation, Rosberg is so petty that he’s willing to ruin his teammate’s lap and fully commit to the scheme so that it looks pretty realistic or he genuinely made a mistake. It really does look that way. So now, alternatively, try to imagine you’re Nico Rosberg and you have your teammate, one of your closest friends, he’s actually on public TV questioning whether he thought he did this on purpose, thinking he’s capable of that. That’s got to hurt too, equally.
More controversy ensued at the Hungarian Grand Prix where Nico Rosberg actually qualified on pole while his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, was forced to start from the back of the grid after some reliability issues that he experienced in the qualifying session. And while Lewis was doing a good job fighting through the pact after starting from the back, a safety car brought the two together. And as Nico started to close up on Hamilton, it was pretty clear that he was either going to get stuck behind Hamilton fighting him in equal machinery which was gonna be tough, or Hamilton was gonna have to let him through. The team ultimately decided to ask Hamilton to let Rosberg through but considering the fact that they’re on totally different strategies and this is his main rival, Lewis decided not to obey that order. Their positions held as such and Lewis made the final round of the podium, and Nico Rosberg fell in fourth. And this was another big moment in their relationship because while only three points separated P3 and P4 in this situation, this took Nico Rosberg to 202 points to Lewis Hamilton’s 191. So, while those three points weren’t make or break necessarily, they were a pretty big scar on an already declining relationship between the two.
Naturally, the only thing that’s perfect right now would be another wheel-to-wheel battle, [inaudible 00:13:05] no less. The two made contact at Le Combs in an overtaking attempt, Hamilton was left through a puncture and Rosberg was left through the broken front of wing. But he went on to finish the race and take P2 no less, putting him 29 points clear of Hamilton in the driver’s championship that year. But as far as Lewis’ driving goes, this ultimately may have been good for him as it certainly will come up if you look at his results throughout the rest of the 2014 season. Lewis would go on to win 6 of the next seven races with Mercedes having a one-two finish in the next six races aside from that DNF in Singapore. He would only be denied in Brazil where Rosberg needed that win to keep himself alive mathematically in the championship. But by then, Lewis had all the momentum and 17 points clear of Rosberg in the driver’s championship at 334 versus 317 for Nico. Hamilton’s win in Abu Dhabi was the final bookend on a tumultuous season between the Silver Arrows.
Hopefully, they’d be able to turn this around. But as we see in all of these great rivalries, things tend to intensify before they deescalate. But the intensity of the rivalry did seem to dampen a little bit, not because the two got along better or worked it out, simply because Lewis dominated the 2015 season. To put in perspective, both of them were on the podium all the way up until the Hungarian Grand Prix where both of them fell off, Lewis in sixth, Rosberg in eighth.
Up to that Grand Prix, Hamilton recorded five victories with only won third place the rest second place. Nico Rosberg on the other hand had recorded three victories with three third place finishes. Really, there was no action between the two that was note worthy until they actually got to the race ironically that Lewis clenched the championship. Going into the United States Grand Prix, Hamilton knew that he had to outright win that race in order to clench the title right then and there. So, naturally, Nico wasn’t gonna make it easy for him. He ended up taking pole. The two would meet at turn one where Nico felt that Hamilton pushed him wide. Nonetheless, Hamilton went on to take the position and never looked back, claiming the victory and also the championship.
After the Grand Prix, famously, we have the hat thrown in the cool down room where Hamilton tosses the hat over to Rosberg and Rosberg, with the cameras on him, pitches it right back over to Lewis. I’m not going to lie, if I’m Rosberg right there, can’t really blame him. And to check in on the rivalry, let’s actually look at the numbers. Hamilton at this point through the 2015 season has 23 wins, 21 poles, 954 points, and 2 titles. Compare that to his long-time rival, 12 wins, 23 poles, 810 points, zero titles. At some point, Nico has to be fed up with this. And it turns out, 2015, that blow-out win by Hamilton, that’s what woke him up.
In the 2016 season there’s a new Nico Rosberg. We kick off round one in Australia with a pretty sizable win by Nico, but it doesn’t stop here. He’s unrelenting and takes four out of the first four races whereas his teammate, rival, long-time childhood friend, and reigning the world champion is able to find the podium three out of those four times and gets a seven-place finish at China. With Rosberg seemingly commanding the championship race, having all of the momentum taking his first-ever grand [inaudible 00:16:06] in Russia, Lewis really has no answer for him.
Tensions are certainly at an all-time high as the championship enters the European rounds and we go to the Spanish Grand Prix. And it is here where we have one of the most memorable teammate collisions in the history of Formula 1, certainly in the modern era. With Hamilton on pole, the race gets off clean as both of the drivers get off to a relatively good start.
By the time they hit turn three, it appears that Nico might have a slight problem.
Nico: “That was an incorrect engine setting, so I was down in power. So, Lewis closed in and I saw him coming so I closed the door, you know, to defend my position because that was my race to win.”
His car appears noticeably slower. Lewis feels justified in an overtake and goes for it. Rosberg pushes him wide into the grass where he loses control. He clips Rosberg and knocks both of them out of the race. Naturally, both drivers laid blame at the feet of the other driver, but the stewards decide that it’s just a racing incident. The double DNF kept the margin stagnant, and Lewis claimed that it didn’t really harm their relationship. And many took this to mean that Lewis was actually saying, really can’t get any worse than this. After 2014, things had soured so much that what more could a double DNF already do to their damaged relationship. And to his credit, Toto Wolff decided to remain steadfast to the fact that he was not gonna make any sort of team order calls, even if that meant that they were gonna keep touching.
Toto After The Incident: “It is definitely not the 100% fault and zero for the other. And that’s why I wouldn’t want to attribute any blame to each of them.”
But we’ll see how long that lasts because before long, they’re back at it again, touching in a little bit more dramatic fashion. We’re talking, of course, about the Austrian Grand Prix. Headed into the race, Lewis had cut the lead down to under one race win. He continued this momentum and took pole position with his teammate joining him with a front row lockout for Mercedes. But the incident wouldn’t occur until the final stages of the race. In an effort to defend off Lewis Hamilton who was advancing and charging, Lewis saw an opportunity to make a pass, move to the outside. And by his own account, Rosberg, in an effort to defend his position, made a late turn so Lewis would have to be forced wide. But track position favored Hamilton. And despite them touching, Hamilton did get clear, go on and win the race while Nico was forced to limp back with a damaged front wing. For the incident, Rosberg was given a 10-second time penalty after the race and also 2 points were added to his license. It became clear though that nothing was gonna stop Lewis. Ever since the double DNF at Spain, Lewis won starting in Monaco six of the next seven Grand Prix. But Nico returns a favor and he seems to find a little bit of pace of his own and goes on his own little hot streak. The return to the scene of the incident at the Belgian Grand Prix from 2015, but this time, Nico uses that as his platform to launch his counter-attack as he wins back to back to back, a three peat of race wins. The streak was only broken by a hectic Malaysian Grand Prix. It’s a year that Hamilton has a critical DNF and loses an engine with only 16 laps remaining, whereas Nico Rosberg goes on to finish third. And with that, Rosberg’s 3 and Mercedes’ 10-win streak is snapped.
And with about 3/4 of the schedule in the books, we enter the final stages of the championship race. And with Rosberg’s advantage extended to 23 points, it still feels like Hamilton was able to successfully hit the reset button on the momentum swing. It felt like whoever walked away with a better result leaving the Japanese Grand Prix, they would have the edge in taking the championship that season. And for that race, Nico was on form as he took pole and ultimately the race win. After Hamilton’s devastating DNF in Malaysia, he really needed to put a race together, a full race, but he was unable to produce that in Japan. Despite joining his teammate on the front row in second, he dropped all the way back to eighth by the end of the first lap. He was able to recover back to get on the podium, but Rosberg had already clinched a back-breaking win in Japan.
The good news though for Mercedes as a whole was they claimed a championship in the constructor’s race but that seems secondary to the driver title. There were just four races left, and Hamilton found himself 33 points behind Rosberg. There were a number of mathematical situations that made it possible for Hamilton to win. All of them relied on him getting first place at every single Grand Prix. And while that is perfectly possible, Hamilton, in fact, had been on a four win streak one time already that season. But you have to remember what Hamilton is facing. At that point in time in Japan, Rosberg had just won four of the last five Grand Prix. It’s very easy to look back in history and not really appreciate moments for what they were. Being 33 points down with your teammate just winning four or five Grand Prix and you needing to win the rest of the season, that’s a daunting challenge in and of itself. But not only that, Hamilton has to rely on Rosberg not getting second place because if they went one-two with Hamilton leading the rest, and Rosberg taking second place, Nico would still take the championship by five points which Hamilton was perfectly aware of going into the U.S.A. Grand Prix.
The next two races started and ended the exact same way, with Lewis Hamilton taking pole, Nico Rosberg on the front row, and Daniel Ricciardo finishing the final spot on the podium, one-two-three finish. Going into the penultimate race in Brazil, Hamilton cut the lead down to 19 points. There was rain and it was a heavy downpour. This played directly into Lewis’ hands as he’s a driver known for being able to produce in the rain. But at the same time, Nico Rosberg is the defending champion of this race held one year ago, but Lewis was unfazed, went on to take pole, and the race win for the third time in a row. But equally, if not more importantly, Nico Rosberg was able to complete the one-two finish and take the second place for the third time in a row. They went into the final race with Hamilton having cut Rosberg’s lead down to 12 points. And yet again in 2015, this was a race that Rosberg had already won.
Rosberg did have an available option in which if he landed on the podium, he would win outright the champion regardless of what Hamilton did. Rosberg would also clench a title if he finished better than six with Hamilton not winning the race. And if Hamilton was able to pull in a podium, Nico could afford to come in as low as eighth place. But if for some reason, Hamilton fell off the podium, Nico could then finish ninth. And while there were variations for which Hamilton could win the championship, really only one mattered. He had to win and then hope Rosberg would’ve finished at least fourth or anything worse. As many would predict, Hamilton could take pole of that race and Nico Rosberg would start on the frontline. But this time, you could tell that Rosberg was very reluctant to get into any sort of wheel-to-wheel combat. And rightfully so, that makes a lot of sense.
So, they enter and exit the first turn. Nico not really giving a fight, making sure to hold position. All he really needed to do is land on the podium. With all of the cars around them, all in different strategies, we start to see Lewis slow down a bit. After the first round of pit stops, around lap 32, it’s pretty noticeable that Hamilton’s pace has slowed. And as the race continued, this trend began to reemerge. Sebastian Vettel was the driver that was holding them up as he was yet to stop for his second pit, while 10 more laps go by and you can hear Lewis actually ask his pit what everyone is lapping around him. It’s pretty clear that he wants to slow the pace down to back up traffic. He’s trying to encourage some overtaking. Now again, remember, we’re at Abu Dhabi. It’s pretty hard to overtake people. Lewis knew that he was relatively protected, but he knew that Rosberg was not gonna enter any sort of wheel-to-wheel action with him. He couldn’t stop Vettel from overtaking Rosberg or at least attempting to. And when repeatedly asked about his pace, Hamilton just came back with, “I’m pretty comfortable with my pace of where I am.” And with just five laps remaining, Hamilton’s tactic was effective and he had backed up traffic so much so that Vettel was under one second from Rosberg. And to make matters more dramatic, Verstappen was only three and half seconds away from Vettel himself. And on the final lap, you see that everyone unlocks all of their engine modes, and Vettel starts to attack Rosberg.
Simultaneously, Verstappen moves into the DRS range of Vettel so that in case anyone makes a mistake, you see them fighting, one of them spins, Verstappen could then step up and take a podium or a big chunk of points from a mistake. But in the end, Rosberg was impressively able to hold off the attack from Vettel and Verstappen. With the result holding and [inaudible 00:23:32] ending with another one-two led by Hamilton, Rosberg had done enough to earn his first world championship. The entire podium finished almost within a second of each other. And while it was common for people to be critical of Lewis’ tactics here, this really wasn’t inconsistent with what they had been doing all along. So, by in large, this was mostly received as:
“Well, racers are just gonna race. They’re gonna do what they do.”
A lot of pundits and analysts were surprised by the fact that Rosberg had won. And while many weren’t surprised, he had always shown that he could pull this off. Things had to go right and things had to go in his favor, but he could do this. What did surprise everyone was his retirement. Just under a week of winning that title, Rosberg at the Vienna Prize Giving Ceremony had announced that he would retire. And for many fans of Nico or people who followed his career, and even as we talked about this in the beginning of the story, this isn’t that surprising. He’s had a father who has achieved greatness in this sport, who’s won a driver’s championship. As a kid who’s been a racer his whole life, that’s all you dream of as well. And that’s something Nico has openly talked about. And there’s also no denying that Nico is fiercely competitive.
Why Rosberg F1 Champion Retirement Should Surprise No One
Now, when we reevaluate what Nico really did in 2016, and it goes all the way back to the year 2000, back even to MBM when Hamilton was getting the better of Roseberg and all throughout their youth career, only when they won GP2 really were they on equal playing field, and they answered F1 and Hamilton parachuted right into the thick of it, right into the top of the headlines. Hamilton, just that kid from Stevenage, that kid we never heard of had waltzed in despite being considered an equal driver has just beaten him flat out, plain and simple. And even as a rookie flirting with a world championship, being touted already as one of the best young drivers and probably one of the most promising hopefuls of Formula 1, Rosberg knew that if he had the car, he could also be in that conversation. So, the second he got the chance and the second he pulled this off, why wouldn’t it make sense for him to leave? He had not only achieved exactly what he had always wanted to do, but he did it also while beating someone who had gotten the better of him his whole entire youth driving career, outracing and outscoring a living legend, which he’d already done before but it was diluted because it was considered that Schumacher was past his prime, and maybe so, but Hamilton wasn’t. He was in his prime.
When you look at this entire story all the way back from they’re aged 14, the entire story changed. When I set into this, the question was,
“Did Nico run from a fight? Did he win and get out?”
I’m not quite sure that’s even the proper question anymore because when you look at all of this, why wouldn’t he have done what he did? He did exactly what he set out to do. It’s not running from a fight if you won. Alain Prost had talked about this exact same thing after he had done it. And while this quote doesn’t perfectly match the story, it is something that reminded me of something Harvey Dent said in “The Dark Knight Rises,” “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” And while, yes, these are different circumstances, of course, but the fact remains that in Formula 1 racing, you have so much time before you’re just not as quick. And how many times have you seen your favorite racer or driver come back when you wish they’d just retire on top when they were at their form? That’s how you wanna remember them.
I think Nico didn’t want to become that. And to his credit, that’s all we have left to speculate on, what if. But at the end of the day, what if that’s just speculation? What we know, Nico is a Formula 1 world champion, fair and square. You can say someone had reliability issues. You can say lots of things, but Nico has a title.
I’ll end with a quote that always stuck with me. What Hamilton said when he found out that Rosberg was retiring. And this isn’t out of context, but I’m gonna read you a snippet from what he said.
“This is the first time he has won in 18 years. Hence why, it is not a surprise that he decided to stop.”
I think you can be a Hamilton fan or a Rosberg fan and recognize that he’s really talking about the fact that the first time he had beaten Hamilton in 18 years. He’s not referring to any other titles that Rosberg has won or not won. Rosberg won the GP2 title, a very respectable title a year before Hamilton even did. So, he knows he won championship. This quote is very important because it closes the book on something that was started a decade ago. Rather than Hamilton just wish him the best, which he does, to be fair, he does, but he had to had that jab in. He can’t just leave it at that. What really bothers him as it seems, he doesn’t really get a chance to respond. He doesn’t get a chance to take that back.
So, I challenge you. If you’re one of the people saying he ran, you’re probably one of the people that’s also bothered by the fact that Hamilton can’t respond, and as a lifelong motorsport fan and hopefully you are too, I think we can all take a moment to celebrate and appreciate what Nico did in 2016. He disrupted greatness. He carved a chunk of his own glory out of Hamilton’s. That’s something that should be neither forgotten nor diluted because it is special. Look at what we have today. Going into 2020, we already see the same thing starting to play out. It may be a long time before we see at least in equal technology, maybe never, Lewis actually lose. And while we had to wait just four years, remember, Nico had to wait 16. I’d probably end on that note, too.
And with that, thanks for watching. I appreciate your time. We’re gonna have a lot more stories to come. Don’t worry. Just because that the season is starting doesn’t mean that stories won’t continue. They will. I’ll just have to go full-time. But in order to do that, I really appreciate your support. Subscribe, make sure to share the video or like it, comment with any of your thoughts, and I’ll continue on with the next meeting the fall of Williams. So, get prepared for that and I’ll see you all very, very soon.