Not everyone was taken by surprise at the FIA Prize Giving Ceremony last night when 2016 Formula One World Champion, Nico Rosberg, announced his retirement with immediate effect, as Mercedes team boss, Toto Wolff, was informed of his drivers decision earlier in the week.
For the past few days Nico has been travelling with the team and celebrating with sponsors and workers alike, with no outward sign that he was actually saying his final goodbyes to them all, even if Toto Wolff was already aware of his driver’s decision.
Nico admitted that he made up his mind to leave the sport the day after securing his first and now only F1 title, and couldn’t bring himself to tell his boss about it face to face.
"It was massively difficult," he said. "I couldn't tell him in person. I had to call him. It was massively intense especially after three hours of sleep."
Toto however, fully understood where his driver was coming from and didn’t even attempt to try and change his mind….
"This is a brave decision by Nico and testament to the strength of his character,” Toto said. “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.”
“It's impossible to capture the essence of a person in a few short words. But Nico has a special combination of natural talent and fighting spirit that have brought him to where he is today.”
“Throughout his career, people have thought he was on a golden path to success just because his father was a World Champion; in fact, I think in some ways that made the challenge greater - and meant he had to fight even harder with the weight of expectation on his shoulders.”
"With Mercedes, Nico has been a relentless competitor, bouncing back from tough times in an inspirational way, and he earned the respect of the sport with his tenacity, his fighting spirit and his grace under pressure. Since 2010, he has poured competitive energy into our team and we have grown stronger because of it. We simply say 'thank you' for the incredible contribution he has made to our success, alongside two of the all-time great drivers, Michael and Lewis.
"For the team, this is an unexpected situation but also an exciting one. We are going into a new era of technical regulations and there is a free Mercedes cockpit for the seasons ahead. We will take the necessary time to evaluate our options and then find the right path for our future."