Rosberg’s retirement announcement just days after achieving his childhood dream and winning the F1 title caught many of us off-guard.
Britney’s spent 11 years racing in F1, having debuted in 2006 for Williams, before switching to Mercedes for the 2010 season.
After some hard-fought and exciting battles, he’s decided to hang up his F1 helmet. So we thought we’d take a look back at some of his best F1 moments:
A memorable debut
As the son of a former F1 world champion, the pressure was on for Rosberg to impress on his debut at the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix. Williams wasn’t at its strongest, though, having lost BMW backing and running a Cosworth engine. Nevertheless Rosberg qualified a decent P12.
His race didn’t get off to the best of starts after contact at Turn 1 meant he had to pit for a new nose. Not ideal… but from then on, he was on the pace, making great passes and even setting the fastest lap of the race. Rosberg went on to finish an impressive P7, making up for his earlier error.
The first win
F1 drivers are racing to win. That’s the most obvious statement ever. So, the first victory for a driver is always a special one and Rosberg picked up his maiden P1 trophy in style at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix. Having taken pole position, he led the field away alongside Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher.
Rosberg truly was untouchable on that day in Shanghai. The Mercedes was working well and he was able to pull away from the chasing pack, pulling off the two-stop strategy perfectly and taking a controlled first F1 win. No one came close to him.
Taste of success
Before his first F1 win, Rosberg had picked up five podiums and come close to the top step on a few occasions, but it had never quite come together for him. His maiden podium finish was at the 2008 Australian GP. It was a race of high attrition but Rosberg still qualified well and hit the front at the start after a great opening lap.
From fourth to first
Rosberg’s always been good at race starts and this couldn’t have been more obvious than at the Malaysian GP in 2009, when he went from fourth to first on the run to Turn 1. Not bad. Not bad at all. Sadly, he couldn’t hold onto the lead and finished the eventually red-flagged race in eighth.
Winning in Monaco
Rosberg has won the Monaco GP – his home race, having lived there all his life – three times. All of the victories there were memorable, but the most special one is probably 2013 – the first of the trio.
Having snapped up pole, he controlled the race through safety cars, red flags (Maldonado, we’re looking at you) and challenges from Red Bull. It was Rosberg in top form – an insight into what was to come once Mercedes well and truly hit the front. The win meant a lot to him and was an emotional moment.
Close to victory
Rosberg came close to winning in Singapore early in his career. He always went well around the Marina Bay Street Circuit and this was proved in 2008 when he finished in second place. OK, so ‘crashgate’ may or may not have influenced the race-winning result. But Rosberg performed incredibly well regardless.
He was quick all weekend for Williams but a stop/go penalty for pitting under the safety car – the pits were closed but he had no fuel left – cost him a shot at the win. He dropped to fourth but climbed back up to second by the finish, in what was a very strategic race.
Further evidence of Rosberg’s strong form in Singapore was this year’s race. Many claim he couldn’t beat Hamilton fair and square but in Marina Bay, he did just that. He was quicker throughout the weekend, qualifying on pole and taking a commanding grasp on the race.
But he had to hold off a late charge from Daniel Ricciardo, just managing to do so. It was undoubtedly one of Rosberg’s best performances in F1, with Hamilton off the pace (for a Mercedes) in third.
Finally, the title
After tough 2014 and 2015 seasons fighting it out but losing the titles to Hamilton, it all came good for Rosberg in 2016. Everything came together and it put him in a strong position heading into Abu Dhabi. He did everything he needed to do, despite Hamilton’s best efforts to back him up into rivals.
Rosberg held his nerve, fighting past Verstappen early on, holding off the charges of the Red Bulls and Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages to nab second place and secure an emotional first championship. A few days later, he shocked us all by announcing his retirement.