Nico Rosberg has opened up on his decision to retire from Formula 1 after winning the 2016 World Championship.
The German driver prevailed following a season-long battle against team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who had pipped Rosberg to the previous two titles.
The pair endured an intense rivalry from 2014 to 2016 when Mercedes’ pace at the front of the field was unrivalled.
Days after Rosberg secured his title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he announced that he would walk away from the sport in a decision that shocked the motorsport world.
Speaking in an interview with Men’s Health Magazine, Rosberg explained that he was unsure if he would be able to keep his championship-winning form going beyond the 2016 campaign.
“[I was] afraid that at some point I wouldn’t be good enough and that no team would want me anymore,” Rosberg said. “I wanted to decide for myself.”
It has been well-documented that Rosberg devoted much of his attention in 2016 to the F1 championship, which included time separated from his family.
Rosberg, who has appeared as a pundit on Sky Sports F1 following his retirement, says that he felt he became a different person when he committed to beating Hamilton to the championship.
“In a way, I gave up my identity,” Rosberg said. “Everything in my life was racing: my mechanics, my engineers, my team-mates, even my social environment.
“To put all that to zero in one fell swoop was a shock to my system. Then there was the addiction to recognition and success.
“I had never asked myself what other passions I had. There was always just the next race.”