Nico Rosberg dispels Wolff myth over Mercedes exit
Nico Rosberg has said it was “never, ever” true that team principal Toto Wolff was happy to see the back of him at Mercedes.
Just days after winning the World Championship for the first time in 2016, Rosberg publicly announced his retirement from Formula 1 during the end-of-season FIA Prize Giving Gala saying he had “climbed my mountain, I am on the peak and so this feels right”.
Given the tense and toxic atmosphere at Mercedes created by Rosberg and his friend turned foe, Lewis Hamilton, there has always been a lingering suspicion that Wolff was happy that Rosberg decided to hang up his helmet and driving gloves.
But, in an interview with Motorsport Total, Rosberg emphatically stated this was not the case and, in fact, efforts were made, especially by Niki Lauda, to persuade him to change his mind.
“That was never, ever true,” Rosberg said.
“[We] had the best driver combination…and sure it would have been easier if I had continued.”
Rosberg also revealed that, in an ideal world, he would have delayed his retirement announcement until January 2017 to allow him to fully enjoy becoming a Formula 1 World Champion.
But, he ultimately decided to notify Mercedes as soon as possible so work could begin immediately on finding his replacement.
“I would have very much liked to celebrate the world title for another month and then at some point say, ‘I’m quitting,’” Rosberg commented.
“If it had been up to me, I would have done it in January. Another month of partying through as world champion, and then Christmas and so, and then at some point in January say: ‘I’m quitting.’”
“I only did it for Toto and for the team, quite simply.”
Meanwhile, Wolff did state in the last month that he would never allow another team-mate war to happen on his watch again at Mercedes.
“It was very difficult, because I came into the team as a newcomer in F1 and Nico and Lewis had been in the sport for much longer,” he told the High Performance podcast.
“But still I was able to create an environment where they had to respect the team, sometimes with an iron fist, and they understood that they couldn’t let us down, they couldn’t let Mercedes down.
“If the debriefing room is full of negativity because the two drivers are hostile with each other then that will spill over into the energy in the room and that is not something I will ever allow again.”
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