Rosberg′s sole F1 title was a long time in the making | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 02.12.2016
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Rosberg's sole F1 title was a long time in the making

Nico Rosberg has announced his retirement from Formula One racing. The completely unexpected decision came just days after he achieved a goal that he had dedicated his entire life to.

Like many Formula One drivers, Nico Rosberg spent a lot of time around racing cars virtually from birth, having been exposed to the sport through his father Keke Rosberg, who won the drivers' title in 1982.

Born in Wiesbaden to his German mother, Sina, in 1985, like his father, he also holds Finnish citizenship. However, he has spent most of his life in Monaco, where he lives with his wife Vivian and his one-year-old daughter Alaia.

First serious step

Nico got into karting at the age of six, but it wasn't until the age of nine that his parents bought him his own kart. Two years later he took part in his first race and in 1997, at the age of 12, he won his first title in France. One year later he took the North American kart title.

His first serious step towards Formula One came in 2002, when he moved up to Formula BMW, winning nine of the 20 races to take the drivers' championship, the first significant title of his career. BMW rewarding him by giving him his first shot at testing one of its Formula One cars.

After winning the drivers' title in the GP2 series in 2005, Rosberg picked up his first contract with a Formula One outfit. In November of that year, he signed a multi-year deal with English team Williams. 

"I would have rather had a shorter-term deal, but a newcomer takes what he can get," he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper at the time. He was consoled by the fact that "the wage is really something for a 20-year-old, even though somebody told me it was peanuts".

Ready for the jump

Rosberg showed he was ready for the jump to Formula One when he made his debut at the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix, driving a car that was not seen as good enough for a podium finish.

Rosberg started from 12th in the grid and despite an early collision finished in seventh place to earn his first points on the top circuit. He also impressed by clocking the fastest lap of the race, making him the youngest to have done so at the time.

By 2007, Rosberg felt confident enough to tell German newspaper Die Welt that he was convinced that he had "the potential to become world champion".

However, it would be some time before he would actually win a Formula One race.

A legend as a teammate

In November of 2009 he agreed to a move to Mercedes, but this was quickly overshadowed by the decision of German driving legend Michael Schumacher one month later to make his comeback with Rosberg's new team. In 2010, though, Rosberg proved to be the better of the two drivers, finishing seventh in the standings compared to ninth for Schumacher.

A first-place finish - finally

Rosberg finally got his first checkered flag at the Grand Prix of China in 2012 - having started from the pole position for the first time in his career.

China Nico Rosberg gewinnt seinen ersten Grandprix 2012

Rosberg has been a winner from a young age

"I'm very happy, it's very cool, very exciting. Winning in one of the Silver Arrows is amazing," he told German sports paper Kicker.

From friends to bitter rivals

In 2013, Lewis Hamilton, a friend, whom he had met through racing when they were still children, joined Mercedes, setting the scene for what would soon develop into a bitter rivalry.

By 2014, Rosberg, along with Hamilton, was seen as a serious contender for the drivers' title, but the German was hampered by technical problems in various races and Hamilton prevailed in the final race of the season to take his second drivers' title.

Frustration as an incentive

Last season, both drivers again went into the season as favorites and Rosberg managed to keep Hamilton under pressure for much of the way, but the Englishman clinched his third title with three races to spare. The 2015 US Grand Prix in Austin, where Hamilton sealed the deal, will be remembered by many though, for "capgate," when Rosberg tossed his second-place cap back at his teammate in a rare display of frustration by the usually calm and controlled German.

Rosberg, though, seemed to channel his frustration well, going on to win the last three races of last season and following this up with four straight wins to start the 2016 campaign.

After surrendering his lead in the standings mid-season, the German righted his ship, clinching his first Formula One drivers' championship with a second-place finish behind Hamilton at Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. After taking a few days to celebrate and reflect on his achievement, on Friday, Rosberg announced his retirement from racing.

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