Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone says he can “understand” Nico Rosberg’s decision to retire from the sport after winning the drivers’ championship in 2016.
Rosberg announced just five days after clinching his maiden title in Abu Dhabi that he would be retiring from racing with immediate effect.
The news came as a shock to the entire F1 paddock, causing a knock-on effect on the driver market for 2017 as Valtteri Bottas prepares to replace Rosberg at Mercedes and partner Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg’s decision drew mixed reactions from the paddock, with some praising his decision to exit on his own terms, while others – Ecclestone included – suggested it would diminish his standing in F1 history as he did not defend his crown.
Speaking to Germany’s Sport Bild, Ecclestone said that he does understand why Rosberg chose to retire when he did, having achieved his goal of becoming World Champion.
“He has done his job. He wanted to become world champion and he has the title now,” Ecclestone said.
“Why should he continue? I can understand him.
“By making such a bold decision it helps Formula 1. It shows he has a clever head on his shoulders.
“He has achieved his goal and how can anyone blame him for longing to do something else in life?
“This is very adult and now Lewis will have to do without his revenge. It is not Nico’s problem.”
Mercedes is poised to announce Bottas as Rosberg’s replacement in the near future, with Felipe Massa coming out of retirement to take the Finn’s seat at Williams.
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.