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.