Formula One champion Nico Rosberg spoke before the Laureus Sports Awards, being held in Monaco this year, about what made 2016 special for him. The German racer spoke about his relations with former rival and world champion Lewis Hamilton and his expectations for the upcoming season.
After finishing second in the Formula One World Championships to Mercedes teammate Hamilton in 2014 and 2015, the German finally made a breakthrough in 2016 to win the title for the first time in his 10-year racing career.
For that, the 31-year-old champion – now officially retired – has been nominated for the “Breakthrough of the Year” category at the 2017 Laureus Awards amid tough competition with England champions Leicester football club, Euro 2016 quarter finalists Iceland, Ethiopian athlete Almaz Ayana who broke the world record by over 14 seconds to win gold at the Rio Olympics in the women’s 10 000 meters among others.
“It is the biggest award in the world of sports. It’s been there for 17 years. The list of winners over the years is incredible,” Rosberg said.
Mercedes team has dominated the championship recently by winning the title for the past three years. Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas has been announced as Rosberg’s replacement for the 2017 season.
“Mercedes is an incredible team and there is a good chance that they are going to be at the front but the rules are totally different starting this year, everybody has to start from zero with those new regulations. Nobody knows, it will be interesting how things will go. Mercedes biggest threat is Red bull,” the German said.
Rosberg has won the Monaco Grand Prix three times in a row between 2013 and 2015 and there is no better place to speak about this race than in the city itself.
“It is a legendary track and the most difficult and challenging of all. It’s a glamorous and spectacular race so it was an honor for me to win it three times in a row.”
Hamilton and Rosberg spent four seasons together as teammates at Mercedes battling for the title in three of them but with the German announcing his retirement just 31 days after winning the title, he ended one of the fiercest rivalries in the sport’s history after numerous of controversial on-track incidents between the two drivers.
And when asked about an advice to give to Hamilton new teammate Bottas, Nico said: “Don’t expect an easy ride [laughs]. It is going to be challenging because the level is extremely high. But I will stay neutral and not give any Lewis secret. Valtteri will be his biggest rival and then Red Bull.”
“It will take time to find our way, we had some nice relaxed moments and we are open to have good relations in the future. We were best friends 15 years ago.”
Rosberg’s compatriot Sebastien Vettel is a four-time world champion having won them in a row between 2010 and 2013 with Red Bull Racing but has ended third and fourth in the past two seasons since signing with Ferrari.
“Ferrari will take time to become the best team in the future. But I guess that Vettel and Mercedes should consider each other especially that he doesn’t have a contract for 2018. He is one of the best drivers out there so they should explore the possibilities.”
Even though Rosberg has announced his retirement from F1, he still feels that he has to give back to the sports that made him who he is now.
“I am exploring new challenges; I want to give something back. Life gave me success and an amazing family. My main focus is to found projects I am passionate about, start with children especially that this is what Laureus is about.”
Nico earned his love for Formula One from his Finnish father Keijo Erik Rosberg, the 1982 world champion and they have become only the second father-son partnership to hold a Formula One world title apiece.
The German has a one-year old daughter but when asked about whether he would like to see his future children following his and his father’s steps, he said: “The most important thing is to let them find their own ways and chose their paths.”
Having ended runner-up in 2014 and 2015, Rosberg vowed to avoid such disappointments and had hired a mind management specialist. He started to practice meditation, which ultimately played a key role in him winning the F1 championship.
“I have always been exploring that area because we are training our bodies flat out but yet we don’t do that much for our minds, so it’s possible to do that extra for your minds. So I went for it with a mental trainer and it gave me that little bit extra you know,” said Rosberg on the eve of the Laureus World Sports awards.
Asked if he is planning to pursue yoga as well, Rosberg said: “Yoga and meditation is quite similar. Meditation has given me something extra in my life. It will be great to explore India some day and do Yoga, the Indian way of exploring this training.”
“Thanks to the difficult moments in my life as they motivated me to do better. It gave me the push to keep fighting with all the dedication and hard work. Meditation also played a role,” said Rosberg, who announced his shock retirement after winning his maiden world title last year.