An editorial interview with reigning F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg
Issue: #December 2017
Mr Rosberg, you became Formula One world champion at the age of 31. How does it feel to be so successful that young?
Nico Rosberg: I only know it this way so I can’t compare. But it was fantastic, and really emotional. I did it! It cost a lot of energy, but it was awesome. Sharing that success with everyone was great – my family, the team, friends. The title has an amazing effect on your life afterwards. This success opens doors, and it’s really valuable for my future.
You surprised a lot of people when you hung up your helmet after winning the title. Was that a gradual decision or more spur-of-the-moment?
Nico Rosberg: It was gradual. Towards the end of the season I was so far ahead in the championship that the decision was in my hands. Suddenly, winning the title was realistic … and then I got the idea of stopping after the season. I’ve worked really hard all my life to fulfil my childhood dream, my mission. Driving races to become world champion has always been my source of inspiration. And then I thought: if I win, that would perfect. The best way to end my active career, and the best launch pad for my new life. The day was going to come anyway because you can’t do this sport forever. So I made the decision, and then I acted on it. It wasn’t easy. It obviously changes your life completely, and there’s also an element of uncertainty. But I followed my heart.
It must be quite a shift from a hectic, gruelling job as racing driver to being a family man. Did you take time out first, or did you start looking for new challenges and goals right away?
Nico Rosberg: First I spent a month travelling the world and celebrating! That was more strenuous than the whole season. But then I took time off completely with the family, which I really enjoyed. It was so liberating to be in charge of my own time at last. But I’m still competitive by nature, I still seek fresh challenges and pursue new passions. One field I find really fascinating is the world of start-ups. I’ve always been interested in that, particularly in the mobility sector, where disruption is turning things upside down. I think the development that’s happening won’t just change life – it will improve it too. And there are lots of opportunities to get involved. I’m an investor for example, I had an inspiring trip to Silicon Valley, and I keep up to speed with what’s going on. And naturally I’ll still be part of motorsport. For instance in Suzuka, I was a TV expert for the first time. Hopefully, I helped make things even more exciting for viewers with interesting background information and details from my own experience.
How closely do you still follow Formula One?
Nico Rosberg:Very! It still gives me great pleasure, and this season is really exciting.
The auto industry is undergoing rapid transformation, and one of the buzzwords is autonomous driving. As a former racing driver, what do you think of that? Can you imagine sitting in a car without steering it?
Nico Rosberg:Sure. I’m really enthusiastic about the whole development. Obviously I still think a 12-cylinder AMG or Ferrari is brilliant – it gives you goose bumps. But there’s a place for everything, and autonomous driving and electric cars are just as fascinating. EV development has the potential to ease the burden on our planet sustainably; if we generate more electricity from solar and wind in future, e-mobility will be more ecological long term. Not having to go to a filling station is also cool because for me, that’s a waste of time. With an EV I can just plug it in and do other stuff, then drive away. In Monaco I get around in an electric Car to Go, a Renault Twizy. You see them everywhere here. I just book one in the app … and off I go. The first time I rolled up in one, my father nearly disowned me. But then he just laughed and now he thinks it’s great. The world is changing fast.