Nico Rosberg has retired, realizing his life long dream of becoming a world champion in a world filled with cut-throat competition in Formula One. But his rivalry with Lewis Hamilton, with who he was the best of mates for many a years will live on in the annals of sporting history forever. Such is the storied history between the German and the Brit, that it has all the ingredients required to constitute a bonafide blockbuster Hollywood flick. Having pipped his friend turn foe Hamilton to the F1 World Championship in 2016, the German decided that he couldn’t take it anymore, that competing day-to-day with the fiercely competitive Brit had drained him to the point of no return, that he decided to pack his bags and said goodbye to the sport.
Friends since teens
The two 31-year-olds were first team-mates in 2000, when they were competing with each other in karting. They raced for MBM (Mercedes?Benz/McLaren) and Hamilton became European champion, with Rosberg close behind. The two ate ice-creams and pizzas together, sharing rooms, being the best of buddies. They both came from different backgrounds, with Rosberg coming from a rich privileged family, with his father Keke Rosberg being a world champion. Hamilton wasn’t as privileged enough and often mischievously persuaded his rich German friend to buy him sweets.
Back then they both often told each other that it would be cool if they both would make it to Formula One and even cooler, if they became teammates. How would they know that what the future had in store for them?
Bitter rivalry when competing for the world title
They both still were best friends when Rosberg got his break in Formula One in 2006, with Hamilton moving to Mclaren a year later. Hamilton would have the first taste of success with him winning the world championship with Mclaren in 2008. This still wouldn’t harm their friendship and when Hamilton moved to Mercedes in 2013, many believed that it would be the start of one of the most fruitful partnerships in F1 history. What it would turn out to be would be one of the most frosty relationships in the sport’s history.
The relationship started to get bitter in Monaco in 2014 when Rosberg apparently tried to deliberately get in the way of Hamilton as he attempted to claim pole position. Later that year, at Spa, the two crashed into each other. Mercedes later blamed Rosberg for the incident, which appeared all but ended his title challenge
For two years, Rosberg took the backseat where he failed to match the pure racing talent and sheer intensity of his great rival, as he dominated his way to the title. It all though changed in 2016, as a mentally stronger Rosberg, shut out the media and instead of trying to match the pace of Hamilton, focused on consistency to get off to a brilliant start to the season, which helped him in the latter stages to win the title in Abu Dhabi.
Yes, Hamilton was massively unlucky with engine failures, but the effort of Rosberg was truly commendable, as his consistency throughout the season enabled him to seal the title when he crossed the chequered flag in the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
After sealing the title, Rosberg decided that he simply had enough and that he simply couldn’t muster the same levels of intensity in 2017 to race wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton again for the title. Who knows, now with Rosberg peacefully retiring from the sport, having fulfilled his life-long dream, the pair could get back to establishing some sort of a friendship, in their relationship again.