Nico Rosberg has shed some light on the extensive sacrifices he made during the 2016 World Championship, which led him to make the decision to quit the sport just a few days after winning the title.
Rosberg beat Lewis Hamilton to the title after an intense year-long battle with his Mercedes teammate, and announced his shock retirement five days after the title finale in Abu Dhabi.
At just 31-years-old, it was viewed as a premature decision by many of his colleagues and rivals at the time, but Rosberg has said he made a firm decision to leave and that moment came the instant he crossed the finish line in Abu Dhabi.
"Two metres after the line in Abu Dhabi. If you ask me, 'When did you decide to retire?' That was the moment," Rosberg told Squaremile.
"I had given it everything. It was a question of do I want to continue to deliver and live in that intensity, and with my dream having come true – I'd fulfilled my goal of being World Champion – it just felt like a great moment to step away and have a new life, with different benefits."
Having just been crowned the World Champion, Rosberg was throwing away a lucrative pay-out as he had a valid contract with Mercedes for 2017.
"There was about £100m going down the drain… but shit happens," he laughed.
Rosberg has always maintained that the sheer strain of trying to beat Hamilton to the title was the catalyst for his departure from the sport, and has revealed some of the sacrifices he had to make to beat his storied rival.
Recounting the 2016 Japanese Grand Prix, where Rosberg just pipped Hamilton to pole position, he attributed that small victory to him letting his muscular legs atrophy.
"The pivotal moment was in Suzuka where I got pole position by two-hundredths of a second," he explained.
"Lewis was on provisional pole, and then I came round and I beat him by the smallest of margins. Two hundredths, for me, was my leg muscles that I dropped in the summer break by stopping cycling.
"One kilo is three-hundredths of a second per lap, so I was looking for an extra bit of performance, anything that could give me the slightest edge. I was already super thin, so I couldn’t lose weight, but I still had these leg muscles to get rid of, so I got rid of those across a two-month period, and that proved enough to get me pole position in Suzuka.
"I think Lewis was really put off by that pole position and then he lost his way a bit that weekend – he messed up the start on Sunday and went back to eighth place, and only finished third – while I had quite an easy win. That really gave me the championship lead, and ultimately that proved decisive."
Revealing the tiniest details that he had to pay attention to in order to defeat Hamilton, Rosberg said it even applied to his socks.
"My helmet was black because I got rid of the paint, which was 80g," he revealed.
"My socks stopped at the ankle rather than going up to the knee, because that was another 5g saved on each side; on my racing gloves there was a stitching in not an ideal place because it took away a bit of feel on the clutch, so I got that removed.
"I worked extremely intensely with a sports psychologist, I spent two hours every two days on psychology and even learning philosophy with this teacher.
"It was all these little details that ultimately made the difference. But that's what you need to win. That's the sacrifice."
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