Four-time world champion Alain Prost says 2016 title winner Nico Rosberg’s retirement from Formula One is “a courageous decision”.
The German broke the shock news ahead of the FIA Prize giving ceremony on Friday in Vienna.
Rosberg thus becomes the first driver to bow out of the sport after securing the championship since Prost did the same at the end of 1993.
“When I heard the news, I thought this is a good thing, a nice way to go out as a world champion,” the ‘Professor’ told French broadcaster Canal+.
“I know the feeling. But it’s not an easy decision to make. Some might wonder why he leaves in his prime, at the top of his game; others will interpret it as a lack of ambition.
“Now that he is world champion, maybe he does not have the same hunger anymore. Everybody will make their own opinion.
“Personally, I think this is a courageous decision. It gives even more value to his title when we look back at it in the future.
“He will remain for years and years as the world champion who bowed out of the sport after winning the title instead of carrying on and potentially losing. Nobody will ever know what might have happened for Nico had he stayed.
“At any rate, we need to respect the decision of someone willing to devote more time to his family and enjoy his life away from racing.”
Besides Rosberg and Prost, Nigel Mansell (1992), Jackie Stewart (1973), and Mike Hawthorn (1958) also left F1 as reigning world champion.