The German stunned his team and the F1 community as he announced his retirement on Friday in Vienna. Alesi, whose own career in the top flight spanned 201 race starts from 1989 to 2001, says Rosberg was a “perfect” ambassador for the sport.
“I am among those surprised by his departure,” Alesi told French broadcaster Canal+. “He has been driving the best car for the best team and it does look like this would have changed in 2017. So to say ‘I’m done’ at the age of 31, it’s very very young.
“Nico might have taken part in 206 grands prix, he is still very young. He is a hard-working guy, and could answer interviews in Italian, French, English, or German. He was the perfect guy really and we need to respect his decision.”
Alesi’s first and sole F1 win came on his 31st birthday at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix while driving for Ferrari.