Perhaps newly crowned 2016 Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg took Tom Wolfe’s words to heart. Wolfe wrote, “One of the few freedoms that we have as human beings that cannot be taken away from us is the freedom to assent to what is true and to deny to what is false.” I am not sure if Rosberg ever read Wolfe’s novel “A Man in Full.” However, today he is living the words Wolfe wrote nearly two decades ago.
Less than one week after finally capturing the F1 championship, Rosberg on Friday promptly announced his retirement from the sport.
Auto racing is an all-consuming endeavor. Whether we’re talking about a driver, a team owner, or a crew member, the sport easily and quickly consumes your life. The higher up the ranks you climb, the faster this happens. Rosberg has been racing for 25 years. In a video he posted on social media he stated, “This has been an extremely tough year … and I am not willing to do that again for next year.”
Several years ago, Rosberg changed his helmet design and incorporated a graphic of “the endless knot.” This symbol, or variations of it, is found in numerous cultures, including Nordic countries. It is perhaps best known for its ties to Buddhism; the knot has no beginning and no end. One description of it says “that all existence is bound by time and change, but rests with the divine and eternal.” This German ace, this multi-lingual husband, and this father, understands the end of a racing career is the beginning of a more balanced life.
And perhaps in a year or two, Rosberg will decide he wants to race again. It wouldn’t be the first time an F1 world champion left the sport, only to return a few years later. Look at Niki Lauda and Emerson Fittipaldi.
Many racing fans won’t understand Rosberg’s decision. Wolfe once again comes to mind, as he wrote, “You think if only you can acquire enough worldly goods, enough recognition, enough eminence, you will be free, there’ll be nothing more to worry about, and instead you become a bigger and bigger slave to how you think others are judging you.”
I applaud Nico Rosberg. Goals Accomplished. Passion diminished. Life in balance. Freedom that lasts.
About the author: Rick Dole is an award winning sports photographer, and part time blogger, who specializes in motorsports. For the past three decades he has photographed virtually every form of auto racing including Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR, NHRA, Pikes Peak, and IMSA and World Endurance Championship sports-car racing the United States and Europe. In addition, he has photographed major sporting events around the globe including the Olympic Games, the French and U.S Open tennis tournaments, the PGA Tour, NFL football, and a variety of NCAA sports. His 31 years of experience on the ground at such events gives his writing a unique perspective.