Lewis Hamilton made Nico Rosberg retire from Formula 1 - Nationals
'Hamilton lost the battle but won the war,' claim papers as Rosberg quits Mercedes and F1; Was the 'mental strain' too much?
Last Updated: 04/12/16 8:19am
The intense pressure of Lewis Hamilton forced Nico Rosberg into his shock retirement, according to Saturday's papers.
Rosberg dropped the sensational bombshell that he was quitting Formula 1 less than a week after winning his first world championship, claiming that he had 'climbed his mountain' and 'reached the peak'.
But the German also admitted that he was thinking about retiring as the pressure of his title battle with his Mercedes team-mate ramped up, and the national newspapers believe Hamilton heavily influenced Rosberg's decision. There are also questions over who the Silver Arrows now turn to for 2017.
"Lewis Hamilton lost the battle but won the war," writes Kevin Eason in The Times. "He dominated Nico Rosberg from karting to the ultimate in Formula 1 and when the German finally won his world championship, the strain was so great that he had to walk away from the sport.
"Hamilton waged a psychological war up until the end. Now Mercedes have to find a driver with the mental strength to stand up to the force that is Hamilton."
Richard Williams agrees in The Guardian, stating that Rosberg knows Hamilton has the "edge in outright speed", while next year he could have been on "something close to a hiding to nothing".
"He might not want to spend a year defending his title under further critical scrutiny from those who believe that his success was made possible only by a couple of engine failures on Hamilton's car," Williams continues.
Hamilton, meanwhile, who spoke to Rosberg before he made his decision public, insisted he was not surprised by his former best friend's early exit from the sport.
But while The Telegraph's Oliver Brown claims "Hamilton will want assurances that his alpha-male standing at Mercedes is not under threat" when they pick his next team-mate, Rosberg's retirement could in fact help the Brit. Hamilton was facing disciplinary action from Mercedes after disobeying orders at the Duel in the Desert.
"Hamilton will be left off the hook for defying team bosses in Abu Dhabi as they frantically try to find a replacement for Rosberg," writes Ben Hunt in The Sun.
"The German's decision to quit F1 has left Merc chiefs with a real headache for 2017 - and they won't risk aggravating their other star driver."
Eason agrees, adding: "Toto Wolff's threaten to fine, suspend or even sack Hamilton for 'anarchy' in Abu Dhabi when he did his best to sabotage Rosberg's title attempt are now consigned to the bin.
"The Austrian's only concern now is to find a driver of stature who has a chance of standing up to a driver ruthless enough to discard a gentlemen's agreement to pursue his quest for glory."
It is claimed that Rosberg only told Mercedes bosses of his decision on Wednesday, while he was "almost in tears" when speaking to Toto Wolff on the phone.
When the 31-year-old, who studied Zen philosophy to control his emotions throughout the season, made his announcement in Vienna, "it landed like a bomb out of a clear sky", claims The Daily Mail's Jonathan McEvoy.
"Retirement out of the blue was probably the most quixotic thing Rosberg has ever done." he writes. "He was a grafter, not a grandstander.
"He will not be remembered as a truly great driver, but he beat one in Hamilton. Rosberg's mental resilience, as four-time champion Alain Prost noted the other day, when everyone told him he was no equal of Hamilton, is a testimony to his character and work rate."