In an emotional address prior to the 2016 FIA Prize Giving in Vienna, the Mercedes AMG Petronas driver revealed the reasons behind his decision, which was reached following his crowning achievement in Abu Dhabi last Sunday.
Last Sunday in Abu Dhabi, he became the first German driver to win a Formula One World Championship at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow.
Rosberg: said: “Since 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, to become Formula One World Champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target.
“And now I’ve made it. I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right. My strongest emotion right now is deep gratitude to everybody who supported me to make that dream happen.
“This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough. I pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last two years; they fuelled my motivation to levels I had never experienced before.
“And of course that had an impact on the ones I love, too, it was a whole family effort of sacrifice, putting everything behind our target. I cannot find enough words to thank my wife Vivian; she has been incredible.
“When I won the race in Suzuka, from the moment when the destiny of the title was in my own hands, the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became world champion.
“On Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, I knew that it could be my last race and that feeling cleared my head before the start. I wanted to enjoy every part of the experience, knowing it might be the last time and then the lights went out and I had the most intense 55 laps of my career.
“My proudest achievement in racing will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people, the Silver Arrows.”
Rosberg has competed in a total of 206 Grands Prix and won 23 of them, placing him joint 12th on the all-time list alongside Nelson Piquet. The workforce at the team’s Brackley headquarters will have been shocked to hear of Rosberg’s decision.
And team boss Toto Wolff said: “This is a brave decision by Nico and testament to the strength of his character.
“He has chosen to leave at the pinnacle of his career, as world champion, having achieved his childhood dream. The clarity of his judgement meant I accepted his decision straight away when he told me.
“With Mercedes, Nico has been a relentless competitor, bouncing back from tough times in an inspirational way, and he earned the respect of the sport with his tenacity, his fighting spirit and his grace under pressure.
“Since 2010, he has poured competitive energy into our team and we have grown stronger because of it. We simply say ‘thank you’ for the incredible contribution he has made to our success.”