Nico Rosberg considered shock F1 return as Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes stand-in

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg endured a fierce rivalry.

Nico Rosberg has revealed that he considered a shock Formula 1 return to replace Lewis Hamilton when the Briton contracted Covid-19 ahead of last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

The German endured a fierce rivalry with Hamilton when they were Mercedes team-mates at the beginning of Formula 1’s turbo-hybrid era, with the German manufacturer producing a series of cars for the pair which no other team on the grid could come close to matching.

Hamilton took the championship in both 2014 and 2015 but the following year, after a season in which the drivers traded blows in public and made contact on track, it was Rosberg who came on top by five points before immediately announcing his retirement from the sport.

It was Williams driver George Russell, who will move permanently to a Mercedes race seat in 2022, who eventually stood in for Hamilton at the Bahrain track and the Briton put in a sterling performance which helped convince the team he was worthy of replacing Valtteri Bottas.

In an interview with Jenson Button on his YouTube channel, Rosberg revealed it was the physical intensity of the sport which stopped him making the call to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.


“I would definitely have considered picking up the phone there,” the 36-year-old said. “But I physically would not have been able to. No way. I would not manage more than two laps with that car. My arms would solidify rock solid, my fingers… I wouldn’t be able to hold the steering wheel anymore after two laps, I am sure.

“Not to speak of the neck falling between my legs when I’m braking, because I wouldn’t be able to hold my head up! You know, the G-forces on those things, the challenge and the development you need on all your specific muscles, your arm muscles… It’s very on the edge. So physically, no chance.”

Rosberg’s retirement shocked both fans of the sport and prominent figures in the F1 paddock, who had expected his rivalry with Hamilton to continue for years to come. The former Williams driver, though, explained that a full-time return is not on the cards and that he is enjoying his new endeavours, including a strong commitment to media work and various eco-entrepreneurial projects.

“If you tell me you can try Valtteri’s car tomorrow in Bahrain on a day of testing I’d be like ‘wow that’s so cool I’d love to do it’,” he said. “But if you tell me I have another chance to be back in a season, no. Thank you very much everybody, I’m very happy with my second life. That’s all done and fulfilled.”

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