If you’re still trying to wrap your head around why Nico Rosberg would rather retire from Formula 1 than defend his world championship, TIME Magazine’s cover story about Lewis Hamilton might shed some light on the matter.
Hamilton appeared on the most recent edition of TIME, and, in the accompanying story, the magazine referred to him as “the greatest race car driver of this generation.”
In a vacuum, TIME’s comment might not stand out, as many consider Hamilton to be one of the top-three F1 drivers — Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel being the other two — from this era. But in context, it seems a bit odd to make such a statement, considering Rosberg clinched the driver title less than one month ago.
It makes sense to feature Hamilton on the cover rather than Rosberg, given that he’s pretty recognizable in the U.S. But one quote from Hamilton in TIME’s article offers some insight as to why Rosberg wanted to hang up his helmet.
“The team’s job is to provide both drivers with equal opportunity,” Hamilton told TIME. “And unfortunately, I didn’t have equal opportunity, because I had failures on our side of the garage. The other side didn’t.”
Nobody will deny reliability cost Hamilton his fourth championship, but that’s part of racing. All the great drivers from Mika Hakkinen, to Kimi Raikkonen and Ayrton Senna were robbed of race wins at one point or another due to mechanical failures. That doesn’t mean their teams didn’t give them an “equal opportunity” to beat their teammates.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) December 19, 2016
With three world championships to his name, Hamilton is clearly one of the all-time greats. The world championship isn’t always won by the best racer on the grid, though. It’s won by the driver who had the best all-around season.
Whether you like him or not, in 2016 that driver was Rosberg. Hamilton’s comments are simply an attempt for him to discredit Rosberg’s championship victory, and that’s something certain people within the sport have done as well.
With that in mind, it’s unsurprising Rosberg would rather close the books on his F1 career than deal with people trying to undermine what he’s achieved.
Thumbnail photo via Mercedes-AMG Petronas