Nico Rosberg admits he is not the most apt person to comment, but “really hopes” Lewis Hamilton will stick around for another title battle next season.
The German announced days after winning the 2016 World Championship in Abu Dhabi that he was retiring from Formula 1, having achieved his ultimate goal.
He beat his Mercedes team-mate Hamilton to do so, of course, and the Briton suffered more Yas Marina disappointment five years on when he again relinquished the Drivers’ crown to Max Verstappen, this time in much more controversial circumstances.
The nature of the latest defeat, which denied Hamilton a record-breaking eighth title, has given rise to speculation the 36-year-old may decide to walk away from F1 due to the injustice he feels, with some questionable calls from Race Control at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix having sealed his fate.
However, frankly it would be a surprise if Hamilton did not want the opportunity to avenge what happened and try again to claim outright the title record he currently shares with Michael Schumacher.
Rosberg wants to see Hamilton and Verstappen involved in another potentially brilliant tussle after a season-long fight that captivated Formula 1 fans throughout 2021.
“It was heartbreaking for him (Hamilton), absolutely, because up until four laps from the end he was almost certain to be World Champion,” Rosberg told Sky F1.
“Then with this change of procedure or whatever you want to call it, suddenly he lost the World Championship. So it was tough, extremely tough.
“But of course I do count on him being back on the grid next year and fighting to get back that World Championship that kind of got taken away from him in a way.
“We really hope. Of course, I’m not the guy to be saying that because I also disappeared into the distance after I won a title so it really wouldn’t be fair to say that, but I do hope Lewis and Max will go at it again next year.”
Although the current crop of drivers is arguably the strongest in F1 history, Rosberg sees the two protagonists as being on a different “planet” to the rest.
“It was just so amazing, those two guys,” he added. “Lewis used to be, or is, the best wheel-to-wheel racer and here comes Verstappen who is really taking it to him in wheel-to-wheel racing and sometimes even being better than him.
“It’s incredible to see their skill and to watch them go at it. They are like on their own planet, well beyond everyone else. So I hope we see it again next year.
“But there are completely new regulations next year, so there could be another team in the mix as well. I think we are in for another great season next year.”
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