Rosberg attributes F1 title win to nature over nurture

LONDON • Retired 2016 Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg says genetics, mind management and being less self-enamoured than some of the other drivers all played a part in his success.

The German retired abruptly after last season, having beaten his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the title to become the second son of a champion to win the championship. His Finnish father Keke was world champion in 1982.

"I just genetically inherited a natural gift from my dad to drive racing cars," the 32-year-old, who is now looking at technology start-ups, told an event in London organised by Wired magazine.

"I'm a firm believer that genetics are quite a big part of this... I would probably say 66 per cent genetics, 33 per cent nurtured," he added.

"I would go to that extreme. In our sport, it's very clear..."

Referring to Red Bull's Max Verstappen, whom he dubbed "the crazy Dutchman", Rosberg cited the 20-year-old three-time race winner as an example. "His dad (Jos) was a successful driver too and now his son is a successful driver because it's the genes that pass on," the German said.

Hamilton, 32, who became Britain's most successful driver and a four-time world champion in Mexico last Sunday, goes against that narrative, however, as someone with no family background in motor racing.

Without giving examples, Rosberg said many Formula One drivers had personality traits that were both a strength and weakness.

"The general Formula One driver is a big narcissist, in love with himself and he thinks he's the best in the world and it's always the other guy's fault," he said.

"That gives you a certain strength in this crazy environment where you are judged by millions of people every little moment but it's also a weakness because you don't question yourself as much.

"I was more on the other side, the more sensitive, less narcissistic, questioning myself all the time, trying to improve step by step."

Rosberg also said he had to show total dedication to win the title. He hired a mental trainer and learnt to simplify life, practising meditation to bring greater clarity and focus to his racing.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 05, 2017, with the headline 'Rosberg attributes F1 title win to nature over nurture'. Subscribe