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F1: now that's a surprise - Rosberg waves goodbye

Bryan Edwards

Nico Rosberg is this year's Formula One World Champion, and he picked up his trophy, then told the audience at the FIA dinner that he was retiring.

Oh, come on. The season's done. I'd packed up and gone on holiday. Nothing more could happen in a season that has been frustrating and exciting in equal measure, both often at once. I was out of cellphone range, travelling with no plan, hopping onto trains to places with interesting names, sitting in scruffy bars with a beer and a book, so far away from the glitz and glamour of F1 I might as well have been in another world. No one knew where I was. No one could contact me unless I found a signal. And even then, it would be no use: I wasn't carrying a laptop and I can't remember my access codes to the PleaseBeInformed.com platform.

And so it was that I was sitting in a café after having had a haircut and a shave that I saw, on the TV news, a few seconds footage of Rosberg's announcement. Oh, I said. Never mind. It won't make any difference anyway. Either the car will dominate next year and a gibbon could win with it or the fact that it's a totally new car would be beyond Rosberg's capabilities to work around so he'd lose anyway.

And I went back to my coffee.

Imagine, then, my surprise to discover that there's a bit of a fuss over his retirement. I think Hamilton got it right when he dismissively said "he's not won anything for 18 years, of course he gives up now he's won something." Or something very similar: I was where the TV isn't in English, remember and not really very interested anyway. Hamilton should know: he's been racing against Rosberg, often wheel to wheel, since they were children; real children, not just behaving like kids.

Now Mercedes are scrambling around looking for a driver. The one no one is mentioning is Jenson Button. He's probably right not to go: he's spent most of his career doing car development and under-utilising his outstanding talent. Also, next year's cars will have almost nothing in common with this year's. Although everyone is in the same position, poor Jenson's been there far too many times before. Mercedes want Bottas but he's contracted to Williams. Williams at first told Mercedes to bugger off but now Mercedes seems to be willing to buy out Bottas' contract and Williams need the money. Haggling is continuing. But that leaves Williams with a new car and one brand new driver. Again, at the tail end of the season there were murmurs about Button joining them but Jenson's been pretty quiet on the whole idea of F1 for next year, except to say, before the Abu Dhabi race, that although he is technically contracted for next year and an option for 2018, he felt that he was preparing for his last F1 race. Alonso and McLaren have both said that he's not moving to Mercedes but stranger things have happened. McLaren need money, too. And they've sidelined the boss Ron Dennis and the new F1 team principle has just announced he's leaving PDQ. Selling Alonso might not be a totally rubbish idea.

One of the strangest is that the most fond farewell any living F1 driver has ever had might turn out to have been premature. Apparently, Williams are thinking laterally; who do we know who's very experienced, can help develop the new car and who will fit easily into the team. Ah, yes, they said. Let's ask Massa if he fancies a drive.

Of course, it's a shame that Susie Wolff packed up when it became apparent that she wasn't going to graduate from test driver to full seat at Williams. That would have been a good fit and we've had thoroughly enjoyed the telephone calls between her husband, Toto, and Frank Williams as the Mercedes chap told Williams to make sure his wife didn't clutter up the track and disturb the German outfit's drivers.

There was always the likelihood that, if he ever did win a Championship, Rosberg would be a one-hit wonder. He's made the decision. Some will see it as brave, some will see it as cowardly. Me? I really don't care. I've watched him abuse his car so the wheels fall off, watched him squeeze drivers into accidents, listened to him bleating if he's under pressure and, while others will no doubt disagree, I don't think F1 will miss him.

And his departure means that there will be no number one car on the grid next season: in the old days, the team would field a number two and a zero if the champ didn't turn up. Now there's personal numbering and Hamilton didn't use 1 as reigning world champion, the thing I'll miss most is that we might not get a zero which was always a bit of fun to see.

Right, Mr Editor. Done that. I'm heading back to the bar. Don't call me. I won't call you.