Former F1 world champion Keke Rosberg has revealed that he avoided Formula 1 and the public eye during his son’s racing career. The Finn believes that being a “recluse” was better than being asked questions about Nico.
The 1982 world champion voluntarily went dark in 2010 and avoided major interviews until 2016 following Nico’s title win.
Last week in Monaco, Nico convinced his father to step into an F1 car again. To be precise, Keke’s title-winning 1982 Williams. The move was part of a joint-demonstration by father and son. Later, the two filmed an interview together on the ex-Mercedes driver’s YouTube channel.
Sky Sports commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle commented that Keke’s presence was rare because he has been camera shy. The 69-year-old replies: “I am! I’ve withdrawn completely out of the public eye since 2010, really. I know it was the right decision.
“It mainly came because active drivers were very difficult to get. So, [journalists say] ‘dad’s there, he’s got nothing to do, let’s ask him’.
“I found myself being in the public eye much more than I should have been on my own merit, only to comment about him.
“I said ‘No, no, I can’t continue with this’. I just categorically stopped everything and became a recluse!”
He said that when Nico was racing karts, he was focused on “spending weekends with your boy and letting him go as far as your wings carry you”.
He opted not to manage Nico like he did Finnish drivers JJ Lehto and Mika Hakkinen. Nico even admitted that he was grateful for the decision and it came at the “perfect” time.
Keke said: “When I said ‘Jump’ and he said ‘Why?’, I knew it was time to stop.
“That was my biggest achievement, that I’d let him go at exactly the right moment.”
Rosberg Sr. found out about Nico’s decision to retire indirectly, but respected his decision.
“I got the message from my wife, who had received a text message from Nico,” said Keke.
“The last sentence was, ‘Please tell Dad too’. That’s how I found out.
“When I retired my best friends said why are you stopping, it’s too early, you’re making so much money and you’re having fun. It’s a very personal decision.
“When Nico retired I was a bit like I’d been punched in the stomach and the air was out for a while.
“This is the instant reaction because I didn’t expect it. But then you think it’s his life, it’s his choice and his racing.
“If he’s decided it’s time to go then it’s time to go.”