Nico Rosberg has revealed some of the secrets behind his championship success this year and the level of dedication required to beat Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Less than a week after crossing the line at the final race of the 2016 season, Rosberg shocked the sporting world by announcing his retirement from Formula One. The 31 year old said he was "not willing to do that sort of commitment for another year", adding that his wife Vivian was going to "get her husband back" while he was looking forward to "being a dad again" to his daughter Alaïa.
Prior to his title success this year, Rosberg endured two seasons of finishing second to Hamilton as Mercedes' dominance pitched the two teammates into a private battle for the title. The heaviest blow came at the 2015 U.S. Grand Prix when Rosberg spun off from the lead of the race, handing the victory and that year's drivers' championship to Hamilton.
Spurred on by the defeat, he upped his level of commitment and dedication away from the track and at media appearances kept his words to a minimum. His mantra of taking "one race at a time" became the stock response to questions about dealing with the pressures of fighting for the title, but behind the scenes there was a lot more going on.
"This year was the best I can be," he said shortly after announcing his retirement. "In preparation and everything, I put everything into it. To give you some examples to understand, since Austin last year I started to work very closely with a mental trainer and went into meditation and things like that also. I made massive progress as a result and it was just finding those extra little percentages to perform even better.
"Mental training is difficult because it's something you need to persevere with, every morning and every evening, it's just on and on otherwise there is no point. Without that person who was supporting me - he has his part in this as well - that provided phenomenal progress for me to discover that and improve in that area."
With in-season testing limited to just two two-day tests per year in F1 (half of which has to be completed by young drivers), Rosberg also looked to sharpen his skills in go-karts.
"I bought a go-kart in the winter and have just been driving and driving and driving, because we don't drive much out there," he said. "I was sure that I could practice my skill and improve that little bit more if I'm out there driving something all the time.
"Again, that was days away from home, but I'm as good now as when I was driving for the championship when I was 14! That's how much I drove. I think that made a difference as well, and that's just some examples of how I gave it everything and didn't leave a stone unturned. I'm very, very happy that that worked out."
The level of commitment required away from the track is one of the key reasons cited by Rosberg in his decision to retire as he now looks to put family first.
"I pushed like crazy in all directions. I want to thank everyone who was involved, my family ... a lot of sacrifices. My wife, for example, at home; every time I was home, she understood that I needed to rest so I never did any nights, I didn't have to take after my daughter. Didn't do any nights, didn't do any difficult things, she was always there to support and make everything possible.
"That's one example of the commitment we all put into it. I've achieved this childhood dream, and I'm not willing to do that sort of commitment for another year, and I'm not interested in coming fourth or whatever. I'm a fighter, and I want to win. So I'm not interested to do that again, so I've decided to follow my heart, and my heart has told me to stop there and call it a day, do other things."