Toto Wolff has paid tribute to Nico Rosberg following the shock decision to call time on his racing career less than a week after winning his first Formula 1 world title.

It has only been five days since Rosberg began celebrating his landmark championship win, the German holding his nerve in a tense Abu Dhabi showdown to edge out Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

However, despite being contracted until the end of 2018, Rosberg has rocked the F1 paddock by announcing he will retire having fulfilled his lifelong ambition.

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It is a move that even caught Mercedes by surprise amidst its own title celebrations but having decided to honour his decision Wolff hailed the German for tireless efforts since joining the team back in 2010.

"This is a brave decision by Nico and testament to the strength of his character. He has chosen to leave at the pinnacle of his career, as World Champion, having achieved his childhood dream. The clarity of his judgement meant I accepted his decision straight away when he told me.

"It's impossible to capture the essence of a person in a few short words. But Nico has a special combination of natural talent and fighting spirit that have brought him to where he is today. Throughout his career, people have thought he was on a golden path to success just because his father was a World Champion; in fact, I think in some ways that made the challenge greater - and meant he had to fight even harder with the weight of expectation on his shoulders.

"With Mercedes, Nico has been a relentless competitor, bouncing back from tough times in an inspirational way, and he earned the respect of the sport with his tenacity, his fighting spirit and his grace under pressure. Since 2010, he has poured competitive energy into our team and we have grown stronger because of it. We simply say 'thank you' for the incredible contribution he has made to our success, alongside two of the all-time great drivers, Michael and Lewis.

"For the team, this is an unexpected situation but also an exciting one. We are going into a new era of technical regulations and there is a free Mercedes cockpit for the seasons ahead. We will take the necessary time to evaluate our options and then find the right path for our future."

After a decade in F1, firstly with Williams before his switch to Mercedes, Rosberg ends his career having amassed 23 wins, 30 pole positions and 57 podiums.

Mercedes has not revealed who will replace Rosberg next season though Mercedes junior and test driver Pascal Wehrlein is the early front runner given the majority of the high-profile are tied into deals for 2017.