F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone says he can "understand" why Nico Rosberg opted to retire, adding it shows the German has a "clever head on his shoulders".

Rosberg made the shock announcement he was quitting the sport less than a week after holding his nerve in a tense Abu Dhabi Grand Prix title showdown.

His exit means he becomes the first driver to leave the sport as reigning F1 world champion since Alain Prost in 1993.

"He has done his job," Ecclestone told Sport Bild. "Like most other drivers, who never manage to do it, he wanted to become world champion and he has the title now. Why should he continue? I can understand him.

"By making such a bold decision it helps Formula One. It shows he has a clever head on his shoulders. He has achieved his goal and how can anyone blame him for longing to do something else in life?

"This is very adult and now [team-mate] Lewis [Hamilton] will have to do without his revenge [in 2017]. It is not Nico's problem."

Ecclestone also revealed how he is pleased drivers' can bow out these days and go and pursue other interests rather than how many drivers' left the sport in the past.

"I'm glad they can step out of their own accord. In the old days, we lost driver for other reasons because they were killed in accidents. Therefore, these resignations are even joyous events for me."

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