• Rosberg crowned motor-racing world champion in 2016.
  • Since then he has become a green investor, supporting start-ups particularly in zero-emissions transport.
  • COVID-19 should lead to greater action on the environment, he says.
  • Subscribe to World Vs Virus on Apple, Soundcloud or Spotify.

He won the Formula 1 World Championship in 2016 and then retired. Nico Rosberg had reached the top of motor-racing at 31 and moved on to other challenges: raising a family and seeking out high-tech answers to some of the planet's biggest problems.

The petrol-head-turned-green entrepreneur says COVID-19 has brought into greater focus than ever the need to make our economies more environmentally sustainable.

"COVID has really reminded us about the fragility of our society and in turn maybe even has reminded us about the fragility of our planet as well," Rosberg tells this week's World Vs Virus podcast.

"I really believe this is an opportunity that we are all going to take, not only to improve our resilience to such viruses and pandemics in the future but to also focus even more on preserving our environment."

Better public transport and a switch to electric vehicles - that must increasingly be powered by renewable energy - are key steps to reduce pollution and fight climate change, Rosberg says. That will require greater action from governments and companies, and public opinion will support that, he says, particularly after the pandemic.

"There's been a recent survey in Germany, which really shows how so many people wish to keep the situation on their streets the way it was during COVID. So, more quiet, less congested, less polluting. It was a very, very clear trend and much more clear than before coronavirus."

Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany celebrates with his team after winning the Formula One world championship. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah    TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC17985B73C0
Rosberg celebrates winning the Formula One world championship in November 2016.
Image: REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

"Consumers have to embrace electric mobility, in order to increase demand in order to increase supply in order to drive the price down ... Where electric mobility is really going to take off is if the price point is at least the same or less than a combustion engine. We're getting there, but we also need that shift in the consumer mindset."

Rosberg also talks about how motor-racing is also going electric, with Formula E - in which he is an investor - bringing zero-emissions racing to city centres. Meanwhile, Formula 1 is driving innovation in the synthetic fuels that could be key to making aviation carbon neutral.

Formula E - FIA Formula E Paris ePrix - Paris, France - April 27, 2019. Robin Frijns of Envision Virgin Racing team races to win the Formula E Paris ePrix. REUTERS/Charles Platiau - RC1DA4BF1C70
A Formula E race in Paris last year.
Image: REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Rosberg is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Find out more here.

During lockdown, Rosberg took part in a charity esports racing event, but had to concede that he is no match for the professional gamers.

"I was practicing quite a lot and I was still, like, one and a half seconds off per lap from the gamers. So huge respect. And it's their fault that I've now stopped driving the simulator, because I just see it as hopeless to become the best. And I don't like it if I don't have any opportunities to become the best."

Hear the WVV episode on esports here:

This week's WVV also contains a trailer for our new podcast, The Great Reset. Hear that episode here: