Lewis Hamilton was not surprised by Nico Rosberg's decision to retire from Formula One and says his former Mercedes team-mate will be a big miss for the sport.
Rosberg caused a stir on Friday when he announced his retirement at the age of 31, just five days after fending off Hamilton in Abu Dhabi to win the drivers' title for the first time his career.
Hamilton and Rosberg were childhood friends having risen through the motorsport ranks together, but their relationship has become strained during their battle for F1 supremacy in recent years.
Briton Hamilton won the world title ahead of his team-mate in 2014 and 2015, and he believes that Rosberg finally winning the championship was the catalyst for his decision.
"I'm probably one of the only people that it was not a surprise to," Hamilton said at the FIA Prize Giving in Vienna.
"But that's because I've known him for a long time. This is the first time he's won [in their rivalry] in 18 years, hence why it was not a surprise that he decided to stop.
"But he's also got a family to focus on, having children, and Formula One takes so much of your time.
"We started out when we were 13 and we'd always talked about being champions. When I joined [Mercedes] Nico was there, which was again something we talked about when we were kids.
"It's going to be very, very strange, and it will be sad not to have him in the team next year. The sport will miss him and I wish him all the best."
Rosberg's shock announcement leaves a driver spot vacant at Mercedes for 2017, but Hamilton insists he will have no influence over who his new team-mate will be.
"I've never been a driver to ever request - I know a lot of the other drivers, Sebastian [Vettel], Fernando [Alonso], make sure that's in their contract," he added.
"I've just always asked to have equal rights. So as long as we are treated fairly then it doesn't matter who is sitting alongside you.
"We've got great team bosses and I'm sure they will choose the right people to represent them. I'm here to race, I still love racing, and now the focus is onto next year and I'm hoping for a better season."