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JANUARY 6, 2017

Ecclestone happy, not angry, as F1 stars retire

Bernie Ecclestone insists he is happy rather than upset that some of F1's biggest names have elected to retire.

F1 veteran and 2009 world champion Jenson Button has called time on his long career, as has Felipe Massa.

But it is believed Brazilian Massa could actually go back on his decision, because Williams' Valtteri Bottas is tipped to move to Mercedes for 2017.

That is because new world champion Nico Rosberg shocked the German team and F1 by deciding to quit just five days after winning the 2016 title.

F1 supremo Ecclestone insisted he is not angry with Rosberg, despite the fact he is leaving the sport without its reigning world champion in 2017.

"He did his job," the 86-year-old Briton told Germany's Sport Bild. "He wanted to become world champion and he has it now. Why should he continue? I can understand him."

In fact, Ecclestone said Rosberg's exit actually "helps" F1.

"It shows that the world champion has a clever head on his shoulders. He has reached his great goal, so we can't blame him for wanting to do something else in his life," he added.

As for Button and Massa, Ecclestone said: "I am glad that they are able to get out of their own choosing, as in the old days we lost drivers for other reasons, like if they were killed in accidents.

"So these retirements are even joyous events for me," he insisted.