Learn more about the first Flying Finn of Formula 1, from his full name and original nationality, to his helmet designs and what he does today.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Date of Birth:
Keijo Erik Rosberg
Place of Birth:
Married to Sina
Formula 1 Career
128 (114 races started)
Grand Prix Wins:
7 (2 non-championship)
Theodore, ATS, Wolf,
Fittipaldi, Williams, McLaren
On December 6, 1948, Keijo Erik Rosberg was born in Solna, Stockholm County, Sweden.
Nicknamed Keke (easier to pronounce), he and his parents moved back to their native Finland early in his life, and he took Finnish nationality. His early career in motorsport was a departure for a Finnish motorsport driver of the time, choosing with success to go circuit racing in Formula Vee, Formula Atlantic, Formula Pacific, Can Am and the F1 feeder series Formula 2.
Keke’s first drive in F1 was with the Theodore team in 1978, immediately making a name for himself winning the non-Championship BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone. In very wet conditions he beat some of the biggest and most established names from F1, only his 2nd race. After this early success he had a series of bad seasons with uncompetitive teams, the pointless ‘81 season particularly bad. Despite this he impressed the Williams team, and with a seat spare in 1982 after Alan Jones’ sudden retirement, Keke finally had a competitive drive. He took full advantage of it, winning his first grand prix at Dijon, and taking the 1982 F1 World Championship.
In the next 3 seasons with Williams, Keke was a regular contender for the drivers title, winning in
at least once in each season (twice in 1985), before moving to McLaren for 1986. Although a fast car, the McLaren was designed enitrely for Keke’s team-mate Alain Prost and this compromised Keke’s ability to achieve much with it, despite this nearly winning his finally race with the team. By the end
of 1986 Keke had decided to retire from F1, close friend Elio de Angelis had died in testing and at
the time Keke felt it was time to leave, later though admitting he retired “too soon”.
Keke moved into sportscar racing in the late 80’s and early 90’s, driving a Ferrari in the Spa 24 hrs and for the Peugeot factory team in the World Sportscar Championship and Le Mans 24 hour. Before his full retirement from motorsport (at the end of 1995), Keke spent a few seasons driving in the DTM with Mercedes and Opel, before setting up his own team in 1995. Team Rosberg has competed in Formula BMW, German F3, the F3 Euroseries and A1 GP, and continues to this day in the DTM and FIA GT3 Championship, running Audi’s in both series. The Rosberg name also continues in Formula 1 to this day through Keke’s high talented son Nico Rosberg.