Nico Rosberg overcomes Lewis Hamilton’s negative tactics to win Formula One world title
The German emulates the achievement of his dad, Keke, who became world champion in 1982 by finishing second in Abu Dhabi
Nico Rosberg won his maiden Formula One world title on Sunday by securing second place behind Mercedes arch-rival Lewis Hamilton in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Reigning champion Hamilton ignored team orders in a last bid to block his German teammate. But Rosberg, who started the 21st and final race of 2016 some 12 points clear of Hamilton, would not be denied.
Rosberg’s second place meant he clinched his first championship by five points.
He emulates his father Keke who won the title in 1982.
With the race win – his 10th of the year – assured, Hamilton ignored team orders to speed up as he toyed with the pace, slowing it down in a last-ditch bid to try to allow third-placed Sebastian Vettel and fourth-placed Max Verstappen to overtake Rosberg.
Rosberg returned to applause and cheers from the pits, and lifted F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone up in the air in a massive bear hug.
In contrast there was barely any contact between Rosberg and deposed champion Hamilton before the presentation.
That came on the podium, when Hamilton congratulated his former teenage go-carting companion with a handshake and a hug.
“Big congratulations to Nico, good job man,” said Hamilton.
Rosberg reliving the final tense laps, said: “With the guys [Vettel and Verstappen] coming up behind me the end was not the most enjoyable.
“I’m very proud to have done the same feat as my dad achieved.”
Rosberg was 12 points ahead of his teammate coming into the title showdown and only needed to finish third, even if Hamilton won.
Hamilton blatantly disobeyed team orders to speed up near the end, thus backing Rosberg toward Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen in third and fourth places, respectively.
Vettel could not quite pass Rosberg and he finished third ahead of Verstappen.
Having finished runner-up for the past two seasons, the 31-year-old Rosberg finally gets the better of his teammate.
“That was definitely not the most enjoyable race I’ve had. Can’t believe it’s over. I’m ecstatic,” Rosberg said.
Hamilton, meanwhile, misses out a third straight title and fourth overall, despite ending the year with 10 wins – one more than Rosberg.
Hamilton slowed in the later stages of the race to increase the chances of Rosberg being overtaken by other drivers. If Rosberg had been passed by Vettel and Verstappen and had finsihed fourth, then Hamilton would have held onto his title.
When his team told him over the race radio to up the tempo, Hamilton replied bluntly: “I suggest you guys let us race.”
Even a direct order from Mercedes’ executive director Paddy Lowe four laps from the end did not work.
Rosberg was clearly getting nervous, and Vettel was a wheel’s length away from him on the final lap.
But he kept his cool and his elation was evident as he let out a delighted screech of “Yes! world champion!” when he crossed the line.
Then he jumped out of his car and danced around the track before being hugged by his mechanics.
Hamilton made a point of coming over to congratulate Rosberg and offered him a hug. Rosberg accepted but it was a brief one, and then he carried on celebrating as he was tossed into the air by his Mercedes crew.
Hamilton stood in the corner sipping water as Vettel – himself a four-time F1 champion – smiled and congratulated Rosberg.