Thursday, February 23, 2017

Nico Rosberg wins his maiden Formula 1 title, Lewis Hamilton wins Abu Dhabi GP

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg celebrates on the podium after winning the Drivers’ Championship title during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

Abu Dhabi: Nico Rosberg’s trademark reserve finally melted allowing a career’s worth of emotions to burst forth as the German clinched his maiden Formula One world championship in yesterday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Rosberg crossed the line 0.439 seconds behind his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, as the Briton, who beat Rosberg to the title the last two seasons, did everything he could to back him up into the clutches of Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.

But Rosberg, who only needed a third place finish to clinch the title, held onto his nerve and second place to follow in the footsteps of his 1982 world champion father Keke.

“We did it, we did it,” he whooped over the team radio. “I’m proud of you,” his wife Vivian, watching from the garage and the first to speak to Rosberg, radioed back.

“I’m very, very glad that it’s over,” he said later on the podium.

Rosberg rounds the season off with nine wins and five more points than Hamilton at the end of a record 21-race long season.

Going into the race 12 points in the lead, he was the odds on favourite to win the championship. But despite holding the clear advantage, it wasn’t quite the straightforward run to the flag as might have been expected.

Hamilton, who had started on pole and led all the way through, began backing Rosberg up into Vettel and Verstappen as the laps ticked down and it became clear his grasp on the championship was slipping.

“Lewis, this is Paddy,” radioed the team’s technical boss Paddy Lowe as Vettel began crowding Rosberg’s mirrors. “We need you to pick up the pace to win this race, that’s an instruction.”

“Right now, I’m losing the world championship, so I’m not bothered if I’m going to lose the race,” Hamilton shot back.

The atmosphere may have been tense between Hamilton, winner of ten races this year, in the immediate aftermath of their battle on track.

But the former childhood friends broke the ice on the podium, shaking hands and exchanging hugs. “That was definitely not the most enjoyable race that I’ve ever had!” a visibly relieved Rosberg said.

“Really not very enjoyable those last laps.”

Sebastian Vettel finished third, the German trying to pass Rosberg but also careful not to be too rash and inadvertently end up influencing the title battle. Verstappen finished fourth, in a race at the end of which the top four were covered by just 1.6 seconds.

Felipe Massa ended his 250th and last Grand Prix in the points in ninth for Williams. Button, also competing in his swansong, retired early in the race with a broken suspension.

Nico in numbers

No. of wins Rosberg registered this season from 21 races

Most number of fastest laps by the German during this season

No. of wins Nico recorded form pole position in 2016

No. of top 10 finishes Rosberg registered this year

No. of podium positions Nico Rosberg registered in 2016

Drivers’ championship Top Five standings
Nico Rosberg 385
Lewis Hamilton 380
Daniel Ricciardo 256
Sebastian Vettel 212
Max Verstappen 204

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