A tearful Lewis Hamilton joined the elite ranks of double Formula One world champions after a nerve-racking drive to victory in the floodlit season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

In a race overshadowed by the ever-present spectre of mechanical failure after the Briton's Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg suffered an early loss of power, Hamilton powered to his 11th win in 19 races.

The 29-year-old, who took his first title with McLaren in 2008, became Britain's first multiple champion since Jackie Stewart in 1971 and only the country's fourth.

Hamilton, crying on the podium as the anthem sounded and with his voice cracking in later interviews, performed a slowing down lap with the British flag fluttering from the cockpit and the words 'Hammer Time' written on it.

"World champion. Oh my God, I can't believe it, thanks everyone," he had shouted over the radio before parking up and embracing his father, pop star girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and family.

The victory was a record 16th of the season for Mercedes, who had already collected the constructors' crown, and for the first time the winner took 50 points in an unprecedented and controversial double points finale.

"This has been just an incredible year. I can't believe how amazing," said Hamilton. "This is the greatest moment in my life. It feels very surreal. (Winning in) 2008 was special but the feeling I have now is above and beyond. It's the greatest feeling I've ever had. Thanks so much everyone."

Rosberg finished 14th after starting on pole position and 17 points adrift, the much-vaunted 'duel in the desert' becoming a nightmare after dark for the German son of Finland's 1982 champion Keke.

Drivers

1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 384
2. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 317
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull 238
4. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 186
5. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 167
6. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 161
7. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams 134
8. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 126
9. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 96
10. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 59
11. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) McLaren 55
12. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 55
13. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 22
14. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 8
15. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso 8
16. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus 2
17. Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia 2
18. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Sauber 0
19. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Caterham 0
20. Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber 0
21. Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia 0
22. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Caterham 0
23. Will Stevens (Britain) Caterham 0

Constructors
1. Mercedes 701
2. RedBull - Renault 405
3. Williams-Mercedes 320
4. Ferrari 216
5. McLaren 181
6. Force India - Mercedes 155
7. Toro Rosso - Renault 30
8. Lotus - Renault 10
9. Marussia - Ferrari 2
10. Sauber - Ferrari 0
11. Caterham - Renault 0