From an inferior car on a karting circuit and limited resources to a Formula One double world champion.
Germany’s Nico Rosberg won his first Formula One world championship after finishing second in a tense Abu Dhabi Grand Prix won by Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
After all the suspense and expectation, Sunday’s race saw Hamilton chalking up his 10th win of the season, and fourth in a row, but powerless to do anything about the championship outcome despite making every effort.
His attempt to push Rosberg into the clutches of those behind him, by deliberately slowing the pace in the closing laps to the concern of team bosses, produced a nail-biting finish with the top four separated by just 1.6 seconds.
|Last 10 world champions|
2016 – Nico Rosberg
2015 – Lewis Hamilton
2014 – Lewis Hamilton
2013 – Sebastian Vettel
2012 – Sebastian Vettel
2011 – Sebastian Vettel
2010 – Sebastian Vettel
2009 – Jenson Button
2008 – Lewis Hamilton
2007 – Kimi Raikkonen
2006 – Fernando Alonso
Rosberg, who had needed only to finish in the top three to be sure of the title, held position to become his country’s third champion after Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.
The son of 1982 title-winner Keke Rosberg is also only the second son of a world champion, after Britain’s Damon Hill, to take the crown.
Hamilton started from pole position and had little trouble winning the day-night race at the 5.554km Yas Marina circuit. But Rosberg had entered the race 12 points ahead of Hamilton in the standings, meaning a podium finish would secure the title regardless of Hamilton’s performance.
Rosberg ends the season on 385 points to Hamilton’s 380 to replicate the title win of his father Keke in 1982.
“Unreal,” Rosberg said on the podium. “I am very, very proud. I have done the same feat as my dad achieved. He will be here in half an hour and I am so excited to see him.”
“That was not the most enjoyable race I’ve had,” he admitted at the end. “I’m glad it’s over and I am absolutely ecstatic.”
In addition to persuading F1’s veteran commercial ring-master Bernie Ecclestone to “eat his words” after saying that a Rosberg title win would be bad for business, he left several other pundits chewing furiously.
“Big congratulations to Nico, good job man,” said Hamilton.
Abu Dhabi GP – Top 10
1. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari
4. Max Verstappen – Red Bull
5. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull
6. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari
7. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India
8. Sergio Perez – Force India
9. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes
10. Fernando Alonso – McLaren