Belfast Telegraph

Beating Lewis Hamilton to title so sweet: F1 champion Nico Rosberg

By Philip Duncan

An emotional Nico Rosberg admitted that beating his long-term rival Lewis Hamilton to the World Championship made his maiden Formula One title triumph all the more satisfying.

Rosberg survived a nail-biting conclusion to the sport's longest-ever season in Abu Dhabi as Hamilton's desperate ploy to back him into the clutches of the chasing pack failed.

The German, who needed to finish in the top three, survived a late onslaught from Sebastian Vettel, with Max Verstappen also breathing down his neck, to clinch the title. His second place, behind race winner Hamilton, meant Rosberg was champion.

Rosberg, who has been racing Hamilton in a rivalry which dates back to their early teenage years, had never previously beaten the British driver over the course of one season.

But after finishing five points clear of his Mercedes team-mate, despite winning one fewer race, Rosberg has finally put an end to his long-running losing streak.

"I've been racing him forever and he's always just managed to edge me out and get the title - even when we were small in go karts," said Rosberg, who had been beaten to the title by Hamilton in the past two seasons.

"He's an amazing driver and one of the best in history, so it's unbelievably special to beat him because the level is high and that makes this even more satisfying.

"He is the benchmark and I took the World Championship away from him which is a phenomenal feeling."

A little more than 12 months ago Rosberg was a broken man after seeing Hamilton win the title in Texas with three races to spare, but he attributed the failing to his championship success.

Rosberg went on to win the final three races of last season before opening his championship-winning campaign with four straight victories.

"That was a big turning point," Rosberg added. "I didn't ever want to experience that again. I went and won the next seven races, so it was a big moment."

Nico's father Keke, the 1982 World champion, joined the party. He revealed: "I took a sip from my beer, and thought 'This is going to get hot'."

The Rosbergs become only the second father-son dynasty to win the F1 Championship after Graham and Damon Hill.

Jenson Button failed to finish what is set to be his final grand prix after he damaged his suspension. Felipe Massa, also retiring from the sport, was ninth.

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