Like father like son. The newly crowned World Champion Nico Rosberg has emulated his father’s feat after 34 years. His father Keke was the 1982 F1 champion and that made Rosberg’s title win at Abu Dhabi even sweeter. Rosberg had a great F1 season but this year’s World Championship could only be decided in the last race of the season at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday November 27. Lewis Hamilton was the winner but he couldn’t be crowned champion. All Rosberg needed to do was finish at least third at Abu Dhabi; he did better than that. While Hamilton was the race winner, Rosberg took the second place and emerged as the 2016 World Championship by a margin of 5 points. Yet, there were dramatics in the race with Hamilton ignoring team-Mercedes’ orders. The Brit was instructed not to back his teammate into close rivals Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen but he defied the team orders. As for Nico Rosberg, he kept his cool and by finishing at the podium, won the World Championship for the first time in his career.
The season-ending Abu Dhabi F1 GP on Sunday November 27 was destined to make either Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton as the 2016 World Championship. No other driver came even remotely close. Rosberg came to the desert race as heavy favorite with a 12 point lead over Hamilton at the start and a third-place finish was enough for him to finish on tops. Ironically, however, Lewis Hamilton couldn’t have won the world championships on his own performance and his best chance was Rosberg finishing fourth or below. This made the Mercedes’ British driver brazenly defiant as he indulged in attempts to secure second and third places for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Despite instructions to help his teammate and follow team orders, Hamilton purposely slowed down to set out a design of sending his teammate Rosberg behind his nearest pursuers so that he doesn’t end up at the podium. Hamilton’s selfish idea was in a very poor taste and it boomeranged on him in the end. He took the top podium alright, but couldn’t prevent his teammate Rosberg from finishing second. The ruse also lent Hamilton into potentially serious differences with Mercedes Team managers since he created a situation akin to anarchy.
As the race began, Hamilton broke away instantly into the lead with Rosberg on the chase. Max Verstappen had a contact with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and went into a bad spin on the first corner. He soon dropped to 18th place. On Lap-8, Rosberg went for tyre change and Verstappen regained 11th spot. On Lap-20, there was some scare for Rosberg as he came dangerously close to Verstappen in trying to overtake the Red Bull driver. It was tyre-to-tyre but Rosberg was able to push Verstappen wide on the outside lane and sped away to fall behind Hamilton. On Laps 28 & 29, Hamilton and Rosberg made their second pit stops in that order and when they came out, they fell behind current leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari. Vettel finally went to pits on Lap-38 and Hamilton and Rosberg regained the first and second places yet again. But the desert drama was yet to begin.
With four laps remaining, the top four drivers were separated by just 4 seconds. Hamilton was in the lead with Rosberg less than 1 second behind and the two were closely followed by Vettel and Verstappen. At this point, Hamilton began slowing down to block the passages of his pursuers. It looked like he engineered to send his teammate behind Vettel and Verstappen. The fourth place finish would have ended Rosberg’s World Championship dream and if Vettel could also overtake Hamilton, Mercedes managers would become furious. Therefore, they repeatedly urged Hamilton to speed up the race but the Brit kept defying them. With one lap remaining Vettel did try to overtake Rosberg but the Mercedes driver fended him off. Rosberg was reminded by Mercedes managers that he had to avoid any entanglement with seconds remaining. The drama soon ended with Hamilton winning the race. The 2016 World Championship, however, went to Nico Rosberg as he finished second. Sebastian Vettel was third followed by Max Verstappen. Daniel Ricciardo was fifth and Kimi Raikkonen sixth. Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finished seventh and eighth respectively followed by Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.
Rosberg waved to the crowds that included celebrated tennis ace Roger Federer and his wife Mirka. Then he danced around the track in rejoicing his first World Championship title. But after acting selfishly, Hamilton looked drawn away from the proceedings. He gave an awkward hug to his teammate but appeared lost for words. Incidentally, Rosberg joined his father Keke, who won the World Championship in 1982. In F1 history, they became only the second ever farther-son combination to achieve this success after Graham and Damon Hill did so in 1982 and 1996 respectively.
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