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Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Nico Rosberg: Being world champion is a unique feeling

German says it’s ‘unreal’ to emulate the feat of his father Keke, the 1982 champion

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A relieved and jubilant Nico Rosberg savoured “the unique feeling” of winning his maiden Formula One world drivers’ championship on Sunday, but admitted: “It was a very, very tough weekend for me.”

The 31-year-old German finished second behind his Mercedes teammate and his ferociously competitive defending champion Lewis Hamilton in the season-ending Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to seal the title by five points.

Rosberg also became the second son of an F1 world champion to emulate his dad’s feat — which Keke achieved in 1982 — after Graham and Damon Hill.

“I am very, very glad that it’s over,” said Rosberg after the Yas Marina Circuit race. “It’s a unique feeling. It’s unreal. I am very, very proud. I have done the same feat my dad achieved.”

“He will be here in half an hour and I am so excited to see him,” Rosberg added. “Every Saturday night, I get a message from him and most of the time it’s like ‘pedal to the metal’ tomorrow, full stop, exclamation mark.”

Remarkably, Hamilton won a record 10 races without winning his fourth global crown.

He said, despite facing a possible reprimand from his team for twice disobeying official instructions to drive faster, he felt proud and pleased with his own display.

“Honestly, I feel great and I want to say thanks to my family for all the support, and this team — I think that’s 32 wins since I joined this team.”

Hamilton added: “I did all I could and Nico had a clean year and without any issues, but he did a fantastic job and it is a great feeling to win the championship. Congratulations to him.”

On the team’s promptings to make him drive faster, he said: “I don’t know why they just didn’t let us race.”

It was the 53rd win of Hamilton’s career, but his antics irked his team and Rosberg in the closing laps and the team’s technical chief Paddy Lowe came on the radio to order him to speed up.

His final lap was nine seconds slower than the lap that took him to pole and was clearly designed to push Rosberg into an awkward position as Sebastian Vettel closed in in his Ferrari.

Hamilton ignored two instructions from the team to go quicker, but was unable to engineer a situation in which Rosberg could be attacked and passed.

Third place went to Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion, who eulogised Rosberg thus: “In my point of view, I don’t think you win world championships by luck. Sometimes you might have fortunate situations and unfortunate situations in cars and sometimes have a better year.

“Today, Nico is world champion and is a deserved world champion.”