Nico Rosberg is the 2016 FIA F1 World Champion, writes James Beckett.
In a thrilling final round of the season at the Yas Marina track in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, Rosberg held his nerve to claim the second place he needed to secure his maiden world title.
Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton did all he could by dominating the weekend and driving to a fourth straight race victory, but Rosberg, safe in the knowledge a podium finish was all he needed, stayed calm to take second place.
“This is an amazing feeling! I have battled for this moment all my career and to become the F1 World Champion as a Mercedes driver is very special,” said the elated German, who won nine races this season to Hamilton’s 10.
By winning the title, Rosberg joins an elite band of drivers to follow in the wheel tracks of their father and become world champion. Keke Rosberg, Nico’s father, was world champion for Williams in 1982.
For the third successive year, 2016 has boiled down to a straight fight between the Mercedes duo and after Hamilton prevailed on the two previous occasions, it was Rosberg’s time to shine.
Rosberg jumped out of the blocks at the start of the season, winning the opening four races before the duo clashed in Spain and both retired, it was Hamilton who became the dominant force.
However, after the short summer break, Rosberg who emerged as the faster driver and enjoyed greater reliability as Hamilton suffered an engine failure while leading in Malaysia - perhaps the decisive moment of the season.
The British man did fight back in the closing four races but it was too little too late.
Rosberg was quick to thank his Brackley-based team, who earlier clinched the Constructors’ title, by saying: “The whole team have done an amazing job this year.
“The car has been superb at every race and I have in some ways had an easy job. All I have had to do is drive the car quickly and score wins or good results.
“This has been an amazing season, and I will always remember winning the title as a member of the Silver Arrows.”
A disconsolate but magnanimous Hamilton commented: “I want to say well done to Nico for winning the championship. I did everything I could to win the title and won the race. I couldn’t do anything else.”
The title race went down to the final laps of the final race as Hamilton’s ploy of slowing down and bunching up the cars meant barely two seconds separated the top four at the chequered flag.
Hamilton’s tactics caused some controversy, not least among his team, but he defended his actions, adding: “I had to win, but I also needed some luck.
“I did everything I could within my power to try and win the title. I will be back next year looking for title number four.”