We knew before the weekend started that one of the Mercedes drivers would win the Drivers World Championship in Abu Dhabi, but as he has done all season Nico Rosberg just did enough to seal the deal for 2016 for his first title.
That isn’t to say that Lewis Hamilton made it easy for him, of course he didn’t. Backing the German into the following pack for Red Bull and Ferrari drivers, they were in a position many time during the race to get ahead of Rosberg and spoil his party for the day. It very nearly happened with Max Verstappen going off plan with a one stop strategy after spinning at the first corner on the very first lap, and then Sebastian Vettel running longer on his second set of tyres which gave him the opportunity to take the supersoft tyre at the end of the race, and attack.
That isn’t an experience Nico Rosberg wants to relive though, “I hope I don’t experience that again any time soon though! The battle with Max, the pressure at the end, Lewis driving slow – the feelings during that were just unreal. Crazy. It was so intense, it’s going to take some time [to get over]. Those last couple of laps, with those two behind and knowing if I dropped behind them it was over – not enjoyable!”
Ever the gentleman, Nico thanked those close to him, including that of Lewis who has been his close adversary throughout his career, usually with the British driver winning, “It feels like I’ve been racing Lewis for ever, and he’s always just managed to edge me out, even when we were small in karts, so that makes this even more satisfying. He’s an amazing driver, a phenomenal benchmark. I took the championship away from him. And just five points in it at the end, that’s unbelievable.
“For sure mental strength is a key ingredient to where I am now. And my dad and mum have been such a big part of this, just massive. But it’s also everybody who supports me in the world – everyone who came this weekend, the people close to me, my team, my racing family, my family.
“Every Saturday night I get a message from my dad, normally it’s ‘pedal to the metal!’ Everybody has their part of this.”
Commenting on the methods Lewis employed during the race, Nico wasn’t surprised, “Lewis was using all his skill to do it perfectly, so there was no way for me to manage to get by. It was so intense in the car – I’ve never felt something like that before in the car. I’m sure the next few days will be pretty crazy, but I look forward to that – it’s going to be special. And tonight is going to be nuts, absolutely insane!”