Nico Rosberg has clinched his maiden Formula 1 World Drivers Championship by five points at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he followed Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton who cruised to a dominant victory in the final round of the season.
34 years ago after his father Keke Rosberg claimed his maiden World Driver’s Championship for Williams in 1982, his son Nico Rosberg clinched his first title by five points as he followed his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton who won the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton and Rosberg kept first and second at the start of the 55 lap race as both Red Bulls and Ferrari’s battled for the positions behind.
Max Verstappen was tapped into a spin after the exit of turn one and was a threat to Rosberg’s race and running on a different strategy.
Rosberg overtook the Dutchman and restablished a Silver Arrows one-two and was a couple of seconds behind Hamilton which was more than enough to clinch his maiden title.
Hamilton in his last attempt slowed down in the final stages which pushed Rosberg into Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who was running the faster and fresher super soft tyres.
Vettel quickly passed Ricciardo before finding a way to get by Verstappen and got into DRS range of Rosberg’s W07-Hybrid as Mercedes told Hamilton to pick up his pace.
However Hamilton’s plan did not come to fruition and failed to influence the outcome of the championship and he lead the top four home covered by over one-and-a-half seconds.
Hamilton took his 10th victory of the season and the 53rd of his career.
When the 55 lap Abu Dhabi Grand Prix began in twilight conditions at the Yas Marina Circuit as the sun set, both Hamilton and Rosberg had a clean start and entering the first corner in-front of the Red Bulls and Ferraris.
Drama struck at the exit of turn one as Verstappen, running on the inside and Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg out wide, slightly touched as it forced the Dutchman into a spin.
Hamilton built one-second gap in the early stages of the race and kept out of DRS range meanwhile Rosberg held Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, Ricciardo and Vettel behind to hold second.
Meanwhile, Verstappen charged his way through the field following his early spin and when the top five came in for their pit stops, the Dutchman was up to second place and behind race-leader Hamilton.
Hamilton and Rosberg were both held in their box at their initial pit-stops as they changed tyres on the same laps as Räikkönen and Vettel came in.
Rosberg was third for the next couple of laps before his engineer told him to push and overtake Verstappen, and putting a DRS-assisted dive at turn 8, which nearly saw the two collide.
Rosberg who was unable to overtake Verstappen at his first opportunity, cut back at the turn 9 apex and got better traction out of the corner to pass the Dutchman before keeping Verstappen at bay down the straight.
Rosberg was the quickest in clean air and after the second round of stops, came very close to his slowing team-mate Hamilton as Vettel who was yet to come in for his final stop, claimed the lead.
Mercedes questioned Hamilton’s eventual drop in pace as Rosberg closed in and Vettel who pitted for a fresh set of red-branded super softs rather than the more durable Softer compounds and charged in on the two Mercedes, Red Bull’s and Ferrari team-mate Raikkonen in-front of him.
Hamilton responded to the continuous messages by the Mercedes team saying: “I’m losing the World Championship, so right now I don’t really care whether I win or lose this race.”
Hamilton needed Vettel and Verstappen to pass Rosberg to snatch the championship but the top four places stayed the same until the end.
Hamilton crossed the line ahead of Rosberg by 0.439 seconds and Vettel a further 0.843 back in third, followed by fourth-placed Verstappen who had a late scare at turn 17, and Ricciardo who completed the top five.
Force India’s Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez came home seventh and eighth respectively as the Silverstone-squad wrapped up fourth in the Constructors Championship with the sole Williams’ of Felipe Massa finishing ninth in his final Grand Prix of his career.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso took the final points position for the Woking-based outfit to come home 10th and ahead of Haas F1 Team’s pairing Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez who came 11th and 12th and were the final three drivers on the lead lap.
The Manor Racing Team duo Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein bumped each other as they came home in 13th and 14th respectively and followed by Sauber pairing Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr who took 15th and 16th and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was the final runner in the field to finish at the rear.
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz tangled wheels with Palmer and retired due to a gearbox issue after his team-mate Daniil Kvyat parked his STR11 off-track, with his own technical issues marking a horrid end to the season for the Faenza-based squad.
McLaren’s Jenson Button retired from his final Grand Prix after attacking the kerbs caused a steering failure and the Briton received a standing ovation as he returned to pit-lane.
Williams Martini Racing’s Valtteri Bottas and Renault’s Kevin Magnussen both retired earlier on with Magnussen boxing it after suffering contact at turn one and Bottas when Williams had a data issue.
The Rosberg’s now join Graham and Damon Hill as the only father-son duo to win a World Championship.
The Full 2016 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Full Race Results Classification (55 Laps):
2016 World Driver’s Championship – Top 5
- Nico Rosberg – 385 Points.
- Lewis Hamilton – 380 Points.
- Daniel Ricciardo – 256 Points.
- Sebastian Vettel – 212 Points.
- Max Verstappen – 204 Points.
2016 World Constructors Championship Standings
- Mercedes AMG F1 – 765 Points.
- Red Bull Racing – 468 Points.
- Scuderia Ferrari – 398 Points.
- Force India F1 – 173 Points.
- Williams Martini Racing – 138 Points.
- McLaren-Honda F1 – 76 Points.
- Scuderia Toro Rosso – 63 Points.
- Haas F1 Team – 29 Points.
- Renault Sport F1 – 8 Points.
- Sauber F1 Team – 2 Points.
- Manor Racing Team – 1 Point.
Written by Michael Terminello