Nico Rosberg Wins First Career Formula 1 World Championship

It’s not often that a driver who wins 10 races in one season in any form of motorsport doesn’t win the title at season’s end. However, for three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, that was exactly the case this season in Formula 1.

His teammate at Mercedes AMG-Petronas, Nico Rosberg, ended up earning his first career world championship. Hamilton won the season finale at Abu Dhabi, while Rosberg came home second. To win the world title, Hamilton would have had to win the race and have hoped that Rosberg would finish fourth or below, something that the Brit admitted was “pretty impossible” before the contest at the Yas Marina Circuit took place on Sunday.

Rosberg began the season brilliantly, winning the first four Grand Prix’s of the season and establishing a 40+ point lead over Hamilton. But through the summer months, Hamilton gained ground back. However, one thing kept plaguing Mercedes: drama.

Whether it was the two teammates breaking the golden rule of racing (don’t wreck your teammate) in Spa, or Hamilton slyly accusing the team of sabotaging his car due to the increased number of mysterious mechanical failures throughout the season, it seemed drama always surrounded the powerhouse team in F1.

Oh, and one more thing: Rosberg and Hamilton don’t like each other—at all. They’ve openly talked about not being fond of each other, and their ongoing rivalry has reared its ugly head in the past couple seasons. Both have ignored team orders on track, which has led to an immense amount of stress on team boss Toto Wolf and executive technical director Paddy Lowe.

Rosberg was understandably emotional on the team radio following the conclusion of the race.

“It’s a childhood dream come true,” he told his team, getting choked up. “Thank you for everything.”

His father, Keke, won the world championship back in 1982, and now the Rosberg’s are the second father-son duo to accomplish the feat (Graham and Damon Hill).

“I’m very, very proud to have done the same feat as my father,” Rosberg told reporters on the podium after the race. But he added “those last few laps were not enjoyable,” with a chuckle, as he glanced in the direction of his team and his wife, Vivian.

Hamilton’s drive to win came through again on Sunday, though. He purposefully slowed his pace down in an effort to bunch up the top four (Hamilton, Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen), which was successful. By doing this, Hamilton hoped that Vettel (who had fresher tires) and Verstappen would pass the eventual German world champion and put Hamilton in the driver’s seat. However, it was not meant to be.

“It feels like I’ve been racing Lewis forever, and he’s always just managed to edge me out, even when we were small in karts,” Rosberg explained. “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 (ahead) at the end, that’s unbelievable.”