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Hamilton wins Abu Dhabi but Rosberg is World champion

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Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | AFP |

Nico Rosberg won his maiden Formula One world title by securing second place behind his Mercedes arch-rival Lewis Hamilton in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

Rosberg started the 21st and final race of 2016 12 points clear of Hamilton and despite the British reigning champion doing everything he could, Rosberg took second to clinch his first championship by five points.

He emulates his father Keke who won the title in 1982.

Formula One world champions after Nico Rosberg won the 2016 title on Sunday (year, driver, nationality, team):

1950 Guiseppe Farina (ITA) Alfa Romeo

1951 Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Alfa Romeo

1952 Alberto Ascari (ITA) Ferrari

1953 Alberto Ascari (ITA) Ferrari

1954 Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Maserati

1955 Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Mercedes

1956 Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Ferrari

1957 Juan Manuel Fangio (ARG) Maserati

1958 Mike Hawthorn (ENG) Ferrari

1959 Jack Brabham (AUS) Cooper

1960 Jack Brabham (AUS) Cooper

1961 Phil Hill (USA) Ferrari

1962 Graham Hill (ENG) BRM

1963 Jim Clark (SCO) Lotus

1964 John Surtees (ENG) Ferrari

1965 Jim Clark (SCO) Lotus

1966 Jack Brabham (AUS) Brabham

1967 Denis Hulme (NZL) Brabham

1968 Graham Hill (ENG) Lotus

1969 Jackie Stewart (SCO) Matra

1970 Jochen Rindt (AUS) Lotus

1971 Jackie Stewart (SCO) Tyrrell

1972 Emerson Fittipaldi (BRA) Lotus

1973 Jackie Stewart (SCO) Tyrrell

1974 Emerson Fittipaldi (BRA) McLaren

1975 Niki Lauda (AUT) Ferrari

1976 James Hunt (ENG) McLaren

1977 Niki Lauda (AUT) Ferrari

1978 Mario Andretti (USA) Lotus

1979 Jody Scheckter (RSA) Ferrari

1980 Alan Jones (AUS) Williams

1981 Nelson Piquet (BRA) Brabham

1982 Keke Rosberg (FIN) Williams

1983 Nelson Piquet (BRA) Brabham

1984 Niki Lauda (AUT) McLaren

1985 Alain Prost (FRA) McLaren

1986 Alain Prost (FRA) McLaren

1987 Nelson Piquet (BRA) Williams

1988 Ayrton Senna (BRA) McLaren

1989 Alain Prost (FRA) McLaren

1990 Ayrton Senna (BRA) McLaren

1991 Ayrton Senna (BRA) McLaren

1992 Nigel Mansell (ENG) Williams

1993 Alain Prost (FRA) Williams

1994 Michael Schumacher (GER) Benetton

1995 Michael Schumacher (GER) Benetton

1996 Damon Hill (ENG) Williams

1997 Jacques Villeneuve (CAN) Williams

1998 Mika Hakkinen (FIN) McLaren

1999 Mika Hakkinen (FIN) McLaren

2000 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari

2001 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari

2002 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari

2003 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari

2004 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari

2005 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault

2006 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault

2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari

2008 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren

2009 Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn

2010 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull

2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull

2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull

2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull

2014 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes

2015 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes

2016 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes

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Earlier today

Lewis Hamilton led Nico Rosberg into the first corner in Sunday’s explosive title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina circuit on Sunday.


At the end of a compelling season in which both drivers’ fortunes have ebbed and flowed Rosberg holds a precious 12-point advantage in the drivers standings over his Mercedes teammate.

But it was Hamilton in the lead from Rosberg at the start of the deciding final race of the season.

The German will emulate his father Keke, the 1982 champion, and claim his maiden title if he finishes in the top three – irrespective of where his friend and foe Hamilton comes in.

The title protagonists cut relaxed figures in the pre-race drivers parade, the nerves well hidden under the sunglasses protecting them from the brilliant setting sun.

Hamilton told Channel 4: “There are lots of Brits here to support me, there’s an incredible amount of positive energy.

“I planned to get pole, that’s where I am but so much can happen, I’ve just got to focus that I can win.”

Standing beside him Rosberg as he has done throughout was keeping his emotions in check.

“I’m trying to keep it business as usual, not easy in the circumstances, but I’m liking the car, it’s fast.”

Rosberg has had to sit and suffer as his Mercedes teammate ran off with the drivers crown in 2014 and 2015.

But after a gripping 2016 season played out over a record 21 races the calm and cool German is now so close to the F1 holy grail he can see his image reflected on the trophy.

Hamilton has rattled off wins in the last three races in the United States, Mexico and Brazil to ensure the title goes down to the last throw of the dice at Abu Dhabi’s glittering floodlit desert venue.

Hamilton bossed qualifying on Saturday to take pole, with Rosberg alongside him on the front row.

For Hamilton, whose roller-coaster season has been marred by some desperate bad luck, he will need the F1 gods to be in a particularly malevolent mood towards his rival if he is to join the exclusive club of drivers who have won four titles.

 Tens of millions 

“I’m the champion in my own heart, whatever happens,” Hamilton remarked provocatively on Friday.

For Mercedes the Rosberg v Hamilton rivalry is priceless promotion for their brand, with team principal Toto Wolff keeping the box-office drama on the road.

Which is more than his drivers managed to do in Spain when they wiped each other out with a first lap crash.

Wolff, like tens of millions of F1 fans, is anticipating a mighty scrap in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s normal that here this is like a volcano to erupt with two of them, the two very different personalities,” he predicted.

“One is going to dig a little deeper, the other one is going to do it in a different way… ”

Sunday’s title showdown evokes memories of the infamous climax to the 1990 championship, when Ayrton Senna took his McLaren team-mate Alain Prost out at the first corner in Japan.

Wolff though is adamant that will not be repeated.

“I think it is very difficult to construct such a situation and make it work. I don’t think that’s the way Nico operates and it would certainly not look very good.”

Aside from the destination of the 2016 championship Sunday’s race spells retirement for two of the sports most cherished stars – 2009 world champion Jenson Button and Brazilian Felipe Massa.

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