King Nico

> Ros­berg takes For­mula One ti­tle from Hamil­ton

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

GER­MANY’S Nico Ros­berg cel­e­brated his first For­mula One world cham­pi­onship yes­ter­day af­ter fin­ish­ing run­ner-up in a tense Abu Dhabi Grand Prix won by Mercedes team­mate Lewis Hamil­ton amid ac­cu­sa­tions of ‘dirty tricks’. Af­ter all the sus­pense and ex­pec­ta­tion, Hamil­ton chalked up his 10th win of the sea­son, and fourth in a row, but was pow­er­less to do any­thing about the cham­pi­onship out­come de­spite mak­ing ev­ery ef­fort. His at­tempt to push Ros­berg into the clutches of those be­hind him, by de­lib­er­ately slow­ing the pace in the clos­ing laps to the con­cern of team bosses, pro­duced a nail-bit­ing fin­ish with the top four sep­a­rated by just 1.6 sec­onds.

“Lewis, this is Paddy we need you to pick up the pace to win this race,” the team’s tech­ni­cal head Paddy Lowe told the Bri­ton over the team ra­dio.

“Right now, I’m los­ing the world cham­pi­onship so I’m not both­ered if I’m go­ing to lose the race,” replied Hamil­ton, who crossed the line 0.4 sec­onds ahead of Ros­berg with Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel third and a fur­ther 0.4 be­hind.

The frosty at­mos­phere be­tween the pair as they waited for the podium cer­e­mony spoke vol­umes, with Ros­berg hoist­ing the sport’s 86year-old com­mer­cial supremo Bernie Ec­cle­stone into the air but ig­nor­ing Hamil­ton.

There was min­i­mal eye con­tact be­tween them, let alone a hand­shake. The hug, the hand­shakes and a word of con­grat­u­la­tion, even­tu­ally came on the podium.

“That was def­i­nitely not the most en­joy­able race I’ve ever had... re­ally not very en­joy­able those last laps,” said Ros­berg in podium in­ter­views con­ducted by former F1 racer David Coulthard.

“I’m glad it’s over, and I am ec­static. It was re­ally in­tense and tough out there.”

Ros­berg, who had needed only to fin­ish in the top three to be sure of the ti­tle, set­tled into sec­ond at the start as Hamil­ton streaked clear but the Bri­ton’s strat­egy was im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent.

He made lit­tle ef­fort to build up a com­mand­ing lead, know­ing that his only hope of be­com­ing Bri­tain’s first four­times cham­pion de­pended on deny­ing Ros­berg clear air and al­low­ing ri­vals to get close enough to pass. “It was tricky at the end there with Lewis play­ing some dirty tricks,” com­mented four-times cham­pion Vet­tel over the ra­dio. Ros­berg, who be­comes his coun­try’s third cham­pion af­ter Michael Schu­macher and Vet­tel, held his nerve and po­si­tion just as he has through­out a sea­son in which he has in­sisted on tak­ing one race at a time. As he crossed the line, the son of 1982 ti­tle-win­ner Keke Ros­berg let out a whoop of relief and joy as he be­came only the sec­ond son of a world cham­pion, af­ter Bri­tain’s Da­mon Hill, to take the crown. In an­other emo­tional touch, the tear­ful 31-year-old’s wife Vi­vian spoke to him over the team ra­dio on his slow­ing down lap to tell him how proud she was. His own pride was equally ev­i­dent. “I am very proud to have done the same feat as my dad achieved, he is go­ing to be com­ing in half an hour I think,” said Ros­berg, whose fa­ther was not at the cir­cuit and has been present for only his home Monaco Grand Prix this year. At the same time, Hamil­ton knew he would have to ex­plain him­self to unim­pressed team bosses. “We first have to speak to him to get an ex­pla­na­tion,” said non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Niki Lauda. “We tried to tell him the dan­ger was com­ing be­cause Vet­tel had the fastest car at the end. Thank god it worked out in the end.” Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen fin­ished fourth, an­other re­mark­able race for the Dutch teenager who spun at the start and fought back from last place. His Aus­tralian team mate Daniel Ric­cia­rdo was fifth. – Reuters

REUTERSPIX

Mercedes’ For­mula One driver Nico Ros­berg of Ger­many cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning the For­mula One world cham­pi­onship. –

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