Maiden ti­tle for Ros­berg

> Joins exclusive club of only the sec­ond son of a for­mer cham­pion to take the world crown

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

NICO ROS­BERG clinched his maiden world ti­tle on Sun­day, fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix de­spite Lewis Hamil­ton ig­nor­ing team or­ders in his quest to foil the Ger­man.

The 31-year-old Ros­berg con­cluded the long­est sea­son in the sport’s his­tory with a nail­bit­ing sec­ond place un­der in­tense pres­sure af­ter leader and ul­ti­mate race win­ner Hamil­ton had slowed the field to cre­ate a dif­fi­cult fin­ish.

Hamil­ton reeled off his 10th win of the sea­son and the 53rd of his ca­reer but his games­man­ship up­set his team and his team­mate in the clos­ing laps.

Hamil­ton ig­nored two in­struc­tions from the team to in­crease his speed at the front, but was un­able to cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion in which Ros­berg could be at­tacked and passed.

Ros­berg joined an exclusive club by be­com­ing only the sec­ond son of a for­mer cham­pion to take the ti­tle, his fa­ther Keke hav­ing won the cham­pi­onship 34 years ago with the Wil­liams team.

Bri­ton Da­mon Hill did the same when he won the ti­tle with Wil­liams, fol­low­ing his fa­ther Gra­ham’s achieve­ments, in 1996.

Ros­berg also be­came Ger­many’s third cham­pion.

The ten­sion was pal­pa­ble as the driv­ers headed for the podium af­ter the race in which Vet­tel fin­ished third for Fer­rari ahead of Dutch­man Max Ver­stap­pen and his Red Bull team­mate Daniel Ric­cia­rdo.

Ros­berg cel­e­brated by giv­ing F1 supremo Bernie Ec­cle­stone a mas­sive bear hug, lift­ing the diminu­tive oc­to­ge­nar­ian high into the air, as Hamil­ton stared glumly at the floor.

Ros­berg re­liv­ing the fi­nal tense laps, said: “With the guys (Vet­tel and Ver­stap­pen) com­ing up be­hind me the end was not the most en­joy­able.

“I’m very proud to have done the same feat as my Dad achieved.”

On the podium Hamil­ton’s good grace re­turned and he gave his for­mer teenage go-cart­ing com­pan­ion a hand­shake and a hug.

As the sun de­scended at the end of a hot, dry and dusty day at the Yas Ma­rina cir­cuit, Hamil­ton made a per­fect start from his 61st pole po­si­tion to lead away from Ros­berg.

In a fran­tic open­ing lap, Ver­stap­pen spun af­ter touch­ing the Force In­dia car of Ger­man Nico Hulken­berg, drop­ping him to 17th as he re­joined and ad­vanced through the pack.

Af­ter a se­ries of pit stops and mid-field scraps Hamil­ton was left in con­trol by lap 34 ahead of Ros­berg by 1.3 sec­onds with Ver­stap­pen third and Vet­tel, set­ting fastest laps, climb­ing back to fifth to launch him­self in pur­suit of the two Red Bulls.

“Ok, Lewis, we re­ally need to pick up the pace,” Hamil­ton is told by his team. “Vet­tel is a threat.”

For the de­fend­ing cham­pion, it was the news he wanted to hear, even if for Mercedes it pre­sented a dilemma.

With 10 laps re­main­ing, it was ob­vi­ous Hamil­ton was driv­ing as cau­tiously as he could to REUTERSPIX

com­press the field and cre­ate a threat be­hind Ros­berg.

“Ok, Lewis, this is an in­struc­tion – we need 45.1 – this is for a win, said the team on Hamil­ton’s ra­dio on lap 46. “You should just let us race,” he replied.

Mercedes tech­ni­cal team chief Paddy Lowe fol­lowed on the ra­dio. “Lewis, this is Paddy. We need you to pick up the pace to win this race. That’s an in­struc­tion.”

“I am ac­tu­ally in the lead right now,” said Hamil­ton. Lowe’s face on the pit wall fell in de­spair.

On lap 51, Vet­tel passed Ver­stap­pen for third with a bold move to in­crease the ten­sion, leav­ing Hamil­ton back­ing Ros­berg back to­wards the charg­ing Fer­rari, but he sur­vived to take his ti­tle. – AFP

Mercedes’ For­mula One driver Nico Ros­berg (cen­tre) cel­e­brates with his team af­ter win­ning the For­mula One world cham­pi­onship at the Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit in Abu Dhabi on Sun­day. –

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.