2016 Formula 1 champion
Was that your toughest race?
NR: “Yes, definitely. I couldn’t not think about what was at stake. I heard Tony [Ross, his race engineer] saying it was critical to pass Verstappen for the championship. Holy moly! That’s not a nice thing to hear – that was a horrible feeling. But it worked out.”
What was your thinking in those last 10 laps?
NR: “I had Vettel and Verstappen right behind. I wanted to try and hold onto second because once I dropped one, who knows what kind of mess they are going to get into in front. I didn’t want to have Verstappen right behind at the end.”
Did you want to risk a move for the lead?
NR: “I couldn’t, I was trying at times but Lewis was doing it well. He pushed flat-out for Turn 21 all the way to the first sector and then halfway through the second sector. And that’s where you overtake. I couldn’t get close enough. He was doing it perfectly and there was no way for me.”
Were you expecting Hamilton to back the pack up into you?
NR: “I wasn’t expecting it, no. Maybe that was a bit naive. It’s easy to understand the team’s side, because we do a certain thing all year, it doesn’t change just in the last race. But at the same time, you can understand Lewis because it’s the world championship and we are out there fighting.”
Did you have to go to another level to take the title?
NR: “It’s been my best season and I’ve done my best races this year. The last couple of races, that’s not the real Nico. The pressure slows you. Lewis on the other hand had nothing to lose. The last races have been the best Lewis we’ve seen because he has no pressure, super motivated, concentrated, and nothing to lose.”