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Formula 1

Rosberg survives Hamilton’s tactics to claim maiden Formula One title

Nico Rosberg celebrates with his team after winning the Formula One world championship at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Nico Rosberg celebrates with his team after winning the Formula One world championship at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Ahmed Jadallah/REUTERS

Nico Rosberg held his nerves in a tense finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday to claim his maiden Formula One world championship.

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The German driver finished second behind his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to win the title by a mere five points.

Going into the race, Rosberg needed to finish in the top three to win the title. The 31-year-old started steadily in second place behind pole sitter and defending champion Hamilton who needed to finish first and hope Rosberg finished in at least fourth place.

However, there was plenty of drama towards the end as after a series of pit stops Hamilton was still in the lead by lap 34 ahead of Rosberg by 1.3 seconds with Dutch teenage sensation Max Verstappen third and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who was setting fastest laps on fresh tyres, in pursuit of the entire pack.

With 10 laps left, Hamilton slowed down the pace so as to compress the field and create a threat behind Rosberg.

His final lap was a whopping nine seconds slower than his pole position winning lap and was clearly designed to push Rosberg into a vulnerable position. However, Rosberg kept his nerve and became only the second son of a former champion to win the title. His father Keke had claimed the title in 1982.

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

Vettel finished a close third behind Rosberg ahead of Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

It was a disappointing season for Hamilton who failed to defend his title despite winning 10 races in the season, the most by any driver not to win the title.

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