CONGRATS, CHAMP! Nico Rosberg celebrating his first championship with his wife and crew. Image: AFP / Andrej Isakovic
Sao Paulo - Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton controlled the Abu Dhabi GP, but team mate Nico Rosberg took his very first title at the Yas Marina race track.
Rosberg realised a dream and silenced his critics Sunday (Nov 27) when he emulated his father Keke's achievement and claimed his maiden F1 Drivers' championship.
By beating his Mercedes team mate and three-time champion Lewis Hamilton the usually-reserved Rosberg did far more than that.
READ: As it happened - 2016 Abu Dhabi GP
Hamilton's Monza mistake, cruising to victory in China, avoiding mechanical gremlins... we reflect on Rosberg's five F1 title-clinching moments in 2016:
Top 5 moments
Rosberg wasted no time in setting down a massive marker with a season-opening win in Melbourne. Not for the last time in 2016 Hamilton gifted the German a decisive advantage, the defending champion dropping from pole to sixth by the first turn.
READ: As it happened: 2016 Australian GP
A sweet moment for Rosberg, who for the first time in 18 months led Hamilton in the drivers' standings.
In China, Rosberg romped to his third win from three races, dominating from the front to go 36 points clear of Hamilton who had a Shanghai nightmare. He started from the back of the grid after a mechanical failure sabotaged his qualifying.
In the race itself Hamilton's front wing snapped off leaving him driving what he lambasted as "a four poster bed" into seventh. The ever-cautious Rosberg refused to get carried away by talk of his first title. "It's too early to make any premature conclusions," he said, but the omens were looking encouraging with the F1 gods smiling down on him.
Hamilton's Monza mistake
Rosberg spoke before Monza of how the start could prove crucial, and it did. Pole sitter Hamilton lost the race in the first 20 metres with a terrible getaway as Rosberg reeled off back-to-back wins to reignite his title challenge after Hamilton's mid-season resurgence, cutting the Briton's lead to two points. "Good job!" Hamilton grimaced as he shook hands with Rosberg afterwards.
If ever anyone had doubted Rosberg's title ambitions the methodical German's third straight win on the streets of Singapore underlined his claims to the championship in his 200th start. His win came on the back of a superb show in qualifying, when he outstripped his stablemate by 0.7 sec after what he rated "one of my top three laps".
A roller coaster season had seen his 43-point lead over Hamilton turn into a 19-point deficit, but he clawed his way back into contention with six races to go.
Slice of luck
Rosberg received a huge slice of luck in Malaysia when Hamilton, who had stormed to a record pole, was cruising to victory only to suffer his latest misfortune when his engine blew up with only 15 laps left.
"No, no!" cried Hamilton into the team radio as flames appeared out of the back of his car, Rosberg survived a first bend spin and a 10-second penalty to take third behind Daniel Ricciardo and extend his championship lead to 23 points.