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Rosberg: A prince born to be F1 king

2014-11-21 08:01

ANOTHER MERCEDES 1-2: Mercedes' Nico Rosberg (left) and Lewis Hamilton - who won - on the podium after the nail-biting 2014 Spanish F1 GP at Montmelo, near Barcelona. Image: AFP / Luis Gene

ABU DHABI, UAE - Nico Rosberg's first recollection of Formula 1 came in Monaco when, asleep on a yacht in the harbour, he was woken by the sound of Ayrton Senna's McLaren screaming through the tunnel.

Fast forward to 2014: the son of 1982 champion Keke Rosberg arrives for the Abu Dhabi GP with a very real shot at his own F1 title.


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He won't care a jot but should he prevail over Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton on Sunday he will inevitably go down in F1 history as the lucky 'double points' champion.

FRIENDSHIP UNDER STRAIN

In any previous season Hamilton, who has a 17-point lead in the Drivers' championship, could finish as low as sixth in the race to guarantee his second title, even if Rosberg won this the season-closer, but with controversial double points going to the winner this year, victory in the Gulf desert for Rosberg would see him claim the Drivers' crown if Hamilton slips up and finishes no better than third.

Win or lose, nobody can deny Rosberg has played his part in a season which pushed his boyhood friendship with Hamilton almost to breaking point. With his ice-cool exterior, Rosberg is the antithesis of the far more demonstrative Hamilton.

He has needed all his reserves of sang-froid to deal with a season dripping with drama, most of it served up by the Mercedes men. A simmering on-track feud threatened to boil over in Monaco and did after incidents in Hungary and Spa, when he came under attack for colliding with his team mate's car.

BORN TO RACE

Though booed by fans at Spa and Monza, Rosberg won back many admirers with his professionalism and consistency at Interlagos when he backed up his 10th pole start of the year with his fifth win of the season to set up this Sunday's decider.

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP finale this weekend.

Unlike Hamilton, he was born to race, sitting in a car for the first time aged four, with Keke in the passenger seat. With the guiding presence of his Finnish father, Wiesbaden-born German Rosberg graduated from karting to claiming the GP2 crown in 2005.

He was given his F1 break by Williams the next year, scoring points on his debut in Bahrain when his then team mate Mark Webber coined the nickname 'Britney' (Spears) for his pop-star good looks. He  shared his first F1 podium, third in 2008, with Hamilton.

He linked up with Mercedes in 2010, constantly out-performing seven-times champion Michael Schumacher and winning the first of eight races in China. So far in 2014 he's married Vivian Sibold, seen his country win the soccer World Cup, and signed a new contract with Mercedes - all that's left is the little matter of the Drivers' title.

PLACE IN THE SUN

He was asked once what effect having Keke as his father had had on him. He replied: "For me it was a normality having a father who was a world champion. I grew up with that, so it was never an extra pressure.

"I've never felt the need to emerge from his shadow."

Whatever, he might just do it on Sunday under the Arabian desert sun.

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