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Nico Rosberg wins F1 world title

Associated Press Associated Press 27/11/2016

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has won his first Formula One world championship after finishing second at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Rosberg finished the race behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, who claimed his 53rd race win, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel third, the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo fourth and fifth respectively.

It was a tight finish as Hamilton blatantly disobeyed team orders to speed up near the end, thus backing Rosberg toward Vettel and Verstappen.

Having finished runner-up for the past two seasons, the 31-year-old Rosberg finally emulates his father Keke who won the F1 title in 1982.

"That was definitely not the most enjoyable race I've had. Can't believe it's over. I'm ecstatic," Rosberg said.

"It was so intense, the race, so tough."

Rosberg repeatedly wiped his face and lowered his head several times in the post-race news conference, appearing emotionally exhausted as he tilted back into his chair and rubbed his eyes.

Still, he expects to find plenty of energy to celebrate his win.

"Tonight's going to be absolutely nuts," he said. "I don't think I'm going to be available for a few days."

"Two Rosbergs are world champions ... if I've got my statistics right," Rosberg said jokingly, before recounting how his father has adopted a keen but discreet profile.

"Every Saturday night I get a text from him: 'Pedal to the metal.' That's it. It's good that he's let me get on with it."

Hamilton disobeyed team orders to speed up towards the end of the race, even one that came from Mercedes' executive director Paddy Lowe.

The Briton instead elected to drive his own race as he hoped Rosberg would make a mistake and be passed by Vettel and Verstappen to give Hamilton a fourth title.

In the end neither Vettel nor Verstappen could.

"Nico drove well not to make a mistake," Hamilton said.

Rosberg did not criticise Hamilton's tactics, saying he understood that it was the British driver's best chance.

Hamilton was emphatically unapologetic.

"I don't know why they just didn't let us race," Hamilton said.

Rosberg was clearly getting nervous, and Vettel was a wheel's length away from him on the final lap.

But he kept his cool and his elation was evident as he let out a delighted screech of "Yes! World champion" when he crossed the line.

Then he jumped out of his car and danced around the track before being hugged by his mechanics.

Hamilton made a point of coming over to congratulate Rosberg and offered him a hug on the podium, Rosberg accepted but it was a brief one, and then he carried on celebrating as he was tossed into the air by his Mercedes crew.

Rosberg survived earlier drama when he was close to colliding with Verstappen on lap 21 as they jostled for second place.

Verstappen, the youngest driver to win an F1 race, has earned a reputation for his risky overtaking and has upset other drivers this season.

As he and Rosberg jostled for second place, they twice almost came into contact, but Rosberg showed great courage to then overtake him.

"The battle out there with Max was unreal. I don't want to experience that again sometime soon," Rosberg said. "Max went full on aggressive. As usual."

While Ricciardo again drove a solid race to finish fifth and claimed third in the championship he was once again left to rue a strategic decision.

Ricciardo pitted early, while teammate Verstappen went for a one-stop strategy that ultimately lifted him above the Australian on race day.

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