Rosberg: 2016 finale and title just ‘unreal’
Nico Rosberg says it will take time to get over the intensity and drama of his first world championship crown, which was secured after a rollercoaster showdown with Mercedes team mate and three-time champion Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Rosberg entered the race knowing a podium would guarantee him the title, and while he eventually finished second, it was far from comfortable – he was initially bottled up behind Max Verstappen, and then came under severe late pressure from the Dutchman and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who were able to close in as race leader Hamilton dictated the pace out front.
“Two Rosbergs are champions now!” said Nico, who follows in the footsteps of father Keke, F1 champion in 1982. “It’s a really special feeling.
It feels like I’ve been racing Lewis for ever, and he’s always just managed to edge me out
“I hope I don’t experience that again any time soon though! The battle with Max, the pressure at the end, Lewis driving slow – the feelings during that were just unreal. Crazy. It was so intense, it’s going to take some time [to get over]. Those last couple of laps, with those two behind and knowing if I dropped behind them it was over – not enjoyable!”
Rosberg paid tribute to those who have helped him throughout his motorsport career, including Hamilton, against whom he competed as far back as when they were teenagers in karting.
“It feels like I’ve been racing Lewis for ever, and he’s always just managed to edge me out, even when we were small in karts,” he said. “So that makes this even more satisfying. He’s an amazing driver, a phenomenal benchmark. I took the championship away from him. And just five points in it at the end, that’s unbelievable.
“For sure mental strength is a key ingredient to where I am now. And my dad and mum have been such a big part of this, just massive. But it’s also everybody who supports me in the world – everyone who came this weekend, the people close to me, my team, my racing family, my family.
“Every Saturday night I get a message from my dad, normally it’s ‘pedal to the metal!’ Everybody has their part of this.”
Asked about the tactics that played out on the Yas Marina Circuit, Rosberg concluded: “Lewis was using all his skill to do it perfectly, so there was no way for me to manage to get by. It was so intense in the car – I’ve never felt something like that before in the car.
“I’m sure the next few days will be pretty crazy, but I look forward to that – it’s going to be special. And tonight is going to be nuts, absolutely insane!”