Lewis Hamilton clinched his second Formula One world championship when he won Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, while Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo came third in the overall standings.
The 29-year-old Englishman, who took his first title in 2008 with McLaren, won not only the 55-lap race, but also his private duel with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who suffered prolonged problems.
Having begun from pole for the 11th time this year, Rosberg was comprehensively outpaced immediately as Hamilton surged clear in a well-judged and dominant performance.
Hamilton’s victory was his 11th of the season and the 33rd of his record-breaking career and secured a record 16th victory of the year for the Mercedes team.
Rosberg finished 14th, lapped by Hamilton and bitterly disappointed.
As Hamilton roared his delight – “Whoooah world champion – Oh my God, cannot believe it – thanks everyone” – Prince Harry responded on the team radio. “Thank you very much Lewis for not letting the British public down – you are a legend.”
Hamilton became the fourth British driver to win more than one championship, joining Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark and Graham Hill.
Hamilton came home 2.5 seconds clear of second-placed Felipe Massa of Williams and his teammate Valterri Bottas.
Ricciardo was fourth for Red Bull ahead of Briton Jenson Button in what might be his last race with McLaren, Nico Hulkenberg and his Force India teammate Sergio Perez.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel finished eighth in his final race with Red Bull, one position ahead of the man he replaces at Ferrari next season, Fernando Alonso, and Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari.
Rosberg struggled with a series of problems that hampered his performance, but refused to retire when offered a chance to pit with two laps remaining.
“I’d like to go to the end,” said an emotional Rosberg, who knew his fate when he was lapped at the end.
Rosberg, showing great sportsmanship and dignity, went to the pre-podium room to embrace and congratulate Hamilton, a gesture that spoke volumes for their rivalry.
After pit stops, Massa was out in front by more than 15 seconds, a lead he retained until he pitted on lap 13, Hamilton regaining control by 2.3 seconds over Rosberg.
Rosberg’s problems intensified when he ran off the track on lap 23, and he slipped further back when he suffered an Energy Recovery System (ERS) failure.
Rosberg’s agonies were relayed to the world by team radio on lap 37 when he asked about his position.
“It’s not good at the moment,” came the reply.
“What the hell does that mean? What can I do?” said Rosberg.
“Just drive flat out, Nico …”
* 1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 384 pts – world champion
* 2. Nico Rosberg (GER) 317
* 3. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 238
* 4. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 186
* 5. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 167
* 6. Fernando Alonso (ESP) 161
* 7. Felipe Massa (BRA) 134
* 8. Jenson Button (GBR) 126
* 9. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) 96
* 10. Sergio Perez (MEX) 59
* 11. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) 55
* 12. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) 55
* 13. Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) 22
* 14. Romain Grosjean (FRA) 8
* 15. Daniil Kvyat (RUS) 8
* 16. Pastor Maldonado (VEN) 2
* 17. Jules Bianchi (FRA) 2
*1. Mercedes 701 pts
* 2. Red Bull 405
* 3. Williams 320
* 4. Ferrari 216
* 5. McLaren 181
* 6. Force India 155
* 7. Toro Rosso 30
* 8. Lotus 10
* 9. Marussia 2