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Formula One: Rosberg secures debut world title ahead of Hamilton

Nico Rosberg secured his debut Formula One drivers' championship at a tense season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Second place was enough for the German to pip his British Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, to the title.

Hamilton started from pole position and claimed victory, his 10th of the season and fourth in a row, in a nail-biting conclusion to the season at the Yas Marina circuit.

The defending champion set Mercedes' nerves jangling towards the end of the race when he appeared to deliberately slow the pace despite team orders to the contrary to try to push Rosberg into the clutches of the drivers behind.

Vulnerable position

His final lap was nine seconds slower than the one that secured pole and was clearly designed to put Rosberg in a vulnerable position. 

Rosberg’s compatriot, Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, even accused Hamilton of "dirty tricks" over his team radio.

Vettel finished third ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, with the top four separated by less than two seconds.

"There was pressure on from behind at the end, with Lewis driving slow in front. It was a tough one," an exhausted-looking Rosberg told a news conference.

"It’s crazy. It was so intense the race so I think it’s going to take some time to settle and come out because it was really intense out there and so tough," added the 31-year-old, who drove superbly to keep Verstappen at bay earlier in the race.

Not enjoyable

"Those last couple of laps with those two guys behind, I knew if I dropped behind them it’s over so not enjoyable."

Rosberg had led his long-term rival by 12 points going into Sunday’s showdown, with both on nine race wins, and the German needed only a podium finish to clinch the title.

His eventual margin of victory in the overall standings was just five points, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull third and Vettel fourth.

Formel 1 Vereinigte Arabische Emirate in Abu Dhabi - Weltmeister Nico Rosberg, Deutschland (picture-alliance/dpa/V. Xhemaj)

Rosberg celebrates on the Yas Marina podium

The son of 1982 champion Keke Rosberg, he is the third German to reach the F1 summit after Michael Schumacher and Vettel and the first to win driving for a German team.

Rosberg’s triumph prevented Hamilton from becoming the first Briton to win four world championship crowns. No driver had previously won 10 races in a season and failed to take the title.

Hamilton insisted he did nothing wrong in the final laps.

"I don't think I did anything dangerous, I don't think I did anything unfair," he said "We were fighting for the championship, I was in the lead so I control the pace. That is the rules.

"For me, I am in a position where I had a lot of points lost during the season so for me I am out there fighting and generally never try to do anything to harm the team or the brand.

"But we won the constructors' championship so it was down to me and Nico today. However, they felt they still needed to make comments. We will discuss it afterwards as we always do."

Felipe Massa of Williams signed off on his F1 career with a ninth-place finish, while McLaren driver Jenson Button was in contention for points in his final Grand Prix but was forced out by suspension failure.

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