Nico Rosberg hails Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton as a deserved champion
ERS failure on W05 wrecks German's race in season finale; Rosberg vows to improve race-day performances in 2015
By Pete Gill and James Galloway
Last Updated: 24/11/14 10:03am
A gracious and sporting Nico Rosberg has hailed Lewis Hamilton as a “deserved” World Champion after being beaten to the title by his Mercedes team-mate.
The German, who needed to finish at least fifth to have any chance of beating Hamilton to the title, finished out of the points, and was lapped by the sister W05 in Abu Dhabi after suffering a crippling ERS failure on his car.
But in a classy gesture, Rosberg embraced Hamilton ahead of the podium ceremony in a sign that the friends-turned-title-foes are ready to bury the hatchet after a year dogged by mistrust and icy animosity.
“I’m very disappointed, the chance was there, but it didn’t work out. But in the end, my race didn’t make a difference because Lewis won the race fair and square. He deserved to win today and also to win the championship," Rosberg, to his utmost credit, acknowledged to Sky Sports F1.
"He was that little bit better this year and it is fully deserved. He has done an amazing job and was the best driver on the grid this year."
In decades to come, statistical anoraks pouring over the record books are likely to wonder what the fuss was all about, with Hamilton crowned champion by a margin of 67 points after claiming his 11th victory of the year to just five for Rosberg. But there has barely been a tyre’s width between the two title protagonists all year, with Rosberg’s refusal to retire from Sunday’s race typical of his fighting spirit throughout a riveting campaign.
“It’s been a great battle between us and that is what I race for. It’s been very intense at times but most of the time it’s been fantastic," added a dignified Rosberg.
Against expectation, Rosberg reserved his best performances throughout the year for qualifying, but his failure to overtake Hamilton in any of the season’s 19 races was a sizeable dent in his candidature to be World Champion.
“There’s been a lot of strong points which I can build on for next year. It was very close between Lewis and I but I need to work on the racing a little bit. I’ve been better as a qualifier for the last two years so that is something I can really build on. I need to find a little bit in the racing and I am going to find a little bit," he conceded.
"I know what the area is and I am going to push for that."
Rosberg's race began to unravel within seconds of its start as the pole-sitter became bogged down in second gear, allowing Hamilton to sweep past him. He had already fallen almost five seconds behind Hamilton at the halfway stage of the race when his W05 began to develop the ERS failure which would ultimately making him a sitting duck for the rest of the field - including Hamilton, as the new World Champion added insult to injury by lapping Rosberg as he cruised to his second title.