Nico Rosberg: Abu Dhabi GP was 'toughest race of my life', says new world champion

Vivian and Nico Rosberg
He may have won the race, but Hamilton could only look on as Rosberg celebrated his first drivers' championship

Nico Rosberg said his drive to winning his first world championship in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the toughest race of his life.

Rosberg had to contend with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton driving deliberately slowly to try to ensure other drivers passed the German.

"I couldn't not think about what was at stake," Rosberg said. "I tried and it didn't work. I had to.

"It was difficult to stay optimistic and in those times it was hard."

Hamilton's tactics in backing up his team-mate from the start of the race ensured an intense afternoon for Rosberg.

He was under pressure throughout and at one stage needed to find a way past Red Bull's Max Verstappen after being told it was "critical" to overtake.

"That was not a nice thing to hear," Rosberg said. "Honestly, that was really bad. A horrible feeling.

"The feelings I had in that battle and right after I passed him, I never want to have those again in my life."

Rosberg said he was not expecting Hamilton to drive that way, but admitted: "Maybe that was a bit naive."

And he admitted to doubting his ability to win the title from time to time during the season, for most of which he has led on points after a series of reliability and other problems for Hamilton.

Nico Rosberg
Rosberg cooling off with a shirtless victory picture
Rosberg and Hamilton finishes
Hamilton won ten races this season and Rosberg only won nine, yet still won the Championship
Longest wait for F1 title
Longest wait for an F1 title: Mr Rosberg slots nicely into second here: with a 10-year wait over 206 races. Source: Forix

"I believed in it strongly," Rosberg said. "I was always optimistic but there are always moments when it becomes difficult and even out there today there were some seriously tough moments."

But he added: "It was my best season and I have done my best ever races.

"The last couple of races and especially the last one, that is not the real Nico because the pressure just slows you down.

"So for sure that was difficult and I am happy to have come through in the way I did. And Lewis on the other hand had nothing to lose.

"These last few races have been the best Lewis we have ever seen because he has been had no pressure, he was super-motivated, super-concentrated, working as much as never before and he had nothing to lose and I was the one in front who had something to lose. That definitely made it more difficult."

He said his oft-repeated mantra of "taking it one race at a time" had been a key aspect of his winning the title, especially after starting the season with four straight wins.

"During the beginning of the season, after winning all those races, it became very clear that it would be completely wrong to now start thinking about the championship because it is Lewis Hamilton who is my team-mate, he is always going to fight back. He is always going to be massively tough to beat," Rosberg said.

Rosberg, Vettel and Verstappen
The climax was tense with Vettel and Verstappen closing in on second-place Rosberg
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton
But in the end even Hamilton couldn't stop the inevitable
Nico Rosberg
The German laps up the applause from the Mercedes team

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