In the just concluded Abu Dhabi grand prix, Lewis Hamilton was the volatile ocean with high tides, determined to intentionally bring the chasing sharks- Vettel on P3, Verstappen on P4 closer to championship contender Nico holding on to P2. Verstappen and Vettel were the killer sharks and Rosberg was very nearly the sitting duck. But in the end, it was Rosberg who sealed the eventual moment, defeating what could have been a moment ruined.
This is F 1. And Rosberg’s brilliant and lion-hearted drive to finish P2 defines the mood of 2016
The hunter often becomes the hunted! One wonders, if Rosberg would silently amuse himself at the sheer thought of this? The closer Vettel’s Ferrari would come to Rosberg, the lesser Rosberg’s chances of reigning large. Had he fallen to P4, behind Verstappen’s raging Red Bull and Hamilton maintained his race leader position, it would have been all over for our championship winner.
But it wasn’t to be. It just wasn’t going to be another Lewis Hamilton show at Abu Dhabi’s spectacular Yas Marina circuit, that witnessed a world record in the form of the 33rd season out of 67 being decided in the final title race.
Having held onto the inside line on lap 20th, making a brave pass on Verstappen, clearly the hunter this season, Nico Rosberg signaled his intent loud and clear. He wasn’t going to give up. But then nor was Lewis Hamilton, intentionally slowing down at the very top of the grid in order to bring the blazing Red Bull and Ferrari into play to go past Rosberg. One minute error of the size of a tiny ant and Rosberg’s Silver Arrows would have been left gutted.
A brilliant race, one of the best Abu Dhabi Grand Prix’s since Kimi’s 2012 hurrah
But unbeknownst to Lewis and perhaps to Totto Wolff, Rosberg exuded a monk-like aura. His defenses were unbreakable. He demonstrated a sagely abstinence from any loss of concentration, when he could have easily collapsed under the sensitive situation he found himself in, especially in the final 5 laps.
Defending his 2nd position through a rock-solid drive to the checkered flag, Rosberg finally emerged as the much refreshing 2016 season winner by denying Hamilton another glory. In a race, boldly defined by Sebastian Vettel’s brilliant drive to P3, arguably the stellar one over Hamilton’s solid victory, the moment clearly belonged to German Nico Rosberg, winner of 21 F1 races, a brilliant 9 of which have come this season.
In fact here’s the catch, one not many would notice
In this well-deserved moment of glory for Nico Rosberg, often defined as Mercedes’ 2nd best driver, the world nearly forgot that the race belonged to Hamilton. He led almost every single lap save the 10 odd that Vettel thanks to both Mercedes racers pitting led from the front. It was a clinical drive by the Briton and could’ve been a devastating one too.
But in the final moments, a passage of time that can slip between fingers as silkily as sand or as obstinately like an immovable rock in the face of devastation, Nico Robserg kept his cool and somehow Sebastian Vettel’s beaming Ferrari behind on P3.
In the end, in a gladiatorial clash between modern Formula One’s greatest rivals- Nico Keke Rosberg and Lewis Anthony Hamilton, for once, the real mighty was hailed and celebrated, crowned as the new deserving world champion. We’ve been accustomed to so much euphoria surrounding Hamilton all these years in the wake of his dominant 2014, 2015 drives that very little has been made to celebrate Rosberg’s grit and determination.
But could there have been a better stage for the fireworks to glow, glorifying the Weisbaden born than the very last titanic battle?
Perhaps not. Now, we know why they say, good things come to those who wait. But if you are a classicist and someone who believes in setting new precedents, then it won’t be incorrect to state that good things also come to those who persist. Nico persisted it this year.
He very nearly saw the title being shrugged off from his grasp when Hamilton bounced back to win back to back races at USA, Mexico and Brazil. But even in his determined P2 finishes in each of these races, Rosberg, opposed to popular belief, didn’t give up trying till the very end of this ecstatic competition. And we have the result in front of us. In a year that has seen Ferrari’s Red Season being squared a damp squib and Max Verstappen emerging as Red Bull’s new poster boy, evoking comparisons with Ayrton Senna, the original Regenmeister, it was Rosberg on the tip of the Iceberg. And dare we say, the Iceberg melted this time around in the wake of Rosberg’s fighting resurgence. This is a new era and could be a new dawn for Rosberg. May the best succeed next year!