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Lewis Hamilton wins world championship in Abu Dhabi

2014-11-23 16:12:31

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton clinched his second drivers' world championship with a comfortable victory in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who qualified second to Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg, took the lead at the start and controlled the race thereafter.

His task was made easier when Rosberg, who he was keeping at arm's length, suffered a car problem.

The failure of his hybrid system meant Rosberg limped home in 14th place.

With two laps to go, Rosberg was told to retire by his engineers at Mercedes but said: "I would like to go to the end."

As Hamilton crossed the line, Prince Harry, attending the race, came on the team radio and said: "Lewis, well done for not making the British public sweat. You are an absolute legend."

Hamilton stood on his car to celebrate after he returned to the pits and then went over to embrace girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and his family, who had flown in for race day to support him.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton parks his Mercedes in parc ferme and rushes over to embrace Nicole Scherzinger, his father, step mum and brother.

Lewis Hamilton
Touching embrace between Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff in the pre-podium room. And then a nice gesture from Nico Rosberg, who has headed up there to shake Hamilton's hand.

The Englishman's win was his 11th of the season, compared to Rosberg's five. It put the two Mercedes drivers equal on three retirements each this season and meant Hamilton's championship-winning margin was 67 points

It puts Hamilton equal with Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel with the second highest number of victories in a season and it was the 33rd win of his career, moving him clear of his great rival Fernando Alonso into fifth in the all-time list.

Rosberg, who entered the race needing to win and hope Hamilton finished lower than second if he was to win the title, was never in the position he needed to overhaul his rival.

While Hamilton made a perfect start under the setting sun at the start of the day-night race at the impressive Yas Marina circuit, Rosberg's Mercedes bogged down and Hamilton was into the lead well before braking for the first corner.

Hamilton completed the first lap 1.2 seconds in front, and inched clear until he was 2.7 seconds in front by the time he made his first pit stop on lap 10, always giving the impression of being in control.

The gap stayed at about that margin until lap 23, about half-distance, when Rosberg suffered a failure of the energy recovery system on his Mercedes.

From then on, it was a matter of damage limitation for Rosberg, who asked his team to tell him what he needed to do to finish in the top five - the result that would give him the title should Hamilton retire.

"How's it looking, to be in the position I need if Lewis has a problem?" Rosberg asked after about 34 laps.

"It's not looking good, Nico," his engineer Tony Ross told him.

"What the hell does that mean?" Rosberg replied plaintively. "What times do I need to do?"

"Just drive flat out," he was told.

But lacking 160bhp for 33 seconds of the lap, Rosberg was helpless as he slipped down the field, battling problems with his brakes, which were put under extra strain as a result of his problems.

When Rosberg hit trouble, Mercedes put Hamilton's car into conservative settings and the tension he was feeling as he neared his goal became apparent when he said: "Please don't turn up the car - I am comfortable. I can go faster if I need to."

Williams took a shot at beating Hamilton to the race win by putting second-placed Felipe Massa on to super-soft tyres for a short final stint at his final stop with 12 laps to go.

Massa closed to within nine seconds of Hamilton with eight laps to go and kept reducing the gap but Hamilton controlled his pace to ensure he had plenty of margin in hand to keep Massa at bay.

Williams took a double podium with Valtteri Bottas taking third, ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who drove brilliantly to take fourth after starting from the pit lane because both Red Bulls were found to be illegal after qualifying.

Jenson Button took fifth for Mclaren in what could be the final race of an illustrious career - McLaren have yet to choose whether Button or team-mate Kevin Magnussen will partner Fernando Alonso, who is moving from Ferrari, in 2015.

The Force India team used an inverted tyre strategy to take a strong sixth and seventh with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.

Ricciardo's team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who also started from the pit lane, was eighth.

Alonso, in his last race for Ferrari took ninth, ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Magnussen.

More to follow.

Lewis Hamilton


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