Tuesday 10 December 2019

Hamilton: This is the greatest day of my life

Hamilton becomes double world champion after Nico Rosberg suffers car trouble at the Yas Marina

Lewis Hamilton claimed a second Formula One world championship with victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who won his first title in 2008, took control off the line, surging past title rival and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg who started on pole.

The 29-year-old becomes only the fourth Briton to win more than one world title, joining Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart.

Rosberg's title challenge was hit by a failure of the ERS (energy recovery store) and from that moment he only went backwards.

Hamilton clinched his 11th victory of the season while Rosberg crossed the line in 14th, a full lap adrift.

After Hamilton crossed the line Prince Harry was the first to offer his congratulations over the pit radio as he said: "Lewis, thank you very much for not making the British public sweat. You are a legend!"

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain waves the Union flag, commonly known as the Union Jack, in celebration as he enters the pit lane after winning the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 23, 2014. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: SPORT MOTORSPORT F1)
Nicole Scherzinger, girlfriend of Mercedes Lewis Hamilton, appears emotional as he becomes World Champion after victory in the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday November 23, 2014. See PA Story AUTO Abu Dhabi. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use in print media and internet only. No mobile or TV. Commercial use with prior consent. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Nicole Scherzinger, girlfriend of Mercedes Lewis Hamilton, appears emotional as he becomes World Champion after victory in the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday November 23, 2014. See PA Story AUTO Abu Dhabi. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use in print media and internet only. No mobile or TV. Commercial use with prior consent. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates on the podium after winning the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 23, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: SPORT MOTORSPORT F1)
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Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates on the podium after winning the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 23, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: SPORT MOTORSPORT F1)

With the enormity of the moment sinking in, Hamilton let out a loud "Woohoooooo!" in reply, before adding: "World champion!"

In fairness, it was fully deserved, and mercifully the controversial spectre of the double points did not come into play.

The watching public, however, were denied a fight to the line between the two men who have thoroughly dominated the season.

For Mercedes, it is their 16th victory from the 19 races, a new F1 record, surpassing the mark previously set by Ferrari twice and also McLaren.

However, internally the team will be bitterly disappointed a technical gremlin wrecked the prospect of a spectacular grandstand finish between the former friends.

AUTO Abu D__26.jpg
Nicole Scherzinger, girlfriend of Mercedes Lewis Hamilton, appears emotional as he becomes World Champion after victory in the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday November 23, 2014. See PA Story AUTO Abu Dhabi. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use in print media and internet only. No mobile or TV. Commercial use with prior consent. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

Girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger was quick to congratulate Hamilton, along with his father Anthony, step-mum Linda and brother Nicolas.

Standing on the top step of the podium, with the British national anthem ringing out, there were clear tears of joy in Hamilton's eyes.

A beaming Hamilton, with thousands of British fans in the grandstand opposite the podium, said: "I'm lost for words.

"I want to say a big huge thank you for all the fans coming out all this way, it made all the difference this weekend, and to my family and my mum (Carmen) back home, and to my team.

"I can't explain how much this means. It means more than the first one, it feels like the first time, I'm blessed.

"This is the greatest day of my life. 2008 was a special time, but the feeling I have now is way past that, above and beyond."

R-RACING-PRIX_218.jpg
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain waves the Union flag, commonly known as the Union Jack, in celebration as he enters the pit lane after winning the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 23, 2014. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: SPORT MOTORSPORT F1)

Explaining the race, Hamilton added: "I was like a rocket at the start, it's probably the best start I've ever had.

"I had options on how to approach the race, but the car was fantastic. Qualifying was not perfect, but we got it spot on for the race."

Offering his thoughts on Rosberg, Hamilton said: "Nico put up an incredible fight throughout the year, incredible.

"I'm very sad his car was not quick enough to fight in this race, but he was graceful to come up to me afterwards, very professional, and he said 'Fantastic, you drove very well'.

"All year long he did the same, particularly in qualifying."

Mercedes' non-executive chairman Niki Lauder, himself a three-time champion, was full of praise for the man he persuaded to join his team two years ago.

"All the Brits have to be happy all around the world," he said on BBC1.

"I am very happy for Lewis, he did an incredible job. Yes (he deserved it). He won 11 races and it was an outstanding performance.

"We gave him a good car, which is what I promised him."

The tension was palpable on the grid in the minutes before the race - Hamilton keeping focused with his earphones in, sunglasses on and the peak of his cap kept low. However, he briefly switched off to acknowledge his fans gathered in the grandstand.

Rosberg had claimed his 11th pole of the year - but Hamilton got off to a flyer. The reaction time from the five red lights disappearing to Hamilton's wheels spinning was just 0.2 seconds.

At the first turn the Briton was already several car lengths ahead of the German, who was under attack from those behind.

Hamilton had built up a 2.7-second advantage when he first pitted after nine laps, with Rosberg in a lap later.

It was a lead Hamilton maintained after 22 of the 55 laps, from which point Rosberg's hopes of becoming champion rapidly unravelled.

Over the next two laps the German dropped 4.4secs to Hamilton, with the team informing him his Mercedes had suffered the ERS failure, and with it a loss of 160 horsepower.

Rosberg then started a slow, painful drop down the field, with Felipe Massa first overtaking him on lap 27.

Over the next few laps Massa then started to take chunks of time out of Hamilton, and for a few moments there was concern the Briton was also suffering an issue.

Mercedes, however, soon confirmed they had turned the wick down on Hamilton's car as it became apparent he was no longer racing Rosberg.

Despite asking the team to get him home in fifth - with the double points he would win the title with that position if Hamilton retired - Rosberg continued to backpedal.

At one point the desperation in his voice was apparent as over the radio he said: "How am I looking for that position I asked for if Lewis drops out?"

"Not good Nico," was the reply, to which he retorted: "What the hell does that mean?", to which he was told: "Just drive flat out."

It was to no avail. Rosberg was asked two laps from home to retire the car, only to inform the team he wanted to finish the race on track. He did that - but was a long way adrift.

Hamilton ultimately finished ahead of Williams pair Massa and Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo fourth and Jenson Button fifth in his McLaren.

For young Briton Will Stevens, on his F1 debut with cash-strapped Caterham, the 23-year-old at least brought his car home in 17th.

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