CHAMPION! Rosberg Claims Maiden World Title

Philip Boeckman Formula One Nico Rosberg

It was nervy, it was tense and it was somewhat underhand. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale on Sunday was exactly wha viewers wanted; a tetchy affair that went straight to the last corner. Despite Lewis Hamilton's best efforts, Nico Rosberg crossed the line in P2 to clinch his first ever F1 World Drivers' Championship.

It wasn't without controversy. Lewis Hamilton, race leader for the majority of the evening, dealt the only remaining hand he could; he purposefully slowed up the pack behind him with the lap counter ticking down in a last-ditch attempt to force Nico Rosberg into the jaws of a Ferrari and Red Bull. In doing so, Rosberg would've come fourth, Hamilton first, and the latter would be celebrating a fourth world title. Alas, Rosberg held on as he crossed the finish line, Sebastian Vettel seemingly unwilling to get involved and spoil Rosberg's day. 

Say what you want about the German, but Rosberg is a worthy champion and has simply been better than Lewis Hamilton this season. Sporting champions aren't always the most skilled or strongest individual or team. Leicester City's exploits in the Premier League are testament to that. Lewis Hamilton may be the better driver of the two, but he's not had as a good a season as Rosberg. It's simple.

That is not to see that Nico Rosberg is Formula One's equivalent of Leicester City; Rosberg has long been ear-marked as a champion-in-waiting as far back as his karting days and Formula One beginnings with Williams. He's a very skilled driver who has gone toe-to-toe with Hamilton this season and come out victorious. It's rare that you see a supposed 'second' driver in a top team win the World Championship.

Philip Boeckman Formula One Nico Rosberg

Hamilton's exploits at the end of the race -  his last lap was nine seconds slower than his pole-setting qualifying time - split opinion within the paddock and media. His bosses seemed furious, and rightly slow. Whatever you think about Hamilton needing Rosberg to slip down the pack, you simply cannot ignore team orders like the Briton did. Paddy Lowe, arguably second only to Toto Wolff in the Mercedes hierarchy, told Hamilton over radio to speed up, fearing that his lead driver would balls-up a Mercedes 1-2 finish. Hamilton ignored the order and told his boss that he had a championship to win. Fair play, you might say, but Formula One is a team-sport and to defy orders is to effectively stick two fingers up to his team. Wolff was seething post-race, leading to rumours that Hamilton could be suspended by the team ahead of the 2017 season.

The punishment likely won't be that severe, but you get the sense that the damage has been done. 2018 has long been earmarked as the year Hamilton jumps ship from Mercedes, to either Ferrari or back to McLaren, depending on who's stronger under the new regulations. It'd be very surprising if that prophecy doesn't turn out to be true.

So, onwards to 2017 and what a season we could have. New regulations will hopefully lead to a reshuffling of the pack. So long, dominant Mercedes. Yes, they'll likely be very strong next year and title favourites, but there is an expectation that Red Bull will at least be on par with them, given the shift to aerodynamics and the ace that is Adrian Newey hiding up their sleeve. Ferrari, for all their struggles this season, are expected to be a better outfit in 2017 (how often have we said that), whilst there is a distinct unknown about McLaren and Renault. The latter have concentrated on the 2017 car and engine for much of the year so are expected to push on in midfield and press the leaders, whilst there are murmurings that McLaren and Honda are the title dark horses in 2017. Optimistic perhaps, but the more contenders and wheel-to-wheel racing we have at the front, the better for the sport. Here's hoping.

Philip Boeckman

Huge fan of @F1 and Motor Racing in general. I blog about anything and everything from the world of Formula 1