Nico Rosberg says Abu Dhabi GP was ‘definitely not the most enjoyable’

• ‘It was very tough with Verstappen – not nice,’ says German
• New world champion appeared on brink of emotional collapse

A tearful Nico Rosberg said he did not enjoy the race that brought him his first Formula One world title.

Rosberg twice came under intense pressure, first when he had to overtake the combative Max Verstappen and even more so in the closing laps when his Mercedes team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, in a bid to win the championship himself, backed the German towards the cars behind him, driven by Sebastian Vettel and Verstappen.

“Many moments were not so enjoyable,” Rosberg said. “It was very tough, with Verstappen at the beginning and in the end of course – not nice. It was definitely not the most enjoyable race I’ve ever had.”

Rosberg, 31, entered F1 a year earlier than his arch rival Hamilton, in 2006. He became the second son of a world champion father to take the title. His father, Keke, was champion with just one race win in 1982; Damon Hill won the title in 1996, following his father Graham in 1962 and 1968.

Talking about his father, who congratulated him afterwards, he said: “Every Saturday night I get a message from him, like ‘pedal to the metal tomorrow’, that is his word of advice. My dad and my mum are such a big part of this. My mum on the private side and my dad for my career steps. It is massive. It is good how he is letting me get on with it. It feels right, him stepping back a bit, for sure.”

Rosberg appeared to be fighting against emotional collapse throughout the press conference. “You can understand I wasn’t maybe completely transparent all weekend. I needed to protect myself from your world – yes, it was a tough weekend for me,” he said. “It was so intense. Really intense. I have never felt anything like that in the car.”

Rosberg did not blame Hamilton for his backing-up tactics. “It is a pretty simple discussion, you can understand the team’s perspective and understand Lewis’s perspective, and that is it,” he said. “Lewis was using all his skill to do it perfectly so there was no way for me to get by. I thought about it but it was pointless. There was no way, he did it in a perfect way.”

He said a big career turning point came in Austin last year, when Hamilton secured his third title and annoyed Rosberg by aggressively nudging him wide on turn one. “Austin was a horrible experience for me and I really spent two days just on my own, thinking. And I said I didn’t ever want to experience that again. And then I went and won the next seven races.”

Asked about claims that he did not get enough credit for his achievement he replied: “I don’t drive for credit. I drive to win the world championship. It is my childhood dream to win the world championship, and I have done that.

“I’m sure it’s going to be pretty crazy now and for the next few days. Tonight is going to go absolutely nuts. I mean tonight is going to be insane. I think I’m going to be not available for a few days and after that – I don’t know.”


Paul Weaver in Abu Dhabi

The GuardianTramp

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