Nico Rosberg has claimed his first Formula One world championship as second place was good enough in Abu Dhabi.
The German followed home teammate Lewis Hamilton as the Briton did all he could but had to settle for victory at Yas Marina.
It was a matter of survival for Rosberg as Hamilton drove as slow as he possibly could to back the Mercedes’ into the drivers behind.
Max Verstappen recovered from a first corner spin to also frustrate Nico early on, but eventually nor he or Sebastian Vettel could quite challenge Rosberg as the Ferrari driver enjoyed his most successful race since Monza.
Red Bull seemed to have the Scuderia beat after an incredibly long first stint for the Dutchman saw him able to switch to a one-stop strategy, an early second stop also allowed Daniel Ricciardo to jump ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, but a later final stop for supersoft tyres allowed Vettel to fly through and claim the final podium place.
Verstappen was fourth ahead of his teammate with Raikkonen having to settle for sixth.
With all the antics at the front, the action behind got rather lost, but it was the two Force India’s who consolidated their place as their fourth best team with Nico Hulkenberg seventh, in his final race for the team, ahead of Sergio Perez.
Felipe Massa made it to the finish in his final Grand Prix in ninth ahead of long-time Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso, who completed the top 10 for McLaren.
Unfortunately, it was heartbreak for Jenson Button in what is likely to be his final race. The Briton hit in the inside kerb while fighting with Perez and damaged the front-right suspension forcing him to retire.
The big talking point after the race will be Hamilton’s tactics. Mercedes had been adamant for a fair fight between their two drivers and such was the extremities that the Briton went to in those closing laps, team boss Paddy Lowe had to intervene on the radio.
Lewis’ refusal to obey instruction and up his pace could lead to ramifications behind closed doors but ultimately it was about the right to be crowned champion and so there can be no complaints as both men did all that they could.
The early races proved crucial in Rosberg’s first world title. The gap he built up, though lost during the summer, at least kept him in contention when he finally returned to his best following the summer break.
In the driving seat after Sepang, Nico did all that he had to and that is why, while it may not have been in a blaze of glory, he was the right man to be the Formula One champion for 2016.