Rosberg, returning to the Yas Marina Circuit for the first time since he lost out to Lewis Hamilton in last year’s title decider, won in emphatic fashion to seal a hat-trick of consecutive grands prix victories for the first time in his career. The German, also on a streak of six straight pole positions, has now won every round since he gift-wrapped the title to Hamilton at last month’s United States Grand Prix – stark contrast to much of the season in which Hamilton has dominated.
Here, at the final race of the year, Hamilton attempted a different strategy to his Mercedes team-mate in a bid to stop his losing streak, but it failed to have the desired effect as he crossed the line 8.2 seconds behind his rival.
“Austin was the low point of the season,” said Rosberg. “It was a tough weekend and since then I’ve just come back a lot stronger and I’m very happy about that.
“I’m excited about how the end of the season went and next year could come at any moment. It could start tomorrow for me. I don’t need any holidays.”
Unfortunately for Rosberg, he will have to wait until March 20 – the provisional date for next year’s curtain raiser in Australia – before he can take the challenge to Hamilton once more.
For Hamilton, his championship-winning year has somewhat fizzled out after losing to Rosberg at the ensuing rounds in Mexico, Brazil and here in Abu Dhabi after claiming the title in Austin. But the Briton is nonplussed about his winless streak.
“I think being the world champion sounds a lot better than winning the race,” he said.
Hamilton pitted 10 laps later than Rosberg hoping his fresher tyres would enable him to attack his team-mate in the closing stages. But the plan did not pay off.
“In hindsight once Nico pitted I would probably have backed off a little bit and I would have made those tyres go a lot longer,” said Hamilton, who flirted with the idea of stopping just once. The tyres were still fine at the end so I honestly felt I could potentially have taken them to the end.
“But that didn’t really work out.”
Kimi Raikkonen took to the final step of the podium for Ferrari, while Raikkonen’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who started the race from 14th after a tactical gaffe in qualifying, finished fourth.