Nico Rosberg has clinched his maiden Formula 1 world championship by fending off Sebastian Vettel to finish second in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as title rival Lewis Hamilton won the race.
Rosberg entered the twenty-first and final Grand Prix of the season with a 12-point lead and simply needed to be third or higher to take the title no matter where Hamilton finished.
Hamilton kept the pace slow in the final stint when leading Rosberg, backing his Mercedes team-mate into the pack, despite persistent calls from his team to up speed.
But the tactic failed to pay off, with Rosberg soaking up the pressure from Vettel to guide his car home second.
As a result, Rosberg won the world championship by five points at Yas Marina to become the sport’s 33rd world champion, 34 years after his father Keke achieved the feat.
Hamilton led Rosberg away at the start but the Silver Arrows duo did not pull away from Kimi Raikkonen, who jumped Daniel Ricciardo, and Vettel.
Rosberg pitted a lap after Hamilton, ditching the ultra-softs for the softs, and like Hamilton was held in his box while a Ferrari entered the pits.
He rejoined behind Max Verstappen, who had spun at the first corner after contact with Nico Hulkenberg and had cut his way back through the field on the super-softs and was looking to extend his stint.
Mercedes told Rosberg he needed to pass Verstappen because the Red Bull driver was going purposefully slow, setting up a tense couple of moments as the two went wheel-to-wheel with Max holding firm.
After backing off for a few laps, Mercedes told Rosberg to attack again and this time, Nico made a pass stick through Turns 8 and 9 before covering the line into Turn 11 to retake second.
The second stops for both Hamilton and Rosberg were smooth, with the duo retaining formation as they rejoined second and third behind Vettel, who was running a long second stint, until Rosberg pitted.
The gap hovered around the one-second mark for much of the remainder of the race, with Hamilton appearing to attempt to back Rosberg into the chasing pack.
The main threat was Vettel, who was last of the frontrunners to make a final stop and took on fresh super-softs. He passed both Red Bulls and closed in on the two Mercedes, bringing Verstappen with him.
Rosberg complained Hamilton was too slow while Mercedes instructed Hamilton to up the pace, including a message from technical boss Paddy Lowe, but the reigning champion replied at one point “let us race”.
Ultimately, it didn’t pay off as Hamilton crossed the line to win his tenth race of the season, compared to nine wins for Rosberg, with his team-mate second.
Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Raikkonen completed the top six.
Force India’s Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were seventh and eight respectively, securing fourth position in the constructors’ championship for the outfit for the first time.
Felipe Massa finished the final race of his Formula 1 career in ninth, with Fernando Alonso completing the top ten.
McLaren team-mate Jenson Button had a disappointing final race before his likely retirement. Button hitting a kerb at Turn 10 hard, causing damage to the steering and forcing him out.
Carlos Sainz retired with a gearbox problem, moments after he was hit by Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, while his Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat also failed to finish.
And so ends a tense and dramatic season of Formula 1 racing. Hamilton put on a brave fight but it was his Mercedes team-mate and rival Rosberg who achieved the dream result. Congratulations Nico Rosberg. 2016 world champion.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race results after 55 laps:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
8 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes
9 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda
11 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari
12 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari
13 Esteban Ocon Manor-Mercedes
14 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari
16 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault
– Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso-Ferrari
– Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Ferrari
– Jenson Button McLaren-Honda
– Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes
– Kevin Magnussen Renault
Final drivers’ standings:
1 Nico Rosberg 385
2 Lewis Hamilton 380
3 Daniel Ricciardo 256
4 Sebastian Vettel 212
5 Max Verstappen 204
6 Kimi Raikkonen 186
7 Sergio Perez 101
8 Valtteri Bottas 85
9 Nico Hulkenberg 72
10 Fernando Alonso 54
11 Felipe Massa 53
12 Carlos Sainz 46
13 Romain Grosjean 29
14 Daniil Kvyat 25
15 Jenson Button 21
16 Kevin Magnussen 7
17 Felipe Nasr 2
18 Jolyon Palmer 1
19 Pascal Wehrlein 1
20 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
21 Esteban Gutierrez 0
22 Marcus Ericsson 0
23 Esteban Ocon 0
24 Rio Haryanto 0
Final constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 765
2 Red Bull-Renault 468
3 Ferrari 398
4 Force India-Mercedes 173
5 Williams-Mercedes 138
6 McLaren-Honda 76
7 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 63
8 Haas-Ferrari 29
9 Renault 8
10 Sauber-Ferrari 2
11 Manor-Mercedes 1