Sport Motorsport Just like Dad – Nico Rosberg is 2016 Formula 1 champ
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Just like Dad – Nico Rosberg is 2016 Formula 1 champ

Nico Rosberg Formula 1 winner
A second at Abu Dhabi was enought to net Rosberg the Formula 1 title. Photo: Mark Thompson/ Getty
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Nico Rosberg, son of 1982 world champion Keke, has claimed his first Formula One world championship.

A podium finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was enough to seal the win and he did that, coming second to Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton in the final race of the season.

Rosberg described the feeling as “unreal”.

Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo finished third in the final standings for Red Bull Racing, after placing fifth in Abu Dhabi.

Rosberg becomes just the second son of a former Formula One world champion to claim his own title. The other pairing was Graham (1962, 1968) and Damon Hill (1996).

Rosberg could be considered a chip off the old block, but that would be a mistake.

A glance at old photographs and race reports serves to highlight the different eras and different personalities.

The moustachioed Keke was swashbuckling, hard-charging, fast and muscular behind the wheel as well as being a noted chain-smoker in an era when drivers could not always be sure of surviving the season.

At Silverstone in 1985, the Finn became the first driver to lap a circuit at an average speed of more than 160 miles per hour in his Williams.

When he got out of the car, he lit up a cigarette.

Nico, a personable and healthy-living family man with an easy charm sometimes mistaken for blandness, is much more likely to be seen tucking into an organic salad or devouring reams of data.

He has thanked his mother and father in a tweet featuring footage of his childhood.

“Keke was very demanding…let’s just say he didn’t interact with the boys very well. He turned up, drove the car and went away again,” recalled former McLaren stalwart Dave Ryan who worked with him in 1986.

“But he was a huge personality.”

Nobody would have dared to bestow on Keke the nickname ‘Britney’, after pop star Britney Spears, that Nico was given early in his career by Williams team mate Mark Webber in a reference to his blond good looks.

Expensively educated – he had a place to study aeronautical engineering at London’s Imperial College – and fluent in five languages, Nico was born in Germany but grew up in a life of luxury in Monaco.

The 31-year-old is very different also to teammate and triple champion Lewis Hamilton, a regular in the celebrity gossip pages who spends plenty of time in America hanging out with friends from the worlds of film and music.

Much of the debate in the run-up to the title decider focused on whether Rosberg, who has also had to contend with jibes that he is not really German, would make a ‘boring’ champion.

Indeed, there are those who have questioned whether he is even a worthy winner.

Formula One’s 86-year-old supremo Bernie Ecclestone has made little secret of the fact that the edgier Briton, whose background is a world apart from Rosberg’s privileged upbringing, is better box-office.

“I come from a not-great place in Stevenage and lived on a couch in my dad’s apartment. And Nico grew up in Monaco with jets and hotels and boats and all these kind of things,” Hamilton said during their 2014 title battle.

“So the hunger is different.”

Losing out to Hamilton in 2014 and 2015, Rosberg started 2016 with four straight victories.

He has won more races than most previous champions did in their careers, and nine this year alone – even if Hamilton ended up with 10 and more pole positions as well.

Keke won his title with just one victory, ending his Formula One career with a mere five in total.

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