Nico Rosberg became a Formula 1 World Champion in Abu Dhabi, It took him 11 seasons and 206 Grand Prix.
He did it the hard way, beating arguably the fastest driver of the moment, in the same car.
He did it after being beaten by Hamilton three years in a row.
He did it despite being the butt of jokes for his looks in the paddock (remember the Britney license?), being hammered by a lot of the motoring media as unworthy and "dirty", criticized by the boss of the sport as too boring and painted as an entitled rich kid by his own teammate.
|Nico and Keke Rosberg.|
There is no doubt the Rosberg name opened doors and opportunities, but it must also be remembered Hamilton had Ron Dennis behind him since age 13 and that, after winning GP2, he came into F1 at the top with Mclaren while Rosberg arrived at Williams when it was far from a top car.
At Mercedes, Rosberg was consistently faster than a Schumacher indeed past his prime, but still one of the top drivers ever to sit in a car. Later, Nico bested Hamilton on race wins in 2013.
In 2014 and 2015, with the new turbo hybrid engines, Hamilton beat him badly.
Tough losses, especially in '14. A lesser driver might have gone the way of a Massa or Barrichello but Rosberg proved to be way more bulldog that Britney. He may be a 10th off Hamilton's pace over a single lap but even his most rabid detractors have to acknowledge his remarkable consistency and resilience.
"Lewis is raw talent, Nico is hard work twenty four hours a day, seven days a week" is a quote from Toto Wolff and in the end it's good for the sport to have different personalities, the jet setting social media star and the hard working family man, both rewarded. Kudos to Mercedes for trying to give both
Even Bernie made peace with it eventually and Nico didn't hold a grudge. Perhaps even the Hamfosi can get past their prejudice and admit Nico drove a better season than Lewis this year rather than moan about it in perpetuity.
Bravo Nico, now bring on 2017!