Rosberg steps out of the shadows with maiden F1 title


Nico Rosberg's maiden Formula One title sees one of the sport's nearly men finally take centre stage, stepping out of the shadows of the past success of relatives and colleagues alike.

The son of a former world champion and the team-mate of the second most prolific racewinner in the sport's history, Rosberg had justifiable cause to be done with playing second fiddle.

Rosberg once described the comparisons to father Keke as "annoying", but he now belongs to one of the most successful dynasties in motorsport, with Graham and Damon Hill the only previous father-son duo to win the drivers' title.

This season marks 20 years since Damon Hill followed in his father's footsteps, and Nico was visibly emotional when the subject of his dad cropped up on the podium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. 

Mention of Keke has waned as Nico has forged his own way in the sport over the years and the determination to prove himself against the current grid - most notably team-mate Lewis Hamilton - will have been the main motivating factor behind his first world title.

Rosberg had been the driver with the most race wins not to win a world championship prior to Abu Dhabi, and he has patiently played the waiting game since Mercedes' return to F1 as a constructor in 2010.

Having cut his teeth at Williams, Rosberg was drafted in to partner returning great Michael Schumacher with the Silver Arrows, outperforming the seven-time champion in each of their three seasons together.

The arrival of Hamilton from McLaren in 2013 signalled the beginning of a new challenge for Rosberg as he battled for supremacy in a car that was now competitive at the front end of the grid.

The pair had been childhood friends and karting team-mates, but their relationship has been turbulent during three years that have seen Hamilton win two world titles.

From tossing hats to taking each other out at this year's Spanish Grand Prix - the intra-team rivalry at Mercedes has proved one of the most fascinating elements of F1 in an era in which the Brackley-based outfit have been peerless.

Hamilton once claimed he was "hungrier" for success than Rosberg, insisting "living on a couch" in Stevenage gave him greater desire than a young Rosberg's lifestyle of "jets and boats" - made possible by the sporting exploits of his father.

During that interview in 2014, Hamilton asserted: "To win the world championship, you need to be the hungriest."

There is no doubting Hamilton will be hungry to regain the title next season, but perhaps Rosberg has been starved of motorsport's biggest prize for long enough.

It is time for the son of a champion to become a champion in his own right.