Despite it dominating the talk in the build-up to the season finale, Nico Rosberg says he “wasn’t expecting” Lewis Hamilton to back him up in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Rosberg clinched his fourth successive second-place finish behind Hamilton in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi finale to win the 2016 Drivers’ Championship.
It was, however, a close call at the end.
Racing 1-2 to the line, Hamilton began to back up Rosberg in the hope that Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen would boot him off the podium thereby handing the Brit a fourth World title.
It wasn’t to be.
Rosberg, who repeatedly asked Mercedes to intervene, withstood the pressure to finish P2 on the day, taking the title by five points ahead of his Mercedes team-mate.
“I wasn’t expecting it, no,” he said when asked about Hamilton’s tactics in the closing laps. “Maybe that was a bit naive but I didn’t expect it.
“But it’s not something we need to discuss a lot.
“It’s easy to understand the team asking him to speed up, and me also asking, because we do a certain thing all year and it doesn’t change just in the last race.
“But I can understand his point too. It is the World Championship and I understand he wanted to try something,
“We are out there fighting, we’re drivers and you can understand he wants to try something.
“We can just leave it at that.”
The German even admitted that he was impressed with the way in which Hamilton backed him up while still preventing Rosberg from challenging for the lead.
“He did it really, really well because there was no chance to overtake him at the same time.
“In the first sector he was fast and flat-out so I could never got close for a pass and then he slowed down in the rest of the track and the others could come back.
“Lewis is an unbelievable competitor, one of the best of all time, [in the] longest season ever I beat him in unbelievably tough conditions.”