ABU DHABI // After 19 hotly contested races and 5,714 kilometres of grand prix racing, the 2014 Formula One world championship title was effectively decided on Sunday night by a 100-metre sprint from the start line to the first corner at Yas Marina Circuit.
Lewis Hamilton was crowned a two-time world champion under the floodlights in Abu Dhabi and on taking the chequered flag the British driver was congratulated over his team radio by a member of his country’s royal family.
“Thanks for not letting the British public down and not making the British public sweat,” Prince Harry said. “You are an absolute legend. Well done, mate.”
At any other venue on any other day, such a message may have seemed surreal.
Hamilton, surrounded by stands filled with Union Jacks and fireworks exploding above the glittering Yas Viceroy Hotel, instead showed few signs of deference, screaming, “Wooohooooo, world champion. Oh my God, I can’t believe it.”
As calm and composed as Hamilton had appeared until that moment, it was the aggressive manner in which he ensured his destiny would remain in his own hands that proved pivotal.
At the start of the race, as the red lights went out, the 2008 world champion immediately dropped a heavy right foot to leap off the line and pass teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg, who had started the season finale from pole position.
“The car was like a rocket,” Hamilton said. “Probably the best start I’ve ever had.”
The 29-year-old former McLaren driver had begun the day with a 17-point lead in the standings and knew he needed only to finish second to secure the title.
Yet his explosive, assertive start ensured any concerns he held about being slowed down by Rosberg and resultantly passed by a Williams could be forgotten… see more