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Hamilton wins Formula One world title as rival Rosberg hits trouble

By Sarah Holt, CNN
updated 3:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
It's been a nail biting rollercoaster ride but Lewis Hamilton edges out his Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg to win the 2014 Formula One World Championship. It's been a nail biting rollercoaster ride but Lewis Hamilton edges out his Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg to win the 2014 Formula One World Championship.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lewis Hamilton wins the 2014 Formula One drivers' championship for Mercedes
  • The 29-year-old took the crown by 67 points from his teammate Nico Rosberg
  • Rosberg's car lost power at the halfway stage of the Abu Dhabi race and he finished 14th
  • It is the second world title for British racer Hamilton who also won the 2008 title with McLaren

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(CNN) -- It's official. Lewis Hamilton is Mercedes' main man -- and the new Formula One world champion.

After a rollercoaster eight months of intense competition with his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, the Briton captured a second world title with victory at the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi.

The 29-year-old added the 2014 crown at the twilight season finale to the 2008 title he won with McLaren.

The hyped desert duel between Hamilton and Rosberg failed to materialize when the German's car lost power from its hybrid energy recovery system at the halfway stage of the race and his challenge fell away.

Mercedes told Rosberg to retire his car because of "too many problems" but he responded: "I would like to go to the end."

As his title rival and teenage friend had to swallow a bitter defeat, Hamilton, who had passed Rosberg for the lead at the start, sailed to the checkered flag, winning his 11th race of the season -- and with it a second world title.

"Woo Hoo! World champion, I can't believe it!" an ecstatic Hamilton cheered over the pit to car radio on his victory lap.

Keeping his swelling emotions under wraps, Hamilton did not take off his helmet as he hugged his family and girlfriend, American pop star Nicole Scherzinger, when he climbed out of the car.

"I'm a bit lost for words really," Hamilton beamed from the Abu Dhabi podium.

"This is the greatest day of my life. It's really due to the people around me. 2008 was a special time in my life but the feeling I have now is way, way past that.

"It means even more than the first one. It feels like it's the first time."

Before Hamilton joined the two Williams drivers of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, who had finished second and third, on the podium, Rosberg also came to hug it out with Hamilton.

"He just came into the room and said 'you drove really well'" revealed Hamilton. "Nico put on an incredible fight throughout the year. He was a phenomenal competitor."

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'Abu Double' title showdown
When Silver Arrows dominated F1

Rosberg had held the championship lead until the fifth race of the season in Spain where a fourth victory for his British rival saw him take over at the top of the standings.

It was a bittersweet homecoming for the two drivers at the next race in Monaco, the glamorous European principality where the pair both live in the same apartment building.

Rosberg was accused and cleared of blocking Hamilton during qualifying and he went on to celebrate a victory on the streets of Monte Carlo.

In Belgium, there was another flashpoint between the Mercedes teammates, who have been friends and racing rivals since they were teenagers.

Rosberg collided with the rear of Hamilton's car while battling to regain the lead and the resulting damage to his car ultimately put the Briton out of the race.

From May to September, Rosberg held the championship lead but the pendulum swung back in Hamilton's favor as, reinvigorated by the Belgium bust-up, he motored to the checkered flag in Singapore.

The Briton ticked off victories in Japan, Russia and the United States to make it five in a row before Rosberg fought back at the penultimate race in Brazil to close the gap to 17 points.

The desert denouement in Abu Dhabi awarded double points to the top 10 drivers with 50 points, instead of 25, on offer for the race winner.

The new rule gave Rosberg -- the son of 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg -- a tantalizing golden carrot as he chased a first world title of his own.

But the final twist of a mesmerizing Formula One season, came not from the gimmick of double points but from Mercedes' own making.

The mighty Mercedes engine that had driven the fierce rivalry between the two championship rivals proved to be Rosberg's undoing.

At the halfway stage of the race, he radioed in to report his car was losing power. The team confirmed his hybrid car's energy recovery system -- which is worth 160 British horse power for around 33 second per lap -- was no longer working.

Rosberg tried to stay positive and manage his race. Asked by reporters in Abu Dhabi if he ever gave up on the title he said: "I still believed in it for a long time as there was the possibility Lewis would have a problem.

"I was still pushing on the last lap and that's why I wanted to finish the race."

The German crossed the line in 14th, his lowest finish of the season aside from two retirements in Britain and Singapore.

Hamilton won the title by 67 points but even without the bonus of double points his championship victory would have been emphatic.

The tense tale of competition between the two Mercedes drivers gave a thrilling narrative to the 2014 F1 season, which saw the introduction of major rules changes focused on engine technology.

Both drivers will have undoubtedly learned something from their see sawing mano a mano contest through 19 races around the globe.

"He was the best on the grid this year and I came very close," Rosberg acknowledged to reporters in Abu Dhabi. "To be able to fight with Lewis has been great.

"To be up against him, the level was incredibly high and so I also had to find and deliver the next level. I'm very proud."

Friends at last?

The teamwork between the two Mercedes drivers ensured the Silver Arrows marque won its first ever team title with three races to spare.

An 11th one-two finish in Brazil saw the team also break the previous record for the most one-two finishes in a single season set by fierce McLaren rivals Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in 1988.

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Kimi Raikkonen's journey into F1

"This has been an incredible year," said Hamilton. "I just cannot believe how amazing this has all been.

"The decision to come here, when a lot of people said it was the wrong choice. The steps we took last year and then coming into this year, it was just unbelievable."

Speaking of his relationship with Rosberg, Hamilton added: "It's been so intense between us all year long.

"Without a doubt we've had a friendship that we built a long, long, long time ago, so that will always be there.

"Perhaps things naturally will ease up a little now. I know what it's like losing a championship so, for sure, we'll keep working at it."

As the sun set on the 2014 season, Hamilton prepared to have dinner with his family and girlfriend, who had surprised him by flying into Abu Dhabi on Sunday morning.

But the world of F1 moves fast and even for the new world champion and the runner-up there is little pause to digest what has been achieved or what might have been.

The preparation for the Mercedes title defense loom large. Hamilton said he will have a seat fitting for the 2015 car next week while Rosberg takes part in the end of season test.

Read: Who is Ferrari's new racer?

Read: Bianchi out of artificial coma and flown home

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