Lewis Hamilton drove his heart out every single weekend to conquer German efficiency in the race to the Formula One Word Drivers’ Championship.
The 29-year-old Brit claimed his second world title in style in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, making a mockery of the controversial double points rule by blowing championship rival and teammate Nico Rosberg away in the opening seconds to effectively settle the 2014 season.
In the process, Hamilton steered the indomitable Mercedes brand to its first title in almost 60 years, and he is now eying the record of Juan Manuel Fangio, the last man to win motorsport’s greatest prize for the German juggernauts.
Two-time champion Hamilton admits he wants more titles and revealed he is “definitely not finished” on his quest for success.
At a championship press conference held at the Westin Hotel yesterday, the new world champion admits he now has the car to pursue more titles.
“I drove my heart out every race and maximised the time that I had on the track,” the Briton said when asked to pinpoint why he beat Rosberg to the title.
“From when I arrived on the weekend, the preparation I did, the work the engineers did on the car was just exceptional.
"That year’s experience I had with them last year made a massive difference this year.”
Hamilton achieved a lifelong dream by winning his maiden F1 title in 2008, but he said the second one means more.
“The first one was exceptional but I don’t know if I was in that place to absorb and embrace it in the way that I am today,” he said.
“The second came many years after the first, so this feels like the first.
"I guess just being in a different stage in my life, maybe it feels sweeter being a bit older.
"It’s a very special and humbling experience.”
While Mercdes’ last F1 champion Fangio sits on five titles, with Michael Schumacher at the very top with seven, Hamilton’s next target is joining the ranks of legends such as Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham and Nelson Piquet who have three.
Hamilton said: “I hope there’s more of those. Of course, I’m going to push as hard as I can.
"I’m still young, I’ve still got a lot to learn and a lot to improve on.
“I’m definitely not finished and I’m going to come back strong (next year).”
With Mercedes winning 16 of the 19 races this year as well as the constructors’ championship by a record 296 points, many are predicting a period of dominance similar to Red Bull, who won the last four championships.
Hamilton is in a very different position to when he first won the title in 2008 as he now has a car that is capable of steering him to more glory.
He said: “That’s naturally the dream, to go into next season, compete again, learn from this season and get stronger if possible.
"That’s the goal. I have confidence in the team that we will come very strong next year.
"In 2009 the car was a lot different. Lot of changes. Different times.
"I truly believe with Petronas working hard to improve our engine, we’ll continue to push.”
Hamilton said the challenge of his German team-mate Rosberg, right up until the season showdown, had benefitted him, adding that their competitive rivalry was healthy rather than turbulent.
“It’s normal for a fierce battle throughout the year,” he said.
“There’s always tension, but between the drivers and the team I think we handled it better than anyone else could have.
“Nico was always right on the edge, right until the last race, which is what you want from a competitor.
“There’ll be a lot of learning done from both me and Nico on how to handle things and I’m sure we’ll both come back (next season) and handle it better.”
The Formula One season finished with a flourish at the Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday as Lewis Hamilton clinched the F1 drivers’ championship for a second time with victory at the Abu Dhabu Grand Prix.
After recovering from the excitement of the Grand Prix, Sport360 picked out the best tweets from Abu Dhabi with Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Armin Van Burren and Kim Kardashian all featuring.
Let’s start with the man who stole the show at Yas Marina.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 23, 2014
Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg finished 13th having started the race in pole position. To underline the character of the man, he was quick to pile praise on the champion.
Tough end.Would have loved to fight til last corner. Congrats, lewis.u deserve the title. Special year with the team. pic.twitter.com/RHzCFvtK3n
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) November 23, 2014
Fernando Alonso raced for the last time in a Ferrari car on Sunday and is expected to sign for McLaren over the next few weeks. He also hailed the success of Hamilton.
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) November 23, 2014
Another stalwart racing with his team for the last time was Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. The German n is set to join Ferrari for the 2015 Formula One season.
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) November 23, 2014
Pharrell Williams played in front of a sold-out crowd at Yas Island on Saturday night. And for those who missed his gig, Pharrell will return to play in the UAE at the end of December.
Hey UAE, I loved F1 so much I’m coming back for Dubai’s biggest NYE party. Check out #DXBNYE!
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) November 23, 2014
The famous Dutch DJ and producer Armin van Buuren played on Thursday night and thanked his fans for their support by posting up a picture from the stage.
My first time playing an F1 event!! Thank you Abu Dhabi!! http://t.co/Pu2RYCgPun
— Armin van Buuren (@arminvanbuuren) November 22, 2014
Last but not least, F1 enthusiast Kim Kardashian swapped the bright lights of Hollywood to soak up the atmosphere at the Grand Prix weekend.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) November 23, 2014
Christian Horner is refusing to label the 2015 Formula One season a “write off” before it starts but he predicts the gap between Mercedes and the other teams will actually grow rather than close.
It seems to be the end of an era at Red Bull, who have waved goodbye to Sebastian Vettel, on his way to Ferrari in 2015, the man who steered them to four successive World Driver Championships between 2010 and 2013.
Design guru Adrian Newey will remain with the team, but is taking a step back from Formula One, so there is a definite feeling of changing tides for the Milton Keynes-based team.
Horner remains stoic though and is looking forward to Red Bull’s attacking young line-up of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat in 2015.
“We’re not writing off next year,’ said Horner.
“For sure, the gap that there is, and the performance gains that we hear Mercedes are bringing next year, it’s going to be a massive challenge to reduce that.
“If you believe the numbers that are floating around, I think the gap could actually grow rather than diminish, so that would be rather depressing.”
He is confident in engine provider Renault’s will and commitment, but worries that they might not have the financial muscle to compete with Mercedes, who were such convincing winners of the constructor’s championship this year.
“Renault are putting all the effort they can into next year and we’re hoping to really close that deficit, to put Mercedes under a bit of pressure.
“I think they (Renault) can make an inroad but it will be unlikely to match this year’s engine.
"I think they can get closer to it but of course Mercedes aren’t going to stand still and I think Ferrari are probably in a very similar situation,” he said.
Nothing will change mechanically for the 2015 season for teams, but Horner is keeping one eye on the following season.
“Nothing’s going to change for next year but we can’t afford to not get 2016 right,” he said.
“We’ve basically got a choice. We can either say open everything up for 2016, spend what you like and go for open development which I don’t think any of the manufacturers have the appetite for and you’ll probably lose one or two.
“Or you say let’s try and grab a hold of costs, something that still allows competition but is far more contained and responsible in what it’s providing to the customer as well. For me it seems a far more logical option.”
He added: “It might drive Mercedes away but if you leave it as it is you’re probably going to drive Renault and one or two others away.
“You’ve got to do what’s right for the sport rather than what’s right for an individual manufacturer.”
Horner congratulated “deserving” world champion Lewis Hamilton on his second title, praised outgoing champion and Red Bull driver Vettel and is looking ahead to an exciting future for the team.
“He (Vettel) was very much a boy when he started with Red Bull and grew through the junior programmes. We’ve very much grown together.
“It’ll be sad to see him leave but all we can do is wish him well for the future. In Daniil Kvyat, we’ve got another very exciting prospect for the future.
"Whilst it’s the end of a cycle with Seb, it’s the start of an exciting new cycle for the team as well.”
Horner added: “We’ve got to say congratulations to Lewis. He’s very much the deserving champion.”