Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton admits second title means more than the first

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Lewis Hamilton is revelling in the success of claiming his second world title in Abu Dhabi.

The Mercedes driver won in style claiming his 11th victory of the season at Yas Marina as his team-mate and championship rival, Nico Rosberg, suffered ERS problems in the race.

After four years of domination by Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, Hamilton became the first man to break the German's grip on the title this decade and added to the championship he scored so memorably in Brazil in 2008.

Better than 2008

"He said 'you drove really well' and the same for him, he drove very well all year, especially in qualifying.”

But speaking after the race on Sunday, Hamilton admitted the emotion of becoming the first Briton to win two F1 championships since Sir Jackie Stewart in 1971, was much higher than that wet afternoon at Interlagos six years ago.

"This is the greatest day of my life. 2008 was special but the feeling I have now is way past that. It's the greatest feeling I have ever had,” he told Sky Sports' Martin Brundle on the podium.

"I can't explain how much this means, it means even more than the first one, it feels like the first one. The start was like a rocket and probably the best I've ever had. Going into the race I had different approaches in my mind but the car was fantastic.

Tribute to Rosberg

Hamilton also paid tribute to his team-mate Rosberg who, despite an increasingly frosty relationship as the season progressed, embraced after the race.

"Nico put on an incredible fight all year," he told reporters. "I'm very sad to know that the car wasn't quick enough so that he could fight but, still, he was a great sport and came up to see me.

"He said 'you drove really well' and the same for him, he drove very well all year, especially in qualifying.”

He also admitted his disappointment that it was a car problem for Rosberg that prevented at least an on track battle between himself and the German.

"I remember, I think it was at Spa, Paddy [Lowe] said ‘in one of these races there’s a big chance something’s going to happen to one of the cars’, so naturally for all of us we were working so hard to make sure that was not the case," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.

"Today we wanted that race, we had that race for a certain part of it, and I know how difficult it would have been for him driving round without that power. I’ve been there, I’ve had that experience, so I have all the sympathy for him absolutely."

Rosberg gracious in defeat

As for Rosberg, he was gracious in defeat visiting Hamilton prior to the podium celebrations to congratulate Hamilton and afterwards was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying: "I am very disappointed. The chance was there today and it did not work out.

"In the end my race did not make a difference because Lewis won the race fair and square. He deserved to win today and he deserved to win the championship.

"This year he was that little bit better. He has done an amazing job and was the best driver on the grid this year," he added.

Looking forward

For Rosberg, there is the realisation that he will have the experience of this year to take into 2015, when again Mercedes will likely be the team to beat given their advantage over the rest of the field.

He has proven himself to be more than a match for Hamilton in qualifying this year but the key for future success it to find the killer edge in the races.

That can be highlighted by the fact he only translated three of his 11 poles into race wins this year and at several races he was unable to respond to a charging Hamilton who either passed him on the circuit or bucked under the pressure.

The start of a new Hamilton era?

But for the new world champion it is clear that finally, after several years in the doldrums, he is finding a way to balance his rockstar personality and celebrity lifestyle with producing the old McLaren-esque performances he was doing on a regular basis during the first two years of his career.

Much like Sebastian Vettel's first title propelled him to much greater things, Hamilton has more chance this time to go on and become three or four-time world champion as the regulations are staying much more stable than they did in 2009.

It'll be interesting to see just how this second title changes the mood at Mercedes, after all Hamilton will head for talks with team bosses over a new contract at the start of next week.

Plenty of questions for 2015

Can Rosberg bounce back in 2015 and put up another strong battle with his team-mate? Or will Hamilton's success create more of a Red Bull-esque split in the garage as Hamilton inserts himself as a clear 'number one'?

And looking further afield is there anything Red Bull can do to close the gap to the Silver Arrows for next year? Will Williams be able to maintain their resurgence? Can Ferrari, with Vettel set to join, make their way back to the top? And just where will Honda's return with McLaren see them feature on the grid?

So many questions to be answered and still plenty to be decided over the winter but for now Lewis Hamilton can sit back and enjoy the spoils after taking a much deserved second world title.

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