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  • Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads the pack during the race. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
  • Image Credit: Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters
Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, leads teammate Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany at the start of the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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  • Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads the pack during the race. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
  • Image Credit: Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters
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  • Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads the pack during the race. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
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  • Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives during the race. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
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  • Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton leads the pack during the race. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
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  • Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton leads the pack during the race. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
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  • Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton leads the pack during the race. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, steers his car around a corner ahead of team mate Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads as he steers through a corner during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Williams driver Felipe Massa of Brazil leaves the pit lane during the first free practice at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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  • Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • McLaren driver Fernando Alonso of Spain steers through a corner during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany steers his car ahead of team mate Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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  • Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson of Sweden steers through a corner during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland steers his car during the third free practice at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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  • Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 25/11/2016 - Williams' Formula One driver Felipe Massa of Brazil drives during the first free practice. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Force India driver Sergio Perez of Mexico steers his car during the third free practice at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Renault driver Jolyon Palmer of Great Britain steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Force India driver Sergio Perez of Mexico takes a curve during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads teammate Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the first laps of the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car ahead of team mate Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car ahead of team mate Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Drivers fight for position on a corner during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Britain's driver Jolyon Palmer steers his Renault during the second practice session at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland steers through a corner during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Renault driver Jolyon Palmer of Great Britain takes a curve during the third free practice at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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  • Dutch's driver Max Verstappen steers his Red Bull during the second practice session at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Sparks fly off the car of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands during the second free practice at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Renault driver Kevin Magnussen of Denmark takes a curve during the qualifying session at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland steers through a corner during the qualifying session at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg of Germany steers his car during the second free practice at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Force India driver Sergio Perez of Mexico takes a curve during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Brazil's driver Felipe Massa steers his Williams during the first practice session at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
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  • Spain''s driver Fernando Alonso steers his McLaren during the second practice session at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Britain's driver Jolyon Palmer steers his Renault during the first practice session at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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  • Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. of Spain takes a curve during the third free practice at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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  • The checkered flag is waved as Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain prepares to cross the finish line to win the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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  • Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany spins his car as he celebrates winning the World Championship during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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  • Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany, left, celebrates as his teammate gestures on the podium after the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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  • Winner Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, right, cheers second place Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany, on the podium after the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Rosberg was 12 points ahead of his teammate coming into the title showdown and only needed to finish third, even if Hamilton won. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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  • Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver, Nico Rosberg of Germany (L), his race technician Rony Ross, Lewis Hamilton of Britain and Ferrari's Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrate on the podium. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
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  • Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany celebrates after he secures his Formula One 2016 Drivers' World Championship. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
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  • Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 27/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany celebrates with his team after winning the Formula One world championship. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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The 2016 Formula 1 season ended with a bang that came from a direction no one expected. Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes-AMG Petronas on pole position and then got away clean to start the race. Teammate Nico Rosberg did the next best thing, lining up in second and following right behind Hamilton for most of the race. Other than Rosberg's wicked pass on Red Bull's Max Verstappen to retake second place on Lap 20, things stayed all quiet at the front.

Come Lap 32 of the 55-lap race, however, observers began to wonder why Hamilton was driving so slow. The Brit, working every trick he could think of to win the Driver's World Championship instead of just the race, dogged it out front trying to push Rosberg back into the chasing mix of Red Bulls and Ferraris. Over the next 15 laps Hamilton's race engineer repeatedly radioed ideal lap times. Hamilton only occasionally hit the times until finally saying, "I suggest you let us race." When the one-stopping Sebastian Vettel blasted his Ferrari from sixth to third, nosing up to Rosberg's gearbox, Mercedes team honcho Paddy Lowe got on the radio to instruct Hamilton to go faster. Hamilton replied that if he wasn't going to win the championship he didn't care about winning the race.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, steers his car around a corner ahead of team mate Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016.

Hamilton repeatedly zoomed through the first sector to keep everyone behind, then clogged up the works through Sectors 2 and 3. The problem with his plan was that the Red Bulls in fourth and fifth couldn't get close enough to threaten the trio at the front; even if Vettel had got by Rosberg, Rosberg would still win the Championship with a third-place finish.

McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016.

As it happened, Rosberg finished second behind the disconsolate Hamilton. Vettel took third, followed by Red Bull drivers Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, then the second Ferrari piloted by Kimi Räikkönen in sixth. Nico Hülkenberg took seventh, beating Force India teammate Sergio Perez for the last time as an intra-team rivalry. Felipe Massa closed his F1 career with ninth place in a Williams chassis that he got to take home as a gift from the team. Fernando Alonso scored the final point for McLaren, a touch of sweet for the team after the bitterness of Jenson Button retiring on Lap 12 with suspension damage.

 Mercedes' Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany celebrates after he secures his Formula One 2016 Drivers' World Championship.

Rosberg's second place earned him 385 points for the season, enough to take the World Driver's Championship from Hamilton by just five points. Some have put the title down to Rosberg's consistency, others to his car's reliability. Other F1 drivers have sacrificed the silverware to the gods of busted pistons, but no matter the cause, the man with the most points after the last race wins. Congratulations, then, to Nico Rosberg. Ricciardo sealed third in the Driver's Championship, ahead of Vettel, Verstappen, Räikkönen, Perez, Valtteri Bottas, Hülkenberg, and Alonso rounding out the top ten.

On the Constructor's side of the fence, the Force India put an exclamation point on its best-ever fourth-place finish ahead of Williams, McLaren, and Toro Rosso in seventh. The American rookies known as Haas F1 clinched eighth ahead of Renault, Sauber, and Manor. Even if Haas hadn't scored 18 of its 29 points in the first two races, the team still would have placed eighth thanks to points in three more races over the season. Not a bad beginning for the boys from North Carolina.

Dutch's driver Max Verstappen steers his Red Bull during the second practice session at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday.

The sport faces a long, full winter with big changes coming for 2017: a new aero formula taking precedence over the current engine formula, wider Pirelli tires, and freer in-season development thanks to the end of the unloved token system. We can expect Mercedes to have a good car next season. Nevertheless, seeing what Red Bull managed this year with a clearly inferior Renault engine compared to Mercedes and Ferrari. With legendary designer Adrian Newey still drawing the Red Bull, they could make the biggest splash in 2017.

The driver's market is nearly settled. Sauber has one open seat, Manor has at least one and perhaps two depending on whether the small team retains Pascal Wehrlein or Wehrlein takes that Sauber seat. Jenson Button leaves the field after 16 years in the trenches, rookies Stoffel Vandoorne, Lance Stroll join the ranks, and virtual rookie Esteban Ocon joins a powerful Force India team after nine races with Manor. The fates of Felipe Nasr and Esteban Gutíerrez aren't yet decided.

Winner Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, right, cheers second place Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany, on the podium after the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Rosberg was 12 points ahead of his teammate coming into the title showdown and only needed to finish third, even if Hamilton won.

It took 11 seasons in the sport, but Nico Rosberg becomes the third German to win the Driver's World Championship. Now he's got all winter to decide whether he wants to adorn his 2017 Mercedes-AMG Petronas chassis with his regular number 6 – the same number his Championship-winning father Keke used in 1982 – or the number 1 accorded to the reigning world champion. Most importantly, he has four months to figure out how to deal with a teammate who'll be hungry to avenge this season's near misses.

That's it for the 2016 season. Enjoy the break, we'll be back in 2017.

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