Nico Rosberg will no longer be known simply as the son of Formula One champion Keke Rosberg.
The German driver is now a champion in his own right after clinching his first title on Sunday to match his father’s achievement from 1982.
“Two Rosbergs are world champions … if I’ve got my statistics right,” Nico Rosberg joked moments after clinching the title.
Graham Hill (1962, 1968) and Damon Hill (1996) are the only other father and son to have won the title.
Rosberg’s second place at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was enough to wrestle the title away from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and also prevented his arch-rival from clinching his third straight and fourth overall.
“It’s unbelievably special to beat him because the level’s so high,” Rosberg said.
“It makes this so much more satisfying for me, because he’s the benchmark and I took the world championship away from him.”
Rosberg finished the season on 385 points to Hamilton’s 380.
Just like his father, Rosberg drives in the No. 6 car.
His 67-year-old father was one of the most flamboyant drivers of his generation.
“Every Saturday night I get a text from him: ‘Pedal to the metal.’ That’s it,” Rosberg said.
“It’s been good how he’s let me get on with it and taken a step back. So I’m very thankful for that.”
Rosberg’s title went down to the wire in a nerve-shredding finale.
“I was relieved” his father said after the race in the F1 paddock. “Two laps from the end I was nervous.”
With Hamilton purposefully slowing him down, two other drivers hard on his tail and the title on the line, Rosberg did not crack.
Hamilton won the race from pole position for his 53rd GP win. But Rosberg was 12 points ahead of him before the race and only needed to finish no lower than third if Hamilton won.
“It was so intense, the race, so tough,” said the 31-year-old Rosberg, who finished runner-up to Hamilton in the past two years.
Rosberg repeatedly wiped his face and lowered his head several times in the post-race news conference, appearing emotionally exhausted as he tilted back into his chair and rubbed his eyes.
Still, he expects to find plenty of energy to celebrate his win.
“Tonight’s going to be absolutely nuts,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to be available for a few days.”