Fernando Alonso has tipped his hat to new Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg for keeping his cool under pressure over the final stretch of the 2016 season.
The Mercedes driver clinched the title by coming home second to Lewis Hamilton in a dramatic Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, holding his nerve as his team-mate tried to back him up into charging rivals behind them.
Although Rosberg’s lead shrunk from 33 points after Suzuka to just five by the final chequered flag, Alonso says his achievement should not be belittled.
“He always believed in his possibilities and managed the advantage perfectly well in the last couple of races,” the double world champion told TV crews after the season finale. “In a race like Brazil, there were very tough conditions and he stayed always calm and delivered the results he needed.
“Now is time for him to enjoy and hopefully next year we can also be contenders likes they [Mercedes] have been the last three years.”
Alonso, who grabbed the final point on offer at Yas Marina Circuit with P10, also saw two of his contemporaries bow out of F1 on Sunday night, as former Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa and fellow McLaren-Honda racer Jenson Button made their final starts.
“We will miss [Felipe], we will miss Jenson,” Alonso added. “We will keep going but our generation starts to be leaving and we’ll see how much longer we can be here.”
The 35-year-old Spaniard will be the second-oldest driver behind former Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, but the most experienced racer with 273 starts.
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