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F1: Nico Rosberg shares the pain felt by former rival Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

Nico Rosberg said that he felt “incredible pain” as he watched Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton lose the Drivers’ Championship title to Max Verstappen in the closing stages of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The British driver looked to be cruising to his record-breaking eighth world title until a late Safety Car and “strange” decision by FIA race director Michael Masi gave Red Bull the opportunity to snatch victory.

Hamilton, while being as gracious he could be in the face of a devastating loss, has not been seen on social media nor at public events since the race at the Yas Marina Circuit on Dec 12. The seven-time champion’s brother revealed that he was spending time with family in Colorado, staying away from the social media toxicity.

Rosberg remains the only driver to have beaten Hamilton in his prime, when he claimed the 2016 F1 Drivers’ championship. Kimi Raikonnen did beat the Mercedes driver, but that was during his debut campaign with McLaren in 2007. The German, who shared a bitter rivalry with Hamilton, admitted that even though he is no longer with the team, he felt incredible pain for his former colleagues.

“I felt pain, incredible pain,” Rosberg said, as quoted by the Daily Mail. “I don’t have anything to do with Mercedes now, but of course it’s my family from before, and an incredible pain.”

Back in business: Lewis Hamilton will race in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Hamilton was overtaken by Verstappen in the final lap of the race, and the Mercedes driver was powerless to stop the Dutchman having been on 40-lap-old tyres compared to the Red Bull’s fresh set.

“They were 99 per cent sure they were going to win the World Championship until there were three laps to go,” the former Mercedes F1 driver added. “After losing it, and losing it in a fight like that, where they couldn’t do anything because the tyres had 50 laps on them… unbelievable pain.”

“It’s a shame it ended up like that with a bit of a strange decision by the FIA,” he claimed.

Hamilton is contracted to Mercedes until the end of the 2023 season, and despite question marks being raised about his future in the sport, he is expected to honour his agreement. Toto Wolff admitted that he was in constant dialogue with his driver, but failed to confirm when he will speak up about the events that saw him lose the title to Verstappen.

Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen won an epic season-long battle with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton
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