Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (SportsNetwork.com) - Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton captured his second Formula One world championship by winning Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, while his teammate and title rival, Nico Rosberg, finished 14th in the season-finale.
Rosberg, who entered this race 17 points behind Hamilton, started on the pole, but Hamilton quickly pulled ahead of Rosberg for the lead heading into the first turn of the opening lap.
"It was a great start, probably the best I've ever had," Hamilton said.
While Hamilton had pulled away from the field, Rosberg experienced a problem with his ERS (Energy Recovery System) on lap 25, causing a loss of engine power. Rosberg gradually fell behind in the field and was lapped by Hamilton on the second-to-lap lap.
Hamilton only relinquished the lead during his two pit stops. Felipe Massa from Williams chased down Hamilton in the closing laps, but Massa finished 2.5 seconds behind him.
"Woooooaaahh! World champion. I can't believe it. Thank you so much everyone," Hamilton radioed to his Mercedes team after he crossed the finish line in first.
An emotional Hamilton then grabbed a British flag and waved it during his cool-down lap. At the same time, Britain's Prince Harry, who was in attendance for this race, congratulated Hamilton over the team radio, saying, "Well done, Lewis, you're an absolute legend."
It was the 11th win for Hamilton this season. He also earned his 33rd career victory, allowing him to surpass Fernando Alonso for fifth on the all-time F1 race winners list.
Hamilton concluded the season 67 points ahead of Rosberg (384-317). This race awarded double the amount of points for the first time in F1 history. Hamilton scored 50 for the win.
His first F1 world championship occurred in 2008 when he drove for McLaren. He claimed the title by only one point over Massa, who drove for Ferrari at the time. Massa won the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, but Hamilton's fifth- place finish in that race allowed him to clinch the title.
"I can't really explain how much this means to me," Hamilton said of his second world championship. "This one means more than the first (title). It feels like it's the first time. I feel so blessed."
Hamilton became the fourth British driver to win multiple F1 world championships, joining Jackie Stewart (1969, '71 and '73), Jim Clark (1963 and '65) and Graham Hill (1962 and '68). Hamilton is also the 16th different driver with two or more titles in the sport.
Throughout the season, there has been an intense rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg, which at times reached the boiling point, particularly in Monaco and Belgium.
After the conclusion of this 55-lap race at Yas Marina Circuit, Rosberg approached Hamilton to congratulate him for winning the race and the championship. It was the second time Hamilton won in Abu Dhabi. His first victory here came in 2011.
"Nico put on an incredible fight throughout the year, and he was a phenomenal competitor," Hamilton said. "We met each other back in 1997, and we always said that it would be pretty amazing to race on the same team and fight for the world championship.
"He did an amazing job today. His car wasn't quick enough in the end, so he couldn't fight, but he was still graceful enough to come up to me, being very professional, and said, 'Fantastic. You drove very well'."
Rosberg concluded the season with five grand prix wins and 11 pole victories. Two weeks ago, he won the Brazilian GP to keep his title hopes alive.
"I'm very disappointed with the ending, of course, but congratulations to Lewis," Rosberg said. "Lewis deserves to be champion this year, but for me, it wasn't a nice ending. All in all, it's been a great season for the team, and I'm proud to be a part of that. Lewis was a little bit better of a driver this year, a tiny bit, so he deserves the win."
Massa's second-place run marked his best finish in a grand prix since October 2012 in Japan. This was his first season with Williams.
"It was an incredible race for us," Massa said. "I did not expect to have that pace...I wanted so much for victory, but we were close. I hope this is the beginning for next year."
Massa's teammate, Valtteri Bottas, finished third, followed by Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull and McLaren's Jenson Button.
Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez placed sixth and seventh, respectively, while Sebastian Vettel, the four-time and outgoing champion, was eighth in his final race with Red Bull. Vettel is moving over to Ferrari for the 2015 season, replacing Alonso, who finished ninth.
"I think the last six years (with Red Bull) have been an incredible journey," Vettel said. "I'd like to thank Red Bull and the team for everything they did, and I will miss them. I feel ready for the next step."
Alonso's teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, completed the top-10.
This might have been Button's last race in F1, as it is widely rumored that Alonso will replace him at McLaren for next season. Button, the 2009 world champion, has been competing in F1 since 2000.