Nico Rosberg is the 2016 Formula 1 World Champion after keeping his nerve to finish second in a tense Abu Dhabi Grand Prix behind Lewis Hamilton.

The German came into the race needing just a top three finish to ensure himself of a maiden world title but went one better with a run to second place in what was still a ballsy performance by the new champion.

The result means Rosberg succeeds Mercedes team-mate Hamilton as the F1 world champion, becoming the sport's 33rd title winner with a tally of nine race wins and 16 podiums from a record-breaking 21 race season.

He emulates the result of his father Keke Rosberg, champion in 1982, making him part of only the second driver from the same family to win an F1 title.

Outgoing champion Hamilton won the race from start-to-finish, maintaining form but unable to make more of an impact into the title despite attempting to back him up into a flying Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages.

Indeed, Rosberg was made to work hard for the title after a tight finish saw both Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel get close to denying him the result he needed to be crowned.

Settling into second place behind Hamilton after a clean start, Rosberg led Kimi Raikkonen, who punished a slow getaway from Daniel Ricciardo by grabbing third, while Max Verstappen spun down to the last after clipping the sidepod of Nico Hulkenberg's Force India and turning round.

With the ultra-soft tyres fading quickly as to necessitate early stops, it appeared Hamilton would be destined to lose out to Rosberg when he had to wait for Raikkonen's Ferrari to pass before he could be released from his box. However, when the same thing happened to Rosberg a lap later as Sebastian Vettel came in with him, there would be no change.

Even so, Rosberg would still exit the pits to find Verstappen between himself and Hamilton, the Dutchman - who started on the super soft - benefiting from the early stops to rise up the order quickly and provide a hurdle for the champion-elect to deal with.

Though he could afford to sit back to a certain extent, particularly as Raikkonen couldn't make much headway behind him either, Rosberg had other ideas as it became apparent Verstappen would strive for a one-stop strategy by making his tyres go long on the first stint.

Sensing a challenge, Rosberg launched a mighty effort to get past Verstappen on lap 20, going wheel-to-wheel with him through turn seven and coming remarkably close to contact. Though Verstappen would survive the first attack, a slow exit instead allowed Rosberg to get a run past him down to turn 11 where he'd complete the pass into a net second position.

With Hamilton and Rosberg completing their second stops cleanly on lap 28 and 29, enough to get them ahead of Verstappen, up front Vettel was going long on his second stint in the Ferrari, the German eventually coming in on lap 37.

With far fresher tyres but down in sixth, Vettel began making headway swiftly up the order, quickly dispatching of Raikkonen and Ricciardo before chasing down Verstappen in third.

Out front, meanwhile, Hamilton was managing his pace, enough not to allow Rosberg a run on him but enough to put his rival in danger of those directly behind him. Forcing Mercedes to give him the hurry up as Verstappen and particularly Vettel loomed in the final 10 laps, Hamilton snapped back that he wanted to be allowed to 'race'.

With Verstappen - on older tyres - not quite able to make an impression on Rosberg, it instead fell to Vettel to make his challenge, passing the Dutchman with four laps to go and setting about on Rosberg as Paddy Lowe came onto the radio to order Hamilton to pick up his pace.

With Hamilton seemingly unwilling to comply, Vettel attempted to pass on the penultimate lap but Rosberg would keep his countryman at bay

It would prove to be his only convincing effort, Rosberg holding his nerve over the final lap to cross the line second and be confirmed as the 2016 F1 world champion.

With just 1.6secs covering the top four of Hamilton - who reeled off his 10th win of the season - Rosberg, Vettel and the impressive one-stopping Verstappen, Ricciardo and Raikkonen came home a lonely fifth and sixth as different strategies came into play.

Force India confirmed fourth place in the constructors' standings with a solid seventh and eighth place run, Nico Hulkenberg ending his career at the team by finishing ahead of Sergio Perez on the road.

Felipe Massa ends his F1 career with a solid run to ninth position, fending off the attentions of Fernando Alonso who picked up the tenth and final point for McLaren.

Elsewhere, Jenson Button's apparent final F1 race came to an end on lap 12 after suffering a suspension issue while running in eighth position.

POINTS: The 2016 Drivers & Constructors World Championship standings!

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