F1 champion Nico Rosberg's battle with Max Verstappen 'brave'

Christian Horner described Nico Rosberg's pass on Max Verstappen as "brave" and a deciding moment in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where he clinched the Formula 1 world title

F1 champion Nico Rosberg's battle with Max Verstappen 'brave'

Rosberg found himself behind Verstappen, who spun at the first corner after contact with Nico Hulkenberg and fought back up while staying out as the leading cars pitted.

Mercedes told Rosberg he needed to pass Verstappen but to be careful, setting up a tense battle as the two went wheel-to-wheel with the Red Bull driver holding firm.

After backing off for a few laps, Rosberg was instructed to attack again as it was critical to his race and this time, the German made a pass stick through Turns 8 and 9.

"Nico was quite brave on the move that he made on Max," said Red Bull team principal Horner.

"It looked like he decided to get on with it at that point, we know Max isn't the easiest car in the paddock to overtake.

How Rosberg dodged Hamilton's minefield

"For me, that was the deciding moment in Nico's race."

Rosberg described being told to pass Verstappen as "not a nice thing to hear", adding to the stress of the title fight with Lewis Hamilton, who tried to back him into the chasing pack.

While Sebastian Vettel eventually took over as Rosberg's closest threat at the end, Verstappen completed his one-stop strategy to take fourth place.

"He lost very little time passing all of those cars and not killing his tyres," said Horner.

"So then to be able to get those tyres to get to lap 21 was a very impressive performance."

Horner said it became clear a one-stop was possible when Hamilton did not pull away at the front and Rosberg cooled off his attack of Verstappen momentarily.

"It looked like Rosberg was being instructed not to go anywhere near Max," said Horner.

"While he was doing that obviously that was making the one stop become more and more available.

"Lewis looked like he was hanging back waiting for him so the fact that Max was able to get to lap 21 on the super-soft tyre, from that point it looked like a one-stop was the plan."

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