Sunday's final race in this year's Formula 1 calendar involved a rivalry out at a desert racetrack in the Middle East, which ended with British driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes winning both the race and the 2014 drivers' title.
Hamilton, 29, who previously won the 2008 F1 season, overtook German driver Nico Rosberg, 29, of Mercedes to take the checkered flag and world championship Sunday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. According to a report from Sky News, he is only the fourth Briton to win more than one world title, placing him alongside the ranks of Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart.
"I can't really explain how much this means, but it means more than the first one," Hamilton said after crossing the line. "This is the greatest day of my life. 2008 was special but the feeling I have now is way past that. It's the greatest feeling I have ever had."
Thanks to a controversial F1 rule that awarded double points in the final race only, Rosberg had multiple chances to clench the title over rival Hamilton. Rosberg entered the race with a 17-point deficit, and according to Sky News, he needed Hamilton to finish third to win the F1 title for the first time ever; Hamilton only needed to be in the top two to win the championship.
However, Brad Spurgeon of the New York Times reported that Rosberg essentially gave Hamilton the victory thanks to his car's various technical problems by Mercedes, which included the loss of its energy recovery system and difficulties in both the throttle and brakes.
"Rosberg started the race on pole, but Hamilton passed him by the first corner, and then on Lap 25 of the 55-lap race, Rosberg's technical problems began," Spurgeon wrote.
Despite losing the title to Hamilton, finishing in 14th place and being plagued by technical difficulties, Rosberg was quite gracious in defeat. According to Spurgeon, both drivers have known each other since they were 12 years old, and they previously worked as teammates in go-kart racing at age 15.
"I'm very disappointed, a good chance was there today," Rosberg said. "It didn't work out, but in the end my race didn't make a difference because Lewis won fair and square. I won't dwell on my issue today."
Their friendship and rivalry was best illustrated by the fact Rosberg broke with traditional F1 protocol to congratulate Hamilton in the victory podium antechamber. That area is reserved only for the top three drivers, according to Spurgeon.
"It's been so intense between us all year long, there have been good moments and bad moments," Hamilton said. "But without doubt we have a relationship or a friendship that we built a long time ago and that will still be there."
Hamilton added that "I will have to pick up my qualifying pace next year," noting that either of them could have won Sunday's race.
F1 legend and three-time champion Niki Lauda, now a non-executive chairman of Mercedes, told Andrew Benson of BBC Sport that Hamilton had an "outstanding performance" by winning 11 races this year. However, Lauda noted that he became emotional after seeing how Rosberg, a fellow Mercedes driver, handled defeat.
"The biggest pleasure I had today, where I really got emotional, was when I saw Nico went up and congratulated Lewis," Lauda said. "This is really an outstanding performance by Nico, especially because I know what discussions we had after Spa."
Lauda added that next year's F1 season should be an excellent one for the fans, considering that both Hamilton and Rosberg have pushed each other's performance to the limits on the racetrack.
"When you overcome all these issues, one wins the title and the other doesn't, one hit the other, the other didn't," Lauda said. "It's going to be easier next year because they respect each other's level of performance."