Happy father's day as Rosberg repeats history

Nico Rosberg (front) celebrates at the end of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on Nov 27, 2016.
Nico Rosberg (front) celebrates at the end of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on Nov 27, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

ABU DHABI • Keke Rosberg became the first Formula One world champion to watch his son win the title, but he did it from a distance.

The 67-year-old Finn was conspicuous by his absence at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

"My dad, he likes his three monitors. To have everything in front of him - the timing, the on-boards, this and that, so he prefers to be there rather than here," Nico Rosberg said on Saturday of the Monaco-based 1982 champion.

Although Graham and Damon Hill were the first father and son world champions, the double title-winning Briton died in a plane crash 21 years before his son triumphed with Williams in 1996.

Keke has been a familiar face at pre-season testing, and a regular at the Monaco Grand Prix given the proximity to his home, but decided long ago to stop commenting on Nico's achievements and progress.

Keke, who won his title with just one victory and ended his Formula One career with a mere five in total, was ever-present during Nico's early days at Williams, but has since reversed out.

Nico could be considered a chip off the old block after the Mercedes driver followed his Finnish father in winning the Formula One title, but that would be a mistake.

A glance at old photographs and race reports serves to highlight the different personalities, even if both are now only the second set of father and son world champions.

The moustachioed Keke was swashbuckling, hard-charging, fast and muscular behind the wheel as well as being a chain smoker in an era when drivers could not always be sure of surviving the season.

Nico, a personable and healthy-living family man with an easy charm sometimes mistaken for blandness, is much more likely to be seen tucking into an organic salad or devouring reams of data.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2016, with the headline 'Happy father's day as Rosberg repeats history'. Print Edition | Subscribe