Nico Rosberg: A deserved F1 world champion?

At the US Grand Prix last month, Martin Brundle sat down in an interview with Lewis Hamilton and asked the straightforward question: "If Nico [Rosberg] wins the title this year, will he have deserved it?"

Lewis avoided a yes or no answer, responding "He's done the job with what he has." Essentially, Rosberg has done what he needed to do. That phrase may well sum up how he became the 2016 Formula One World Champion.

He did not beat Hamilton in a straight fight every race, but instead he stepped up when it mattered, and after 21 races, he scored more points than Hamilton. It's as simple as that.

Hamilton fans may pinpoint two races this season where the title escaped him: Spa and Malaysia. 

In Spa, Hamilton was marred by an excessive 55-place grid penalty. Although he recovered well to claim a podium, Rosberg won the race comfortably. 

Equipped with a fresh power unit at the Malaysian GP, Hamilton dominated until 15 laps to go when he suffered a spectacular engine failure and sparked the subsequent conspiracy theories regarding Mercedes. Rosberg also had an eventful race, including a spin and a time penalty, but he still recovered to third, collecting crucial points along the way. 

Although reliability was certainly a factor in this season's championship, it is part and parcel of Motorsport and something that has to be accepted. As Hamilton noted post-race, it is not Nico's fault that he has had good reliability this year. 

It is also worth noting that there have been numerous races this season where Hamilton has lost out on merit. Having struggled with the single clutch rule change for 2016, Hamilton has often made poor starts and had to recover, and on these occasions Rosberg has cruised to victory.

For instance, in China he had a torrid weekend and only recovered to seventh. In Japan, he only managed third after a poor start. These may only be two examples, but it is telling that Rosberg won both these races. Again, we are back to the recurring theme of this season - Rosberg did what he needed to do when it mattered. 

After that disastrous Malaysian GP failure, Hamilton did everything he could to take the title. He won the last four races of the season. But ultimately after Malaysia the title battle swung in Rosberg's favour and from then it was out of Hamilton's hands. 

Although he may not have won the title in the style he may have wanted, Rosberg's statistics this year are further evidence of why he deserved the championship: Nine wins, six podiums and 20 points finishes from 21 races. That's the kind of consistency you need to become a world champion. 

Rosberg also handled himself like a champion in today's race. He knew it was his to lose but still put it all on the line to pass Verstappen early on. In the latter stages, he coped with immense pressure as Hamilton backed him up into the Red Bulls and charging Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. 

Shifting the focus from this year, Rosberg has been a crucial part of the Mercedes squad since its return to F1 in 2010, and it is fitting that he won the title for them. They became truly competitive in 2013 and then have dominated the sport since 2014. 

Rosberg's successes with the team have been a worthy reward for his patience and commitment to the team in the years where - alongside seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher - the team struggled to find its feet for a few seasons. 

Like many British F1 fans, I'll admit I wanted Lewis to take the title today. That being said, I accept that Rosberg is a worthy champion, and he should take delight in being only the second driver behind Damon Hill to follow in his father's footsteps and become a Formula One World Champion.