By Alan Baldwin
ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton had assured everyone his family would not be with him on the biggest weekend of his Formula One career but they thought otherwise.
As the Mercedes driver took the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi for the race win and his second title, father Anthony, brother Nic, step-mother Linda and girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger were there to celebrate.
The night before, Hamilton had messaged his father to say he was thinking of him.
"I went out to the beach and I was messaging with him and I said 'Guys, I would love you to be here but just know I'm here working away...I'm trying to make you proud,'" he told reporters.
The message dropped onto Anthony's mobile just as he and the rest of the family were on the runway and awaiting takeoff on an Abu Dhabi-bound plane.
"He didn’t know we were coming," said Anthony, wearing a champion's T-shirt with the rest of the team. "We decided that we were not going to come. We wanted him to be fully focused on the job.
"But then I just figured it would be nice to be here for him, win or lose. He’s going to need somebody. If you lose, he needs us. If he wins, he’s still going to need us. And so we booked the plane, got on it and here we are.
"I am even more proud because he’s done it on his own. He’s had lots of family support but he’s made the decisions himself, he’s driven the thing himself and he’s now a double world champion," added Hamilton senior.
The double champion said he was not really surprised.
"My family are the ones that got me into racing, they're the ones that sacrificed everything to get me to where I am today," he said.
"Who you see today is because of them, so being here without them didn't feel right. They have every right to be here to enjoy it with me."
(Editing by Mark Meadows)