Rosberg and Hamilton in final showdown for F1 title
NICO ROSBERG (caricature) aims to cap an all but trouble-free Formula One season with his first world title on Sunday in a final showdown with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The German Rosberg takes a 12-point lead over the three-time champion Hamilton into the day-into-night race on the 5.554km Yas Marina Course, knowing a podium finish will make him emulate his father Keke Rosberg who won the F1 trophy in 1982 – regardless if Hamilton wins.
Rosberg comes to Abu Dhabi after having spent some days with his family and friends, and will not change the approach he has used all season, treating the finale of the 21-race season “like any other race.”
“I will give it everything to end the season with a win,” Rosberg said. “I have great memories from winning at this track last year and it’s somewhere I’ve usually been strong in the past, so I have every reason to feel confident.
“The closer it gets, the more I’m feeling excited. It will be a big battle and hopefully the fans will get a great show to end the year.”
Rosberg had already lost the 2015 title race when he won in Abu Dhabi 12 months ago, and was without a chance with engine problems in the 2014 championship which Hamilton had entered 17 points ahead of him and clinched with a victory.
Rosberg finished 14th in that race, and Ham- ilton would need a similar scenario this time around as a victory alone is not good enough for the Briton after a few setbacks this season, most notably when his engine blew while he was leading the Malaysian race last month.
“It’s not been a perfect season and I’m faced with pretty impossible odds no matter what I do this weekend,” he said.
“But I can’t and won’t give up. You never know what might happen - however unlikely it may seem.”
Apart from his 2014 success Hamilton has seen both sides of a season finale in his 10 seasons in the sport. He lost the 2007 title by one point against Kimi Raikkonen and there was even more drama the following year when he edged Felipe Massa by one point by snatching the required fifth-place finish in the very last lap of the last race in Brazil.
Rosberg has had less issues with the car than Hamilton and been rock solid and focussed in almost every race in the season he started with four straight victories. And he did what he had to do in the last three races, coming second behind Hamilton to have his fate in his own hands.
The very last thing the team and the drivers now want is that a mechanical problem decides the title race, as Mercedes officials have vowed they will do everything to provide their drivers with the best cars to fight it out over the 55 laps. “We will approach this weekend as we would any other, with the primary objective of ensuring that the title is decided on track in a fair fight,” technical director Paddy Lowe said. Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff said: “As a group we now have one very important final duty this season – to give Nico and Lewis the platform they need to battle it out to the flag.” “May the best man win,” Wolff added, saying: “Both of them have been exceptional and either one would make a worthy champion.” The race weekend, which starts with practice tomorrow and has qualifying tomorrow, also marks the end of Massa’s career highlighted by the runner-up championship finish eight years ago. It’s going to be another emotional one!” the Brazilian Williams driver said. “I really hope the final, and 250th race of my Formula One career, can be a fantastic one. We will of course have a big party! Hopefully we can celebrate with a great result.” – dpa