Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes that both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg would make worthy Formula 1 world champions as they prepare for their title showdown in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
Hamilton leads by 17 points heading to the final race of the year, and is bidding for his second F1 title after winning with McLaren back in 2008.
Rosberg has never been involved in a title fight before, but has enjoyed the best season of his career to give himself a fighting chance of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming world champion.
In a year that has seen Mercedes win its first ever constructors’ championship, Wolff believes that both drivers would be worthy champions, and that the eventual loser should not be too disheartened by the defeat.
“When we look back through the season, each driver has had his share of ups and downs and both have shown great strength of character to recover from setbacks,” Wolff said. “As a team we are fortunate to have such a talented line-up and both are worthy champions in the eyes of everybody behind them at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart.
“Of course, there will be bitter disappointment for one of them and great joy for the other. While it won’t be apparent to them at the time, both have long careers ahead of them and they have proven their credentials for the years to come.
“You only have to look back to such great battles as that of [Niki] Lauda and [Alain] Prost in 1984 to see what can be achieved. This was the last title for Niki, who won that year, and Prost was defeated in that battle.
“But he then went on to win four championships before he retired. A top driver always has the ability to engineer another opportunity and both our boys have proven themselves to be just that: top drivers.”
Wolff said that the onus was now on the team to ensure that no reliability problems or technical issues denied either driver from a fair shot at the title in Abu Dhabi.
“It is now down to us to ensure that this fascinating year concludes in the right way by giving Lewis and Nico a platform to settle the title purely on the track,” Wolff said. “It is fantastic for the sport to have such a finale in what has been one of the great seasons of Formula 1.
“I for one cannot wait to watch the race in Abu Dhabi and I’m sure those at home feel the same. May the best man win!”