Rosberg: “It’s only one very small step”

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Nico Rosberg has taken his 11th, and most crucial, pole of the Formula One season for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

Rosberg ends the year with an 11-7 pole edge over Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Lewis Hamilton, who leads Rosberg by 17 points entering tomorrow’s race (7 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

However, Rosberg once again was quick to downplay the achievement and shift the focus to tomorrow’s race, where the World Championship between the two will be decided.

“It was a great day again for sure,” Rosberg said during the TV unilaterals. “I’m thankful to the engineers and everything. They sorted out the car and I’m really happy with the setup.

“It was a good lap at the end. But of course it’s only one very small step. It’s about the championship, not pole position or anything. Valtteri (Bottas) said he got a perfect lap, but it would have been better if he got between us. Starting first is the best place to be.”

He had more to offer for the rest of the post-qualifying press conference, while Hamilton, who sat next to him, was in stark contrast with fewer words to say.

The stage is set for a dramatic conclusion, and of course much anticipation of the drivers’ run down to Turn 1. Rosberg, on the clean side of the track, should have the advantage.

Statistically speaking though, while Rosberg has had 10 prior poles this season, he’s only been able to convert three of them into victories. He did so at Monaco, Germany and last time out at Brazil.

“My mindset is I need to get the job done and continue on the form I had in Brazil in the race,” Rosberg admitted.

Rosberg is needing to be in full attack this weekend as he seeks his first championship; he’s done what he’s needed to do on Saturday to make it happen.