The Final Showdown: Hamilton and Rosberg prepare for one final battle in Abu Dhabi


ABU DHABI – After eighteen races, the 2014 Formula 1 world championship has come down to the final round of the year in Abu Dhabi. It’s the sport’s equivalent of game seven – the decider. Lewis Hamilton versus Nico Rosberg, for one last time in this sensational year of racing.

Heading into the final grand prix of the year with a 17-point lead, Hamilton certainly has the upper hand. All he has to do is finish second in Abu Dhabi to be crowned world champion for a second time.

However, on Saturday, Rosberg tipped the scales back in his favor by bagging his eleventh pole position of the season, leaving Hamilton second on the grid. All the German can do today is win. In reality, the fate of the title is out of his hands – it is Lewis who will decide the outcome.

Hamilton looked set to claim pole position in qualifying yesterday after topping FP1, FP2, Q1 and Q2 in Abu Dhabi, threatening to deal yet another blow to Rosberg’s slim hopes of a first world title. In the final shootout for pole though, it was Lewis who cracked under the pressure, making small mistakes on his hot laps to end up second on the grid. These wobbles may give a glimmer of hope to Rosberg, who spoke about the pressure Hamilton is under after the session yesterday.

“Of course, pressure is one of the hopes I have,” Rosberg said. “If Lewis feels the pressure and makes a mistake as a result, that’s the sort of opportunity that I’m looking for and trying to push for.

“I push flat out, all the time to try and keep the level extremely high and that’s all I can do really – go for the win and keep the pressure on.”

And that is all Nico can do today. This is not a ‘winner takes all’ fight, but with our title protagonists starting on the front row of the grid, we are left with a mouth-watering prospect. This is the first time since 2000 that we head into the title decider with the contenders P1 and P2 on the grid, when Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen enjoyed an epic duel at Suzuka. Let us hope that a similar race unfolds this weekend.

The shadow of double points does loom large in Abu Dhabi, but the hope is that it does not overshadow the title race. Up to now, it has not had any impact on proceedings as the title race would have gone to the final race of the year anyway. However, if Rosberg were to win the championship by virtue of the ‘gimmick’ (as John Surtees called it at the beginning of the year), it would raise a few questions about the validity of the win. Would it be a hollow victory?

Nico certainly would be a worthy champion, but there are similarities with his father’s title victory in 1982. Despite winning just one race all year, Keke Rosberg clinched the title in Las Vegas at the final race, finishing five points clear of Didier Pironi, who had not raced in the final four races of the year due to a career-ending injury. Nico has won half as many races as Lewis this year, but with ten second-place finishes to his name, he has been consistent.

The 1988 championship is regarded as a classic due to the intense fight between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at McLaren. Senna won the title, but it was only by virtue of the dropped score rule. Had every result counted, Prost would have won it, 105 points to 94. Was Senna an unworthy champion? Certainly not. Nico should not be held in the same regard if he does come out on top today.

The other Senna/Prost comparison will come on the run down to the first corner today. In both 1989 and 1990, the championship was decided by a crash between the title contenders, meaning all was settled by turn one. Lewis was quoted at Monaco as saying that he could do something similar to Senna on the run down to the first corner, but it was never a serious threat – at least we hope not. Although both drivers will want to make a point and rattle their rival today, it must all be kept clean, for the sake of the championship and the sport.

Even with double points, Hamilton heads into the race as the big favorite thanks to Mercedes’ enormous pace advantage over the rest of the field. Although Williams did run the Silver Arrows close in qualifying, hinging Rosberg’s hopes on either Valtteri Bottas or Felipe Massa finishing ahead of Hamilton in the race is risky. In Russia, Bottas nearly scored pole, but was well down in the race on both Mercedes drivers. The same is likely to happen in Abu Dhabi. It’s difficult to see Lewis, under normal conditions, finishing third. Of course though, you can never say never…

Hamilton has long stated that he won’t be changing his attitude for the race – that is, winning is everything – but if second place is enough for him, he must take what is on offer. Trailing Nico home in a processional race may not be the championship finale we want, but it could be what we are left with.

That said, this championship fight has been one of the most intriguing in years – there could yet be one more kick in the tail as the sun sets in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis and Nico, we wish you the very best of luck. Thank you for being the stars of our show in 2014.

IndyCar results, points after Detroit Grand Prix


DETROIT — Alex Palou topped the results of an NTT IndyCar Series race for the second time this season, extending his championship points lead with his victory in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who also won the GMR Grand Prix (and the Indy 500 pole position) last month, holds a 51-point lead over teammate Marcus Ericsson (ninth at Detroit) through seven of 17 races this season.

Ganassi, which placed all four of its drivers in the top 10 at Detroit, has three of the top four in the championship standings with Scott Dixon ranked fourth after a fourth at Detroit.

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Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden is third in the standings after taking a 10th at Detroit. Pato O’Ward slipped to fifth in the points after crashing and finishing 26th

Here are the IndyCar results and points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:


Click here for the official box score from the 100-lap race on a nine-turn, 1.645-mile street course in downtown Detroit.

Lap leader summary

Full lap chart

Best section times

Full section data

Event summary

Pit stop summary

Here is the finishing order in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix with starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 100, Running
2. (7) Will Power, Chevrolet, 100, Running
3. (9) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 100, Running
4. (4) Scott Dixon, Honda, 100, Running
5. (13) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 100, Running
6. (12) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 100, Running
7. (2) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 100, Running
8. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 100, Running
9. (6) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 100, Running
10. (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 100, Running
11. (24) Colton Herta, Honda, 100, Running
12. (17) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 100, Running
13. (8) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 100, Running
14. (20) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 100, Running
15. (15) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 100, Running
16. (18) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 100, Running
17. (25) Jack Harvey, Honda, 100, Running
18. (14) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 100, Running
19. (23) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 100, Running
20. (19) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 97, Running
21. (22) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 97, Running
22. (26) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 97, Running
23. (21) David Malukas, Honda, 85, Contact
24. (3) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 80, Contact
25. (27) Graham Rahal, Honda, 50, Contact
26. (10) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 41, Contact
27. (16) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 1, Contact

Winner’s average speed: 80.922 mph; Time of Race: 02:01:58.1171; Margin of victory: 1.1843 seconds; Cautions: 7 for 32 laps; Lead changes: 10 among seven drivers. Lap Leaders: Palou 1-28; Power 29-33; O’Ward 34; Palou 35-55; Power 56-64; Palou 65; Rossi 66; Newgarden 67-68; Kirkwood 69; Ericsson 70-76; Palou 77-100.


Click here for the points tally in the race.

Here are the points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:



Engine manufacturers

Pit stop performance

Top 10 in points: Palou 273, Ericsson 222, Newgarden 203, Dixon 194, O’Ward 191, Rossi 176, McLaughlin 175, Power 172, Herta 149, Rosenqvist 148.

Rest of the standings: Grosjean 145, Kirkwood 142, Lundgaard 136, Ilott 116, VeeKay 108, Ferrucci 105, Armstrong 101, Rahal 99, Malukas 91, Daly 88, DeFrancesco 81, Castroneves 80, Harvey 78, Canapino 77, Pagenaud 72, Pedersen 61, Robb 55, Takuma Sato 37, Ed Carpenter 27, Ryan Hunter-Reay 20, Tony Kanaan 18, Marco Andretti 13, RC Enerson 5, Katherine Legge 5.

Next race: IndyCar will head to Road America for the Sonsio Grand Prix, which will take place June 18 with coverage starting at 1 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.