The stage is set for the third installment of Nico Rosberg vs. Lewis Hamilton in the battle for the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship, and the second time it’s come down to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix between them.
The third installment, like others, has elements from the first two but isn’t identical.
Hamilton led the points each of the last two years before going into the championship-deciding race, and has thus far prevailed in both of them.
Meanwhile in 2014, the specter of double points loomed large against the race as a backdrop, and Hamilton’s won coupled with Rosberg’s non-points finish ensured they didn’t come into play. That regulation was dropped after that lone occurrence.
The two are tied on wins with nine apiece this year; a 10th for either would ensure Mercedes a 19th win from 21 Grands Prix in this, the longest season in F1 history.
However, so long as Rosberg gets on the podium, the title is his. And with the “one race at a time” mentality having served him well all season, the German isn’t changing his strategy now.
“Obviously, the result in Brazil wasn’t the one I was going for. But Lewis did a great job and second place wasn’t a disaster in the end,” Rosberg said heading into the race in the team’s pre-race advance.
“I’m looking forward now to Abu Dhabi. It feels great to be in the World Championship battle with Lewis for a third year in a row. I will give it everything to end the season with a win. I’ve had a great week, relaxing and catching up with my family and friends, so I feel like I’m in a good place.
“In Brazil, after the race, I was joking that I would still be taking things one race at a time. But, the more I think about it, the more that’s actually not as crazy as it sounds. I have to treat this like any other race. Doing a good job on a Grand Prix weekend is always a challenge. Nothing in this sport is easy, so this won’t be any different and I still have to go all out for a good result.
“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.”
Hamilton, who’s won in Abu Dhabi on two occasions (2011, 2014), continues with the nothing-to-lose mentality – as given the situation he’s been faced in since his power unit failure in Malaysia and subsequent shocker of the weekend at Japan, he’s done everything he’s needed to since to get back in the game.
“To finally win in Brazil was a moment I’ll never forget. It had been a long time coming,” he reflected.
“I’m in a good place right now. I’m feeling super strong in this amazing car that everyone at the factories has worked so hard to give us. I’ve had 31 wins in four years with this team so far, which is just crazy. I’m so thankful for the great opportunity these guys have given me. We’re continuing to make history together.
“It’s not been a perfect season and I’m faced with pretty impossible odds no matter what I do this weekend. But I can’t and won’t give up. You never know what might happen – however unlikely it may seem. I’ll be proud of myself and what I’ve achieved as long as I feel I’ve given my all and performed at my best.
“And, whatever happens, I’m proud of everyone who’s been a part of the success we’ve shared over the past few years. I’m approaching this weekend the same as I do every race. I want to win and I’ll give it everything to finish the season on a high.”