F1: Hamilton’s title showdown with Rosberg at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
PUBLISHED: 10:50 23 November 2014 | UPDATED: 12:51 23 November 2014
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton faces Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg in a straight fight for the world title today (Sunday) at the season-deciding 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Rosberg lines up on pole position at the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit, with Hertfordshire-born Hamilton alongside him for the desert duel.
The Silver Arrows secured an eighth consecutive front row lockout during qualifying, with the Williams pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa filling the second row of the grid.
With a 17-point lead in the championship race, Hamilton needs to finish only second today (Sunday) to secure the world title for the second time after his dramatic 2008 triumph.
However, with double points at stake, Rosberg could still deny the 29-year-old Mercedes ace from Hertfordshire the drivers’ championship in this afternoon’s title showdown.
Yas Marina – the stats you need
* Race distance: 55 laps (305.355km/189.747 miles)
* Start time: 17:00 (local)/13:00 (GMT)
* Circuit length: 5.554km/3.451 miles
* 2013 winner: Sebastian Vettel
* 2013 pole: Mark Webber
* Lap record: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB5) 1m40.279s (199.387km/h)
Hamilton would have lined up on pole himself for the season finale but for a couple of ragged laps in Q3.
After qualifying on Saturday, he said: “I didn’t have the best of laps today.
“Q1 and Q2 were very good and I didn’t make any mistakes in Q3, it just wasn’t a good lap.
“I really enjoyed it though and the car was fantastic.”
Looking ahead to the race, he said in the F1 paddock: “Tomorrow [Sunday] is when it counts; my approach will be the same as always.
“I had very good pace throughout practice, particularly on the long runs which gives me confidence for tomorrow [Sunday].
“It’s not my style to settle for second place but we’ll need to decide how to play it.”
After securing his 11th pole position of the season with a couple of scorching laps in qualifying, Rosberg said: “Thanks to the engineers, the set-up of my car was very much to my liking at the end.
Head to head
Before Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend
* Championship Position: P1
* Points: 334
* Wins: 10
* Podiums: 15
* Pole Positions: 7
* Front Row Starts: 14
* Fastest Laps: 7
* Laps Led: 455 (42% of season total)
* Sessions Led: 60 (48% of season total)
* Championship Position: P2
* Points: 317
* Wins: 5
* Podiums: 15
* Pole Positions: 10
* Front Row Starts: 14
* Fastest Laps: 5
* Laps Led: 482 (45% of season total)
* Sessions Led: 47 (37% of season total)
“We did an amazing job together. I had two great laps in Q3 – but qualifying is only one step to having a good weekend.
“I hope that I can continue my form from the last race and win but, as we all know, I need some help to take the title.
“It will be tough but these things happen a lot in sport.”
Knowing Hamilton has one hand on the title, Rosberg intends to pressure his Mercedes team-mate into a mistake.
Rosberg said: “I will push flat out and keep the pressure high on Lewis to try to force him into a mistake like in Brazil and also hope that the Williams have a chance to be in between us.
“I’m highly motivated and very happy about how today [Saturday] went for me.
“Finally I want to say thank you for all the support I’ve received out there.
“That’s new to me and a great feeling as I’ve never been in the situation of a Championship fight before.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport chief Toto Wolff praised both his drivers after qualifying on Saturday.
He said: “This evening, we achieved the first part of our mission this weekend with another front row lockout for the team.
“Nico did a fantastic job, like we have come to expect from him in qualifying this season.
“It has been a great run for him to get 11 poles this year and become the ‘pole champion’.
As for Hamilton, Wolff added: “Lewis didn’t put the perfect lap together but second place is still very much okay as a starting position for him.
“He’s totally professional and knows that tomorrow [Sunday] is what counts.
“A lot of people have been asking what we will be saying to the drivers before Sunday’s race and the answer is: nothing, it’s too late.
“They are in the zone now and we will leave them in peace to prepare for tomorrow evening.
“I know they will put on a great race for us and all the Formula One fans around the world.”
Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe added: “Lewis didn’t get the best out of the car on each of his Q3 runs but that shouldn’t take anything away from the amazing laps
Nico put together – effectively taking pole twice in the final session.
“Overall, the stage is perfectly set for a fantastic Championship showdown.”
Bookies make Hamilton, with 10 wins to his credit so far this season, odds on for championship, and pole-sitter Rosberg odds on for race.
Hamilton represents a near £200,000 payout for William Hill should he pick up the Championship, for which he is 2/7 to do so.
Rosberg is 11/4, despite starting on pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He is 4/5 to win the race with Hamilton just behind at 5/4.
There is no doubting that the pressure will be on both Hamilton and Rosberg and it is 14/1 for both drivers to collide, resulting in one of them departing the race.
Hamilton is 20/1 to lose the World Championship as a result of a collision with Rosberg.
“It is the final countdown and by late Sunday afternoon, we will know which driver handled the pressure the best and scooped the World Championship,” said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.
“The odds suggest it will be Lewis.”
The 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix starts at 1pm.
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