F1: Its winner-takes-all in Rosberg vs Hamilton battle at Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi: The final act in the Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg saga will be played out on Sunday night in Abu Dhabi with the prospect of double-points potentially adding a final twist to the tale as the sun sets on one of the most dramatic seasons in recent years.
Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg (left) and Lewis Hamilton. Pic/Getty Images
Hamilton leads Rosberg by 17 points heading into the finale of a season packed with twists and turns as the momentum in the battle for the title has constantly shifted from one championship protagonist to the other.
The Briton has won 10 races this year to Rosberg's five and has held the edge in recent rounds, claiming five wins on the trot. But the German has reignited his title challenge, winning the last race in Brazil, and has thrust himself right back into contention.
With a maximum of 50 points up for grabs this weekend instead of the usual 25 thanks to the controversial double-points rule, the title race remains wide open.
"There is zero comfort going into the next race because it's 50 points to gain and that's never happened in Formula 1 before," Hamilton said after the last race in Brazil.
"It just so happens to be this season and in the last race you never know what's going to happen. So I'm going to the last race to win."
While his Brazil victory would have ensured Rosberg went into the season finale in contention for the title irrespective of the double points, there is no doubt they have made clinching the championship slightly easier for him.
Under the regular points system a sixth place finish would have been good enough to secure Hamilton the title even if Rosberg won. But on Sunday Hamilton will have to finish at least second if his rival makes it onto the top step of the podium.
Similarly, while Rosberg would have had to have finished in the top two to have any hope of the title under the regular points system, on Sunday, he could — depending on where Hamilton finishes — clinch the title by finishing anywhere in the top five.
"Well, I find it artificial and I don't like it in general," Rosberg told reporters after winning the Brazilian Grand Prix. "Of course, now, with the way it is, it's great for me now, at the moment, but you know that's just because of the situation."