Lewis Hamilton: I don't want to give Sebastian Vettel last race in Abu Dhabi
British racer Lewis is adamant to cap off season’s last race in Abu Dhabi with a win even after securing Formula One world championship two races ago
The world championship may have already been decided, but the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel will rage on, as they both bid to end the year on a high at this weekend's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
For Hamilton, who wrapped up the championship in Mexico two races ago, victory on Sunday will mark the perfect conclusion to a year that delivered the Mercedes driver his fourth world title. For his Ferrari rival, victory in the last race in Brazil will provide some consolation, however little, after having lost out to his British counterpart.
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton (right) tries to make a point next to German racer Sebastian Vettel during the drivers' press conference ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One GP yesterday. Pic/AFP
Regardless, Sunday's race will be the last chance this season for each of the pair, locked in a riveting title battle all year long, to beat the other and claim bragging rights heading into the winter.
"We have this battle, wanting to get ahead of each other," Hamilton, sitting alongside Vettel, told reporters at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina circuit yesterday.
"Obviously, in the last race Sebastian won and (I) don't particularly want to give you this one," Hamilton, 32, who started the Brazilian race from the pitlane after crashing in qualifying with Vettel lining up second, added turning to the German.
"Either way I think it's just about approaching it the same, giving it everything, as if you are still fighting for the championship."
Hamilton has won nine races so far this season to Vettel's five. But he hasn't stood on the top step of the podium since last month's United States Grand Prix. He clinched the title with a ninth-place finish in Mexico and fought his way back up to fourth in Brazil.
Vettel said losing the title was a bitter feeling, but his win at Sao Paulo's Interlagos circuit lifted spirits at Ferrari. A second in a row, if he pulls it off, would be his first back-to-back triumph this year. It will give the Italian team some momentum and optimism to carry into next year. "Well, it was toe-to-toe, for most of the season, but not for the important part of the season," said Vettel. "So, in a way I'd love this press conference to be less relaxed but that's not the case. We are completely fired up. Obviously, everybody will be pushing very hard over the winter. We have what we need. It all starts again next year, so let's see," he added.
As host to the finale of the 20-race season, Abu Dhabi's 5.5-kilometer floodlit track will also witness some fond farewells. Felipe Massa will bow out of Formula One for the second time after being called back by Williams for this season just days after originally retiring at the end of last year. He finished seventh in his home race in Brazil, behind only the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull cars, and will be gunning for another strong result with which to round off his career. "For me, it will be quite an emotional weekend as it will be my final race with Williams as well as my final race in Formula One," said the 11-time grand prix winner.
"I am looking forward to it and plan to enjoy every moment, to finish my Formula One career on a high note!" he added.
Meanwhile, McLaren and Honda will mark the last race of their troubled reunion. The Japanese manufacturer will supply engines to Toro Rosso next year with McLaren picking up the Red Bull-owned team's supply of Renault engines. "I know I can speak for the whole team when I say that each and every one of us embarks on our final grand prix weekend as McLaren Honda in Abu Dhabi with both optimism and respect," said McLaren's racing director Eric Boullier.
"All of us will go into the weekend with exactly the same aim – to work hard and do everything we can to finish the season positively," he added.
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