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WATCH: Rosberg vs Hamilton - their most dramatic moments to date

21 Nov 2016

As Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton head to Abu Dhabi for what promises to be a thrilling title showdown, we take a chronological look back at the most explosive moments of the Mercedes duo's already legendary rivalry...

Getting hot under the collar - Malaysia 2013

Just two races into their partnership at Mercedes, and we were given a taste of the tensions to come as long-time team member Nico Rosberg was told to hold station behind newcomer Lewis Hamilton, despite the German’s superior pace in the latter stages of the race. Hamilton duly collected his first Silver Arrow podium with third.

Racing on a knife's edge - Bahrain 2014

With their car the clear class of the new, turbo-hybrid field, Hamilton and Rosberg were left to fight it out between themselves in Bahrain, with the Briton eventually triumphing in a pulsating back-and-forth duel which stayed just the right side of clean, fair and amicable - something that couldn’t always be said in the future…

Team orders strike a bum note - Hungary 2014

With it looking increasingly likely by mid-season that one or other of Hamilton or Rosberg would win the title, tensions ramped up another notch in Hungary as Hamilton steadfastly refused to potentially compromise his own race by letting his team mate - running an alternative strategy - past. Battle lines drawn, Hamilton then held off a charging Rosberg for third. 

Matters come to a head - Belgium 2014

Mercedes’ ‘worst case scenario’ presented itself in Belgium as Rosberg collided with Hamilton while disputing the lead, dashing the team’s hopes of victory and plunging their ‘our drivers are free to race’ philosophy into doubt. Clear-the-air talks and a Rosberg apology followed, as well as the now infamous promise from Toto Wolff that contact between their drivers “cannot - and will not - happen again." 

Hamilton pressures Rosberg into error - Italy 2014

Forced into the position of hunter after falling 29-points behind Rosberg in the championship, Hamilton recovered superbly from a poor start to race back onto his team mate’s tail and pressure him into a crucial mistake. It would prove a defining moment, with the Briton's victory sparking a five-race, championship-defining win streak. 

Rosberg powerless to keep Hamilton at bay - USA 2014

Having overhauled Rosberg in the drivers’ standings, Hamilton underlines his authority with a commanding victory in the USA during which he overhauls the German’s early advantage before dramatically passing him for the lead. Victory moves the Briton within site of a second world title.

Hamilton comes out on top in nail-biting title decider - Abu Dhabi 2014

With the destination of the world championship still hanging in the balance by virtue of the double points on offer at the Abu Dhabi season finale, Rosberg snatched pole to put Hamilton under pressure. But in the race the Briton was untouchable, beating his team mate into Turn 1 before racing to victory as Rosberg struggled home 14th with severe technical gremlins. 

Accusations fly after Hamilton 'go slow' - China 2015

Thrust straight back into another title fight, but this time with the added frisson of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel nipping at their heels, tensions threatened to overflow once more in Shanghai as an unhappy Rosberg accused race winner Hamilton of driving 'unnecessarily' slowly and backing him into Vettel’s clutches. Hamilton was unmoved.

Hamilton points finger at Rosberg - Hungary 2015

In a hugely disappointing race for Mercedes, Hamilton made a poor start from pole before compromising his chances further by going off midway around the first lap while challenging Rosberg. However, his immediate assertion that ‘Nico pushed me off’ by moving under braking was rejected by the stewards, with the Briton later accepting he'd simply had "a bad day at the office."

Hamilton's squeeze doesn't please Rosberg - Japan 2015

Hamilton took a big stride towards a third world title after a dominant victory in Suzuka - but only after a controversial moment with Rosberg at Turn 1. Having made a great start from P2, Hamilton took advantage of his inside line through the first two corners to squeeze his team mate uncompromisingly towards the edge of the track. Rosberg later admitted he had to avoid a collision, while Hamilton countered that it was never that close. 

Going toe-to-toe in Austin - USA 2015

Rosberg and Hamilton locked horns in spectacular fashion in Texas, with the German attempting to stop his team mate from clinching a third title. Despite being pushed unceremoniously wide once again at the first corner, Rosberg fought his way to the front in changeable conditions before throwing away his chances of victory with an uncharacteristic error. The win, and another championship crown, were Hamilton’s.

'Title is better than a win' - Abu Dhabi 2015

Having lost out on the title once more, Rosberg ended the season on a high with victory in Abu Dhabi - his third win in as many races. But after the race tensions still seemed to bubble beneath the surface when the Silver Arrows duo were asked which of them would enter the winter the happier driver…

Mercedes suffer double the pain - Spain 2016

Mercedes were forced into another period of naval gazing as Hamilton, desperate for a win after a dreadful start to the season, spectacularly collided with Rosberg whilst disputing the lead on the opening lap in Spain. Opinions varied on who was to blame, with both drivers pointing the finger squarely at the other’s door, though Rosberg being in the wrong engine mode certainly played its part.

Drivers clash again - Austria 2016

For the second time in five races, Rosberg and Hamilton had a major coming-together - this time as the Briton attempted to take the lead on the last lap of the race. Hamilton, who had led until a slow pit stop dropped him back, survived the contact to take victory, but Rosberg could only drag his damaged car home in fourth. To add to his misery, the stewards then found him wholly responsible for the crash.

More drama in Abu Dhabi?

For the first time since they've been paired together, Rosberg is the man with his nose in front going into a title-deciding race. If he finishes on the podium, a first drivers' crown is his, regardless of where Hamilton finishes. For Hamilton the mission will simply be to win and hope Rosberg doesn't do enough. Whatever happens, another chapter in their compelling combined history will be written on Sunday...