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In their own words: Rosberg and Hamilton on the Abu Dhabi showdown

26 Nov 2016

After 20 tense - and sometimes fraught - races, the outcome of the 2016 championship will be settled in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Lewis Hamilton may have pole, but Nico Rosberg has the points advantage and therefore remains the favourite. With their showdown looming large, we sat down with this year's champion elects...

Nico Rosberg

Q: Nico, Lewis has said that with the way he is driving right now, he is doing enough to merit being world champion. What do you make of that?

Nico Rosberg: If he said that, that’s ok for me. I am concentrating on my own thing – and that is what I will do tomorrow! I don’t get into the ‘what if’ kind of speculation, because you will never find answers there! I will do my best possible tomorrow. I will continue with the same racing approach that got me to where I am right now. It served me very well. Racing against Lewis for the title in the very last race – that is awesome! A fantastic situation to be in so I am really hot for tomorrow’s race. I want a good battle out there – and I am looking for a win. It will be difficult strategy wise with the tyres, but the race start always holds opportunities! (Laughs)

Q: What did qualifying tell you? Were there obvious places you lost time to Hamilton?

NR: I think I did a good lap – it is just that Lewis did a very good job! My lap was decent, but I wasn’t able to do his time today. But that was today – and tomorrow is a whole different matter.

Q: Even if you are not able to vault your team mate, finishing in P2 will be enough for you to win the title. Do you really want to sell us that you will risk everything to win – with the potential to retire?

NR: In my mind I want to win, for sure. But then of course in the race you have to blend reality in. Yes, I want to finish the season on a high – but I also see how much is at stake! At one point the brain always takes over the emotions – and I want to see the chequered flag!

Q: How will you approach this evening – the night before the big showdown?

NR: This is part of the secret that I try to keep it as every other race weekend of the season. Everything will be the same – that helps me stay focused. My family is here, some friends too, so it will be an easy evening with some good laughs.

Q: Max Verstappen has given some drivers a pretty hard time in the last couple of races. He is starting further back tomorrow, but is always a force to be reckoned with. Is he – or anyone else – on your mind?

NR: That is nothing that came to my mind! I will be firing on all cylinders trying to win this race. And it’s not the guys that are behind that potentially worry me – it‘s the guy in front!

Q: What does Red Bull’s alternate strategy, starting on the supersoft tyre, mean for you tomorrow?

NR: Nothing, because our strategy is the best!

Q: How about your crew in the garage. Has the excitement level gone up significantly, or are they all as relaxed as you seem to be?

NR: All is calm and peaceful! It’s the outside that seems to be over-excited! (Laughs)

Q: Your 'one step at a time’ approach got you into this position. Is that because you’ve been concentrating on your own strengths – and not trying to out-do Hamilton?

NR: I always love to push myself and get better in my own way. And it served me well. You can only be really successful when you stay authentic and not try to be a better somebody else, because then you always walk in somebody else’s footprints – and that means you stay a follower and not a winner.

Q: Is it a special sensation to go into a race knowing you can be a world champion at the chequered flag?

NR: Special sensation? Right now no – but maybe I will answer differently tomorrow after the race! (Laughs)

Q: Winning the championship tomorrow would make you and your father Keke the second father-son F1 champions. But your dad is not here…

NR: He enjoys his setting at home with his several monitors – to get every millisecond of the race. And I understand that!

Q: Will you shake Lewis’s hand before the race?

NR: There are too many details! But in a nutshell I have lots of respect for him. We both have an incredible season behind us and I have to admit that it was always a pleasure beating him because he is a real benchmark. And he respects me as well – and that is what we have as a base.

Lewis Hamilton

Q: Lewis, an amazing performance in qualifying today – and a sizeable gap to your team mate as a result. Was that a perfect warm up for tomorrow?

Lewis Hamilton: Ha, I hope. Well, usually when you go into qualifying you make a mistake here, lose a bit of time there... but today every single lap was better than the previous! And as it is the last qualifying of the year you really have to deliver. (Laughs) To have a session like today is an amazing thrill!

Q: How much did you want pole position today?

LH: You go into every qualifying wanting pole! And normally in qualifying at a certain point I go to a certain engine map setting, but today I felt so comfortable that I didn’t feel the need to do that. And in doing so I saved about a lap on the engine too!

Q: How important is it to stick to a certain routine on a Saturday before a race – and how much more important is that this evening?

LH: To stick to routine is not important at all for me. Sometimes you have commitments and sometimes you have room service. I take it as it comes. This weekend my mum is here – and a couple of real friends too, so we will go out tonight and have a good time!

Q: Nico (Rosberg) said that he wants to fight for the win. He wants everything but a boring race. Do you believe that?

LH: I don’t know. I am focusing on doing my job - and I am aware of what a job that is!

Q: Have you allowed yourself time to contemplate how tomorrow unfolds yet?

LH: No. I take it one step at a time. I was determined to get pole today – but I didn’t think further than that. Now that is achieved all my focus will go to what I am going to do tomorrow! Now I will work with my strategists and my engineers and have a look at the data from previous races.

Q: You mentioned your mum is here - what does that mean for you?

LH: My mum is my best friend! It is fantastic that she is here. I always felt that there is pure unconditional love – and that is great!

Q: How much more mental strength do you need for a race that determined the outcome of an entire season?

LH: It depends. For example Nico tries to approach this race as he has approached any other single race of the year, which tells you a lot of his process. Me, I have to say I was not thinking so much about outcomes as I was on being at my best every single time I was in the car. Now I am happy that I am back in that good spot after all those engine issues! And regarding tomorrow: I will drive my heart out like I have done every single race.

Q: The practice starts you have done this weekend have been from pole. Does that give you any extra confidence?

LH: Yep, all my practice starts were from pole. I was planning to start from there - there was no preparation whatsoever in case I got second! And we’ve got a lot of good information from these starts, so we are as well prepared as we can be!

Q: Nico said that as his approach is race by race he could go on and on. What about you: are you happy that that end of the season is just around the corner?

LH: I do feel super fit and relaxed in the car – and probably I could go on and do more races – but I am also keen to go skiing. So I am glad that it is over tomorrow. And I also think that everybody in the team is happy to go back to their families.