Abu Dhabi: Lewis Hamilton wants to bring Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg’s winning run to a halt and finish his triple-championship year on a high at this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 30-year-old Briton, whose form and focus have drifted since he clinched his third drivers’ title triumph at last month’s United States Grand Prix, says he wants to thank his fans for their support with another triumph at the Yas Marina circuit.
He secured his second title and first with Mercedes at the Abu Dhabi track last year in a tense showdown with his German team-mate, who was hit by mechanical problems.
This year, however, he arrives in a much more relaxed mood and is keen to stop Rosberg completing a hat-trick, and taking the momentum into 2016.
“Last year, this place brought probably the most intense weekend of my life,” said Hamilton. “I didn’t sleep much through nerves and not knowing what was ahead, but this time around there’s no pressure so I’ll be well-rested and aiming to go out on a high.
“I really enjoy driving here. It’s a challenging circuit. There are a couple of high-speed corners, but it’s mostly medium to low speed, so despite the long straights you need to set the car up with a down-force level tuned for low speed grip.
“It’s also a twilight race, starting late afternoon and running into the night, which is quite unusual and, I imagine, must be pretty cool to watch on TV.
“A lot of British fans come out too so it’s like another home crowd for me and to win and show how grateful I am for the fantastic support I’ve had would be the best way to end an incredible season.”
Rosberg, who clinched the runners-up spot in the championship by winning in Mexico and Brazil, will seek his sixth consecutive pole position and another win as he bids to maintain his late-season ascendancy over Hamilton.
“Abu Dhabi hasn’t always been an easy one for me,” he said. “Last year was probably my biggest disappointment, but I showed my speed with pole position and I have good momentum right now.
“I’m aiming to end the season on a big positive this time around. I know it will be close with Lewis and it won’t be straightforward, but I’m up for a battle and hopefully we can put on a great show for the fans to end the year.”
The Mercedes men both expect a tough challenge from Ferrari and Williams at an event likely to be shrouded in doubts about the future shape of F1 after proposals for a cheaper alternative engine supply were rejected, as expected, by the ruling body’s Formula 1 Commission.
The International Motoring Federation (FIA) confirmed on Wednesday that the Commission had voted not to pursue the budget engine idea, as proposed by commercial ring-master Bernie Ecclestone.
Instead, the existing manufacturers have agreed to submit a proposal, that replaces the need for a budget engine supply, by January 15. Meetings are planned in Abu Dhabi.
“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage,” said the FIA. “However, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group.”
The unresolved ongoing engines saga has left the Red Bull and Toro Rosso teams without confirmed power-units for next season and in danger of leaving F1.
Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz this week confirmed “we still don’t know if we will get an engine and what else is planned for the future… At some point, even we’ve had enough.”