Lewis Hamilton heads into finale of the Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi with a seventeen point cushion in the World Drivers’ Championship over his Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team-mate Nico Rosberg, but with double points on offer in the desert, he is taking nothing for granted as he aims for his second drivers’ title.
Despite missing out on the victory in Brazil to Rosberg, Hamilton admitted it was a good result for the Mercedes team, with their record-breaking eleventh one-two finish, beating the record of the McLaren-Honda team back in 1988.
“Brazil was a great weekend for the team,” said Hamilton. “Of course, it didn’t go exactly to plan for me but second place in the circumstances was a good recovery and it was a great moment to get a record-breaking one-two finish for all the people who have worked so hard to give us this amazing car.
“I really felt like I connected with the fans in São Paulo and their support was just incredible – I still can’t get over it now. That really inspires me heading into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.”
Hamilton feels he has grown as a person and as a driver since his World Championship triumph back in 2008, and feels like he is challenging for his first title all over again this year.
“People talk about how long it’s been since I won the title – but I honestly feel like I’m fighting for my first World Championship all over again,” insisted Hamilton. “Sure, I’m older and maybe a little bit wiser than I was back then. I’ve learnt a lot in the years since 2008 – but I’m still the same driver.
“I still have the same hunger, the same will to win, and I’ve been giving it everything I’ve got from the word go this season. I’ve had ups and downs along the way – but I’ve never once given up. I’ve managed to fight my way back from whatever has come my way and my approach doesn’t change for this race.”
The Briton feels he has a good record in Abu Dhabi, and won the event back in 2011 whilst driving for McLaren. He also excels in qualifying; he has taken two pole positions and two other front row starts in the five Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to date. He has had his share of misfortune there too; he has retired twice at the circuit in 2009 and 2012, and is hoping reliability does not cost him the chance of the title.
“I’ve got a good record at the Abu Dhabi circuit,” reflected Hamilton. “Last year was actually the only time I’ve not started on the front row or finished on the podium. But I’ve also had some misfortune there over the years – particularly in 2012.
“I’m hoping that bad luck won’t play a part this time around and I know that the team has been working flat out to make sure it doesn’t. I’m feeling relaxed, I’m feeling confident and I’m ready to win.”
Hamilton admits he does not feel comfortable heading into Abu Dhabi despite having a seventeen point lead over Rosberg, especially with double points set to come into play, but intends to go there with the aim of winning the race.
“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,” said Hamilton. “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.”