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Mercedes boss won’t ‘interfere’ in title race finale

Rosberg and Hamilton shake hands

Coverage of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live on BBC Radio 5 live from 13:00 GMT

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says he expects Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to have a clean fight for the title in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Rosberg, who starts second to his team-mate, leads by 12 points and needs only to finish in the top three to be champion.

Wolff said: “We can’t interfere in the last race. There is a lot at stake.

“As long as they’re not overstepping the mark in terms of what we see as sportsmanlike, we need to let them go.”

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F1 titles have been decided by unsportsmanlike driving on a number of occasions – most notoriously in the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix when Ayrton Senna deliberately crashed into rival Alain Prost and in the 1997 European Grand Prix when Michael Schumacher failed in an attempt to take out Jacques Villeneuve.

Wolff said: “The drivers are great sportsmen and know that overstepping the line would cause a lot of controversy. I have trust that it is going to go well for the benefit of the team and the effort that has been given and the fans.”

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Hamilton v Rosberg – F1 world title preview

Hamilton said his performance in taking a stunning pole position by 0.303 seconds had been “as good” as any this year.

He was faster than Rosberg in every practice and qualifying session over the weekend but denied he had been out to prove a point after a season in which reliability has affected him more than the German.

“The idea is to get pole and that speaks for itself,” Hamilton said.

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Winning will not be enough for Hamilton to retain his world title – he has to do so and hope the German is fourth or lower.

Hamilton said earlier in the weekend that he would not drive deliberately slowly in order to try to bring rivals Ferrari and Red Bull into the competition between the two drivers.

On Saturday evening, he said he had not yet thought about his tactics in the race, but added that he would “drive my heart out – as I do every single race”.

Rosberg, who admitted Hamilton’s pace in qualifying was out of his reach, said: “It is going to be a good battle out there. For sure, I am going to give him a run for his money and try to get the win. It won’t be easy, of course.”

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This was Hamilton’s fourth consecutive pole position and the 61st of his career

He rejected suggestions that he would just cruise around in second place to guarantee winning the title.

“In my mind, I am going to go for the win even if I am not in that position at some point in the race. Why shouldn’t I? I want to finish the season on a high with a win.”

This was Hamilton’s 12th pole this season compared to Rosberg’s eight. While they have nine wins each so far, Hamilton’s year has been more heavily affected by reliability problems – including three engine failures while Rosberg has had none in competition.

But Wolff dismissed the idea that Hamilton’s worse reliability meant Rosberg would somehow be a less deserving champion.

He said: “This team has given the drivers the best car in the last three years, a car that has won them races and championships.

“This is something the drivers honour and something that anybody else who believes themselves to be a fan should honour.

“This year, particularly traumatising is Malaysia, where Lewis was in the lead and the engine went. This is something that came out of nowhere, and something that is very much part of us but it is what it is.

“It is a mechanical sport and that can happen. The one who has the most points tomorrow is a worthy world champion for me.”

Hamilton said: “I came here to drive like I have done and if I performed at my best in the last races of the season, I could walk away proud.

“I have had other things coming my way but I have managed to battle through adversity and I am really proud of it.”

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Rosberg only has to finish in the top three to secure his first world championship title

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Mercedes will be hoping Rosberg and Hamilton have a good, clean fight – unlike championship rivals Senna and Prost in the 1990 Japanese GP

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/38117597