Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview

For the second time in three years the Formula 1 World Championship will be decided at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.

In 2014 it was Lewis Hamilton who won the race and championship after a mechanical problem forced Nico Rosberg to finish in 14th position.

The championship this season, as it has been for the past two, has been a battle between the two Mercedes drivers.

Hamilton has made a late-season charge winning the last three races, but the odds are still in Rosberg's favour as they head into the finale.

1. It's Rosberg's title to lose

In reality all the pressure is on Hamilton. The 31-year-old Briton can dominate the entire weekend, but he will need help if he is to win the World Championship for a fourth time.

"It's not been a perfect season and I'm faced with pretty impossible odds no matter what I do this weekend," Hamilton told the official Mercedes website. "But I can't and won't give up. You never know what might happen - however unlikely it may seem."

Unlike the 2014 showdown Rosberg has the advantage in the form of a 12-point lead over his teammate. Even if Hamilton wins the race it is not guaranteed that he will win the championship.

Should Hamilton win on Sunday, then Rosberg needs only to finish in third in order to claim his first World Championship.

"It feels great to be in the World Championship battle with Lewis for a third year in a row," Rosberg said in a statement. "I will give everything to finish the season with a win." 

2. Decide it on the track

The entire Mercedes team is under pressure to ensure that the battle between their drivers is decided on the track. 

In the wake of the mechanical problem that hindered Nico Rosberg in the 2014 championship decider, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff and Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda both stated that the main focus is make certain that neither driver fall victim to mechanical problems during the race.

"After a battle of such endurance, the winner can say without a doubt that they earned it," said Wolff as quoted on ESPNF1.com. "We are all excited to see who that will be. May the best man win."

Speaking at the Brazilian Grand Prix two weeks ago, Hamilton said that in the battle for the championship he expects nothing less than a fair fight from teammate Rosberg.

But, of course, we have seen plenty of nasty incidents between these two drivers over the years.

At Spa Francorchamps in 2014 the pair famously collided on Lap 2 at Les Combes, damaging both cars in the process. Hamilton was ultimately forced to retire shortly before the end of the race while Rosberg went on to finish second behind Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo. 

Ultimately Mercedes placed the blame for the accident on Rosberg and it became a major turning point in the season. After Spa Hamilton then won six of the final seven races and went on to win his second World Championship.

This year we have seen several instances of no-holds barred racing between the pair. At the Spanish Grand Prix in May they collided on the first lap and crashed into the gravel trap. Then on the last lap at the Austrian Grand Prix Rosberg channelled his inner Schumacher and pushed Hamilton wide into Turn 3. The collision damaged Rosberg's front wing and he limped home to fourth place while Hamilton celebrated the win.

Hamilton has done well to close the gap to Rosberg over the past several races. However, Rosberg's narrow lead in the championship means that he can afford to follow Hamilton around Yas Marina and not have to push himself, or the car, more than necessary.

3. The best of the rest

If you haven't been driving a Mercedes or a Red Bull this year then your chances of winning a race have been pretty slim.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have won nine races each, and the remaining two have been won by Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen respectively.

Ferrari, who before the start of the season were considered to be a legitimate threat to Mercedes, have underwhelmed and underperformed all year long.

Abu Dhabi has been Mercedes' race the past two years with Hamilton and Rosberg splitting the honours in 2014 and 2015. Based on the results we have seen this season it is logical to expect to see a Mercedes driver on the top step of the podium once more on Sunday.

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