Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Decisive day looms for Hamilton and Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton, who started the year tipped to become Britain's first four times World Champion, goes into the season-ender 12 points adrift.

Nico Rosberg is the favourite to win the 'Duel in the Desert', needing only to finish on the Yas Marina podium to become Germany's third World Champion after Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, but he will still be on tenterhooks with Lewis Hamilton chasing him close behind.   -  Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton is facing "pretty impossible odds" going into the Formula One title-decider in Abu Dhabi. On the other hand, Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate — chasing his maiden title — Nico Rosberg expressed that he will treat season's final race like any other. While, Hamilton knows he still has a real chance and Rosberg is well aware just how much is at stake.

> Formula 1 2016: Driver Standings and Race Details

Rosberg is the favourite to win the 'Duel in the Desert', needing only to finish on the Yas Marina podium to become Germany's third World Champion after Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, but he will still be on tenterhooks.

"I will give it everything to end the season with a win," said Rosberg.

For Rosberg, this would represent a maiden world title after 11 seasons in F1. It would also be only the second time a father-son duo have won the drivers' championship, following in father Keke's footsteps to join Graham and Damon Hill in achieving that feat.

"I've had a great week, relaxing and catching up with my family and friends, so I feel like I'm in a good place. In Brazil ... I was joking that I would still be taking things one race at a time. But, the more I think about it, the more that's actually not as crazy as it sounds. I have to treat this like any other race."

That has become Rosberg's mantra, his increasingly-implausible mechanism for dealing with the pressure as the title talk grows louder. That stress will be greater than ever on Sunday, a lifetime's ambition within reach after years of being beaten by Hamilton. How he handles it in the day-to-night race could be crucial.

'IMPOSSIBLE ODDS'

Hamilton, who started the year tipped to become Britain's first four times World Champion but goes into the season-ender 12 points adrift, has less pressure. He must finish in the top three to have any hope but, in his mind, has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Hamilton currently shares the record for most drivers' titles won by a British driver with Jackie Stewart. He would also become only the fourth driver to win three or more championships in succession.

"I'm faced with pretty impossible odds no matter what I do this weekend. But I can't and won't give up. You never know what might happen, however unlikely it may seem," said the reigning champion.

In fact four of Hamilton's nine wins this season (Monaco, Canada, Austria and Germany) came with Rosberg off the podium — a result that if repeated for a fifth time in 21 races on Sunday would hand him the title. Not quite the impossible odds he suggested.

Hamilton, who has won the last three races and could end the year with more wins than Rosberg (nine each at present), knows only too well that a mechanical failure or first corner collision can change everything in an instant.

ABU DHABI TRACK RECORD

At Abu Dhabi in 2014, Hamilton won both race and title while Rosberg started on pole but had a power unit problem and finished out of the points.

But it was Rosberg who won here last season – a victory that formed part of a seven-race winning sequence that ran into 2016 and laid the foundation for his title push.

Form guide

This season has swayed one way and then the other so far – unfortunately for Rosberg, it is Hamilton who is on a hot streak, winning the last three races.

That said, Rosberg has finished second to the Briton in each of those and has not missed out on the podium since his home grand prix in Germany in July.

A continuation of that run for Rosberg in Abu Dhabi would see him crowned champion.

We've been here before

The Formula One season has boiled down to a decider between Hamilton and Rosberg once before, although the circumstances were slightly different in 2014.

Hamilton held a 17-point lead heading to the United Arab Emirates two years ago, when double points were on offer at the final race of the season.

The former McLaren man needed to finish in the top two to clinch a second title – sixth would have sufficed under normal rules – and Hamilton avoided the problems that plagued Rosberg to top the podium, ahead of the two Williams.

Rosberg crossed the line in 14th and will be keen to avoid similar engine trouble this weekend.

Competitions from other drivers

There is also the prospect of rivals — and particularly the Red Bull pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen — getting in among the title contenders.

Verstappen in particular showed in Brazil, with a superlative drive through the field to third in the closing laps and wet conditions, that he is no respecter of reputations, nor is he afraid to get stuck in.

Further back, Williams's Brazilian Felipe Massa will be bowing out after his 250th race start in what also looks likely to be a farewell for 2009 world champ Jenson Button at McLaren.

"It's going to be another emotional one," said former Ferrari driver Massa. "I really hope the final, and 250th race of my Formula One career, can be a fantastic one. We will of course have a big party. Hopefully we can celebrate with a great result."