Hamilton rejects "back-up" strategy talk
Hamilton rejects 'back-up' strategy for Red Bull drivers to pass Rosberg to boost title hopes
Lewis Hamilton made clear yesterday that he has no intention of trying to "back up" his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg if he is leading this weekend's title showdown Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The defending three-time world champion, who is seeking a fourth consecutive Grand Prix victory to keep alive his slim hope of overhauling Rosberg's 12-point lead, said instead that he will try to win the race by as big a margin as possible.
"Nico has been on pole here for the last two years," Hamilton told a pre-race news conference at the Yas Marina circuit yesterday.
"Here, he has been very quick. This has been a relatively strong circuit for me, but I've not been delivering the last two years, so my sole goal is to do so.
"In terms of tactics in the race, that has to come on Sunday, but that (backing up) has never been in my thought process.
"If I am ahead, I want to be as far ahead as possible.
"When you have an 18-30 second lead, that is as painful a blow as you can give to the guy you are fighting.
"If you look at the last race (in Brazil), with no red flag, I would be 30 seconds ahead... That is more of an achievement than backing up your teammate.
"While here it sounds like it makes sense, it is not very practical to do. You have two long DRS zones, it wouldn't be easy or wise to do so."
It had been widely thought that Hamilton would choose to "back up" the field behind him, if he was leading, to enhance the prospects for the Red Bull drivers to pass Rosberg.
Hamilton can win the title only if he wins the race and Rosberg does not finish on the podium - while Rosberg will claim his maiden title if he finishes in the top three.
Rosberg reiterated his recent and successful mantra that he is treating this race - the first in which he has started as the world championship favourite - like any other.
"I am just fully focused on winning this race and that is all," he said.
Meanwhile, former world champion Jenson Button announced yesterday that Sunday's season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be his last race in the sport.
The 36-year-old Briton, who has raced in more than 300 grands prix and won the 2009 world championship with Brawn, had already announced he will take up an ambassadorial role with his current team McLaren next year.
"I go into this weekend thinking it's my last race," Button said yesterday. "At this moment in time, I don't want to be racing in F1 beyond this race."
McLaren previously announced that highly-rated reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne will replace Button as Fernando Alonso's partner in 2017.
There is an option for Button to return to McLaren's race set-up in 2018, but that is thought to be an insurance policy in case Alonso leaves the British team.
"It is true that I have a contract in 2018 but, at this moment in time, I am not going to be racing in 2018," Button added.
"The whole point of this (contract) was, if in three months' time, I had eaten myself stupid and I changed my mind."
Button started his F1 career with Williams, lining up in his first race at the 2000 Australian Grand Prix.
Following a spell with Benetton, he joined BAR in 2004 and won his first race with the team, now renamed Honda, at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix.
After Ross Brawn took over at Honda and renamed the team, Button surged to glory in the 2009 world championship, with six early-season wins carrying him to victory above Sebastian Vettel.
He subsequently joined McLaren in 2010, finishing second in 2011, and has been with the British team ever since.
"It's been a long journey since eight years old until now," Button said. "Over 300 grands prix. I will definitely step away from F1 happy with what I've achieved and definitely my life starts now." - AFP.