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Hamilton rejects idea of backing up Rosberg in Abu Dhabi GP

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Lewis Hamilton at the drivers’ press conference ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on November 24, 2016 © AFP/File / Andrej Isakovic

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Nov 24 – Lewis Hamilton made clear Thursday that he has no intention of trying to ‘back up’ his Mercedes team-mate 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-points 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 on Thursday.

“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 seconds’ 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 team-mate.

Nico Rosberg says “I am fully focussed on winning this race and that is all” © AFP / Andrej Isakovic

“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 only win the title 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 focussed on winning this race and that is all,” he said.

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