ABU DHABI: Nico Rosberg starts Sunday’s season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with the Formula One world title he covets so keenly tantalizingly within his grasp.
Rosberg has had to sit and suffer as his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton ran off with the drivers crown in 2014 and 2015.
But after an explosive 2016 season played out over a record 21 races Rosberg is now so close to the F1 holy grail he can see his image reflected on the trophy.
Hamilton has rattled off wins in the last three races in the United States, Mexico and Brazil to ensure the title goes down to the last throw of the dice at Abu Dhabi’s glittering Yas Marina circuit.
With a 12-point cushion the task facing Rosberg, whose father Keke won the title in 1982, is clear.
As long as he finishes in the top three the drivers’ crown is his irrespective of Hamilton’s performance.
He starts on the front row alongside pole sitter Hamilton who bossed final qualifying on Saturday.
As he has done all season Rosberg is playing his cards close to his chest, refusing to get carried away by talk of his maiden world championship.
“I want to try to win the race. Keep it simple. I don’t think of ‘what if’ – that would be the wrong approach,” he said.
For Hamilton, whose roller-coaster season has been marred by some desperate bad luck, he will need the F1 gods to be in a particularly malevolent mood towards his rival if he is to join the exclusive club of drivers who have won four titles.