THREAT MANAGEMENT? Lewis Hamilton (left) celebrates second in the 2014 Brazilian F1 GP with Williams' Felipe Massa - the very man Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg wants to help him win the Drivers' title. Image: AFP / Vanderlei Almeida
SAO PAULO, Brazil -With only the 'Abu Dhabi Double' showdown to run, Nico Rosberg nibbled back into title rival Lewis Hamilton's now 17-point lead in the 2014 Drivers' championship with victory in Brazil on Sunday (Nov 9).
Championship leader and title favourite Hamilton, referring to his spin, said: "Obviously I had a big mistake in the mid-part of the race." Rosberg, however, who started from pole, insisted that he felt in control of his team mate right through the race.
Whatever, he looked slightly glum on the podium. "No, I'm happy. Very happy," he insisted. He also acknowledged that, having failed to stop Hamilton's winning streak a week earlier in Austin, the championship was no longer under his control because even if he wins in Abu Dhabi and earns double points on November 23 Hamilton just needs to be second to take the title.
ROOTIN' FOR MASSA
Rosberg, then, is rooting for Williams' on-form Felipe Massa, third in Brazil on Sunday. If he splits the Mercedes pair on the podium in Abu Dhabi Rosberg will take the silverware. "He's the man," Rosberg grinned, pointing to Massa. "I need some Felipe Massa help."
Later he explained: "Lewis must not finish second in Abu Dhabi. He has to finish no higher than P3. I need to motivate Felipe to relax well before Abu Dhabi and have a stunning weekend to finish second!"
Hamilton, however, indicated that although he always pushes to win races he knows how to tackle the decisive race of the 2014 season. "The situation is quite different to my first title in 2008, but I know how to win," he was quoted as saying by German newspaper Bild. "I don't need to risk as much as before so, if I find myself in a situation where there is a lot of risk, my experience will come into it."
That doesn't sound like a "win at all costs" approach to Abu Dhabi and that could be because the highly controversial "double points" situation threatens to eat up Hamilton's big lead with something like a mechanical breakdown. Even the architect of the scheme, Bernie Ecclestone, admitted in Brazil that he never envisaged his double points plan "would come to this sort of situation".
Hamilton departed Brazil with the message that the system was unfair. Mercedes' Toto Wolff was quoted by Auto Motor and Sport as saying: "If it (reliability) wipes one of them (Hamilton or Rosberg) out, it will put a big shadow over the championship. Nobody likes the double points. We should talk about it and maybe get rid of it for 2015.
"Every part on the cars in Abu Dhabi will be double checked," Wolff promised. "We will use all low-mileage parts."
Wolff also admitted he remained worried that Hamilton and Rosberg would collide in Abu Dhabi, even though the venom appears to have disappeared from their relationship in recent weeks. Wolff disputed that: it seems Hamilton did not attend a team dinner on Saturday night while Rosberg did, but Wolff insisted that each driver still had full access to each others' technical information.
"The atmosphere in the team is intense," he revealed. "They didn't talk to each other here (in Brazil) but that's OK. The championship is in the decisive phase and in the team we can really feel that."Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.