Lewis Hamilton is expecting a fair fight with Nico Rosberg as the two championship rivals go head-to-head in today’s pivotal Brazilian Grand Prix.
Rosberg will be crowned Formula 1’s 33rd world champion this evening if Hamilton fails to prevent him from winning in Interlagos for a third consecutive year.
But Hamilton, 19 points behind his Mercedes team-mate in the title race, will start as the favourite to win and take the title tussle to the final round of the season after securing pole position in a nail-biting qualifying session yesterday.
Hamilton, who has never won at the birthplace of his boyhood idol Ayrton Senna, edged out Rosberg by just 0.102 seconds to seal the 60th pole of his career.
“I don’t go into the race expecting anything less than a fair fight,” said Hamilton, who is sporting a tribute crash helmet to Senna this weekend.
“Of course you can look at history and what some drivers have done in the past, but I would like to think higher of him [Rosberg] and that wouldn’t be something he would do. I need to make sure I am ahead.
“I don’t believe there is anything I can do [tactically]. I am sure you can try and be smart and screw yourself over, but I want to win because I am the best and not through tactics that I have done on the track.
“I am in this awkward position due to a lot of issues we have had this year and there is nothing I can do about that. I am happy with how the end of the season has been going and I have just got to keep pushing.”
The short run down to turn one will be crucial in the outcome of today’s race, as will be the unpredictable weather in Sao Paulo, with rain forecast to play a role at the penultimate round of F1’s longest season.
Hamilton is often a master of the inclement conditions while Rosberg has struggled in recent times.
Rosberg, 31, was ordered to move out of Hamilton’s way by his Mercedes team as he failed to get a grip of the wet weather in Monaco and finished only seventh. At Silverstone, Hamilton sauntered to victory while Rosberg spent much of the race battling with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. “You often want a wet race when you are further behind to give you the opportunity to get ahead,” Hamilton added.
“I am on pole, but behind on points, so it wouldn’t be so bad if it did rain. I feel prepared for either scenario, but I love driving in the wet and it makes it more of a lottery.”
Rosberg can afford to finish second and third at the final two races in Brazil and in Abu Dhabi later this month, but the German is gunning for victory and the title today. “I’m going to try and get Lewis into turn one, and that’s the plan,” Rosberg said. “Obviously it’s not going to be easy and the run to turn one is very short here so that doesn’t help, but I’ll definitely try everything I can.”
Kimi Raikkonen will line up third on the grid, with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen fourth. Jenson Button will start a disappointing 17th, with British rookie Jolyon Palmer one place ahead of him on the grid.