This weekend Formula 1 will crown a new champion…or will they crown a champion again? As Mercedes AMG Petronas head toward the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this Sunday, they do so with two drivers fighting for the world championship in the forms of current points leader, Nico Rosberg, and defending champion Lewis Hamilton.
Rosberg carries a 12-point lead into this weekend and the points-paying positions are 25 points for a win, 18 for second place, 15 for third, 12 for fourth, 10 for fifth, eight for sixth, six for seventh, four for eighth, two for ninth and one for 10th. There is a lot to play for but in the end, Lewis must be shooting for victory to have any hope of wresting the title away from Nico but that’s a very real possibility as reliability issues on old power units could play a role or even the resurgent Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen have been splitting the Mercedes duo of late and even banging wheels with Rosberg.
If Lewis Hamilton does not win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Rosberg can finish sixth or higher and claim the title. Seventh or eighth will still be enough for Nico is Hamilton does not finish second or better.
The fact that Mercedes have had such a dominant season with 1, 2 finishes, it seems unlikely but not impossible that Nico would finish off the podium even if Lewis won but again, anything can happen in F1.
If Lewis is not in the top three, Nico can finish 9th or 10th and still claim the title so it seems relatively clear that Lewis needs to win and he also needs Nico to finish off the podium.
There are also possibilities for a tie if Rosberg finishes seventh and Hamilton second and should that happen, they would be tied on wins and second place finishes so the title would go to Lewis on a countback of third place finishes. If Lewis finishes third and Nico doesn’t finish in the top eight, the title would go to Nico on countbacks for second place finishes.
Ultimately it has been mechanical failures that have hobbled Hamilton’s defense of his 2015 title and that could play a role on Sunday for either Lewis or Nico as both are on used engines. There is also the issue of the dogged determination of Red Bull to hound the Mercedes duo for race wins and that could play a pivotal role should they finish ahead of either Rosberg or Hamilton or have a dodgy collision with either.
Let’s put it this way, Lewis needs to win and Nico needs to finish on the podium and given their performance this season, barring any mechanical failures or attrition, this seems very doable for the German to secure his very first world championship.