Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Duel in the desert

Published:Sunday | November 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany (right) waves to spectators while flanked by his teammate, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, after the qualifying session at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi yesterday.-AP

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes spotlight

André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

With the sun setting on the 2014 Formula 1 season with today's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the sport's powerbrokers and fans are getting the season they wanted - a title fight that goes until the last lap; a duel in the desert.

For the folks at the Mercedes Petronas team, it gets even better. Not only did they win their first Constructors' title a few weeks ago and witness their PU106A Hybrid engine dominate the circuit, but Silver Arrows drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are the only two who can still win the Drivers' Championship.

The pair have led a gripping, season-long duel that, at times, has brought as much Sylvester Stallone-type action as it has daytime soap opera-esque drama. Brit Hamilton holds the advantage in the title race, with 334 points, 17 more than his German teammate, with double points on offer in the Emirates capital.

Rosberg, who took the checkered flag at the last F1 stop in Sao Paulo, Brazil, ahead of his teammate for his fifth and Mercedes' 15th win of the season, has taken that momentum into this weekend's action, comfortably taking pole position by almost 0.4 seconds.

There are several permutations, but his best chance of winning requires him to cross the line in front today and hope that Hamilton finishes third or worse.

As good as this season has been, Mercedes chiefs are already looking forward to next year and even greater success.

"The season has been very successful, we have won 14 races up until now and secured the Drivers' Championship because there is no other driver other than a Mercedes driver that can become champion," said team chief Toto Wolff ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix a fortnight ago. "We won the Constructor title, which is the first ever for the company, and we love it, but we are flat out already for next year."

Good for the Brand

For Rogerio Montagner, Formula 1 aficionado and product manager of Daimler Latina, Mercedes' strong season and overall return to F1 has not only underlined the company's continued pursuit of excellence, but it has also served the brand well from a consumer perspective.

"When you win races, you sell more cars," Montagner said. "If you look at racing history, you will see this in a lot of brands and this is not different for us. When you talk about a Mercedes Benz car, you expect a lot of things, and for sure, for regular people like us, it will be a proud moment to have a car that has also been successful on the track, even if it has just one per cent of the Formula 1 development.

"When we decided to come back to Formula 1 after more than 50 years away from the sport, we had a clear plan of where we want to go, our goals and what kind of things we expected from Formula 1," said Montagner. "Now in 2014, I think that all the success and the results on the race track have come about because of this detailed planning and effort; the clear picture that we created for ourselves."

"When you talk about Formula 1, hard work is rewarded; this is the result of good planning and hard work. We had to get everything in the right balance, we needed the right drivers, right moments, with good engines, oils, sponsors, suppliers," added Montagner.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix gets under way today at 8 a.m. (Ja time).

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