Belfast Telegraph

Lewis Hamilton not feeling under pressure from Formula One title climax

By Ian Parkes

It was a clearly hesitant Lewis Hamilton that shook the outstretched hand of Formula One title rival Nico Rosberg to signal the start of this weekend's countdown towards either championship ecstasy or agony. Ahead of the final drivers' press conference of the year, the Mercedes team-mates were asked to take centre stage for a minute for the assembled photographers.

Rosberg was the first to extend his hand, with Hamilton pausing for a few moments before reaching out in reply, gripping tightly.

As olive branches go, with Rosberg appearing to smile warmly but with Hamilton playing it more straight-faced, it was an uneasy truce ahead of battle commencing this weekend in Abu Dhabi.

Holding a 17-point lead, Hamilton has the advantage, insisting that "in terms of the pressure, I don't feel any".

Hamilton added: "I've had plenty of experience through my racing career to be prepared."

Of the two, though, it was Rosberg who came across as the more relaxed, joining in with the banter that unfolded at times with Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button.

Vettel will replace Alonso at Ferrari and the Spaniard may in turn take Button's seat at McLaren for next year but good humour prevailed.

Arguably there is less pressure on Rosberg than Hamilton, even though the double points on offer for this race aid his cause more than would ordinarily have been the case.

First and foremost, the 29-year-old German has to finish ahead of Hamilton, and beyond that he needs a helping hand. A Rosberg victory, for instance, means Hamilton has to finish third or worse.

Assessing his chances, Rosberg said: "Lewis is a great competitor and opponent, and it will hopefully be a great end to the season.

"I'm here to try and win the race, and then I need a bit of help from Lewis that he doesn't finish second. So I'm hoping Lewis can come up with something."

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