Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff fears a "personal nightmare" in Abu Dhabi on Sunday should Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One world title dream be blown apart by a mechanical failure.
The showdown the sport has been crying out for in light of the recent cost crisis that has overshadowed on-track events is poised to unfold over the next few days at the Yas Marina circuit.
After 18 grands prix, 17 points separate Hamilton from Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg ahead of ‘The Duel in the Desert’.
Contentiously, and for the first time in F1 history, double points are on offer to the top 10, affording Rosberg greater opportunity to take the championship.
Victory for Rosberg, with Hamilton third or worse, will see him claim a crown won by father Keke in 1982.
If the current system continued into the closing race, Hamilton could have afforded to have finished at worst sixth behind a Rosberg win.
It is why Wolff is praying no trouble befalls either man and it is a clean fight to the finishing line.
“Clearly, Lewis breaking down would have a massive impact on his championship attempt,” said Wolff.
“So we need to provide him with the most reliable car because we want the championship to end in a straight and fair battle, and not by one of them breaking down.
“But then it is my personal nightmare, and probably more than a nightmare for Lewis. We want to get it right and we want to provide a reliable and quick car to both of the drivers.
“We have (been) talking about transparency and fair behaviour towards the drivers this season, and so it becomes even more important for Abu Dhabi.”
Regardless of what unfolds on Sunday, Wolff has made it clear to the 29-year-old Briton, who is in line for a bumper new contract next week if he agrees to sign, this year’s championship chance will not be his last.
“As much as we in the team don’t want that (mechanical failure) to happen, it wouldn’t be the end of the world,” added Wolff.
“He will hopefully have many more opportunities to win another championship, or more than this one.”
The suggestion is Hamilton would be a far more worthy winner of the title than Rosberg, given he has already won 10 races this year compared to the five for the German.
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