For the second time in three years, Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will take their battle for the Formula 1 World Championship title to the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Thanks to three successive wins in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Hamilton has trimmed the 33-point deficit to Rosberg down to just 12 points heading into Sunday evening’s race at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Rosberg, however, managed to limit the points damage by finishing second to Hamilton on each of those occasions. The German has enjoyed near faultless reliability compared to Hamilton, who crucially retired with an engine failure while leading the Malaysian Grand Prix.

A failure to finish the final race of the season will have potentially devastating implications for Rosberg, while a DNF for Hamilton would end his tilt at a fourth World Championship crown on the spot.

Reliability issues notwithstanding, Rosberg remains in control of the battle and simply needs to finish on the podium – irrespective of Hamilton finishing in front of him – to take a maiden title to join his father Keke Rosberg in becoming a World Champion. They would become the sport’s second father-son World Champions in the wake of Graham and his son Damon Hill.

There are a number of permutations to wrap the World Championship crown in either direction; here’s how each driver can win:

Rosberg will be champion if:

  • He finishes on the podium, irrespective of Hamilton’s result
  • He finishes fourth, fifth or sixth, and Hamilton does not win the race
  • He finishes seventh or eighth and Hamilton does not finish in the top two
  • He finishes ninth or 10th and Hamilton does not finish on the podium
  • Hamilton does not finish on the podium, irrespective of his own result

Hamilton will be champion if:

  • He wins the race and Rosberg does not finish on the podium
  • He finishes second and Rosberg does not finish in the top six
  • He finishes third and Rosberg does not finish in the top eight

There also two instances where the pair can tie on points.

Should Hamilton finish in fourth place and Rosberg does not score, the latter would win the title on countback. With both drivers having won 9 Grands Prix each this season, it would come down to who has more second-placed finishes and the victor would be Rosberg (who has four to Hamilton’s three).

The other tied-points scenario would occur if Hamilton finishes in second position and Rosberg crosses the line seventh. In this instance, Hamilton would win the title. With nine wins and four second-placed finishes each, Hamilton’s four third-placed finishes to Rosberg’s two would seal the deal in the Englishman’s favour.

Image via XPB Images

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.