Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton 'like a kid at Christmas'

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi GP: Lewis Hamilton fastest at Yas Marina
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Date: 21-23 November Coverage: Live on BBC TV, Radio 5 live and online Race: 13:00 GMT on 23 November (coverage begins at 12:10 GMT) Qualifying: 13:00 GMT on 22 November

Lewis Hamilton says he feels like a "kid at Christmas" as he builds up to Sunday's championship-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver was fastest in both sessions on Friday, narrowly ahead of team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg.

Abu Dhabi GP: Inside F1 looks back at practice

"I love driving this track but the car is the best I have ever driven here. It is spectacular to drive," he said.

"When you know you have a package as competitive as ours, it's like being a kid at Christmas."

Hamilton beat Rosberg by 0.133 seconds in the first session and 0.083secs in the second after the two men traded fastest laps throughout.

He is 17 points ahead of Rosberg and needs only to finish second to be sure of the title, even if the German wins.

Double jeopardy: Hamilton v Rosberg for the title
Hamilton now has a 17-point lead over Rosberg with a maximum of 50 points remaining at the final race in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton can win the title by finishing second to Rosberg. But should he finish third or lower, victory would make Rosberg champion.
All the title permutations for the final race

"It is very close between us and I am just working to chip away at it," Hamilton said. "I just have to drive the way I usually drive and what will be will be.

"I will do the best I can and so far I am doing the right steps and I will keep working away at it.

"It's just been nice to get in the car. I've just been excited to get in the car. It's good to know I am fighting for something this weekend, that's a great feeling.

"I feel good. I feel good in the car but there is undoubtedly more time to find and I have to go and chip away at it tonight.

"There is still time to find I need to study hard tonight to find it and make sure I attack on Saturday."

Familiar situation
Lewis Hamilton previously went to the final round of an F1 season with a chance of the championship in 2007, 2008 and 2010Hamilton won in Abu Dhabi in 2011, but he was alsoleading in both 2009 and 2012 when he suffered mechanical failures
Of those, he was the points leader in 2007 and 2008, with the latter being his only title winHe is guaranteed this season's championship if he finishes first or second

Hamilton appeared to have a bigger advantage on the so-called 'race-simulation runs' later in the session, when teams run with high fuel on a number of consecutive laps to find out how the car is behaving in race trim.

On these, Hamilton appeared to have an advantage of as much as half a second a lap.

"It has been a good day," Hamilton said. "Race pace has been very good today. I'm very happy with that.

Hamilton v Rosberg - key moments

"The long-run pace was one of the best I've had for a while. Today was a different characteristic for the tyre for me - others were having rear degradation and I was having front."

Rosberg said: "It has been a good day. I haven't got all my laps together and that makes me very optimistic because I'm sure I'm going to be able to get them together for qualifying.

"It's feeling good out there. Confidence is good. It's looking good.

"Pole is important but even being second there's so many chances.

"I am trying to approach it as if it's a normal weekend. Of course it's not because of the opportunity this weekend but otherwise the approach today was the same, work with the car, get ready for qualifying."

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in first and second practice on Friday
Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton topped second practice for the 15th time in 19 rounds this year
Nico Rosberg
Last year was the only time Nico Rosberg qualified in the top-six at Yas Marina, and also his only podium at the circuit
Lewis Hamilton
If Hamilton does not win the title he will set a new record for most wins by a driver who did not become champion

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