Mercedes boss Nika Lauda insists that Lewis Hamilton has proven himself as a worthy champion even if he loses his world crown at Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg have been locked in competition for the title this season, with the outcome to be determined in the Middle East this weekend.
With Hamilton coming through with a hat-trick of wins, the title race with Rosberg is as close as ever.
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However, with Rosberg only needing a podium finish to win, the Brit admits that the odds are against him, even if he wins on Sunday.
His boss Lauda feels that even if he loses out on the title, his determination and resilience to bring the title race down to the wire proves him to be worthy of being a champion.
Lauda said: “Lewis’s performances the last few races have been unbelievable.
“He has shown that he is a worthy world champion whatever happens this weekend.
“He was under a lot of pressure as he knew he had to win those races.
“Lewis knows what he has to do on Sunday. He has to win so I know he will go flat out from the start and we will see if that is enough.
“Both drivers have driven very well this year. They have both been on the limit, both winning races.
“In sport, things can go in one direction or another and that’s the way it’s happened this year with the title.
“There will be no deals about how they take the first corner on Sunday. Like every other weekend, they will be free to race each other.
“The whole sport wants to see Lewis and Nico going head-to-head for the World Championship.
“It is a race I am very excited about and I know it would be great for F1.”
Rumours as to Mercedes having a preference of champion has been sparked this season as Hamilton has suffered from a series of costly mechanical errors, which without probably would have seen him clinch a fourth title.
However, Lauda was quick to dismiss these claims, insisting: “There is no preference within Mercedes who we want to win.
“This car has been developed by over 1,200 people in Germany and Britain. We have done everything we can do on both cars to make sure there are no issue.
“Every part of the car has been checked 100 times to make sure they will have a car that - technically - has no issues.
“We will feel bad if due to a mistake here or there that would decide the championship. That would be wrong and a great shame.
“Nico knows what he has to do, but if he starts playing it safe he is going to lose.
“He has to go for the win, but if that is not possible then he to make sure he finishes on the podium.
“If he is in that position, the last few laps he will just have to pray there are no problems.”
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