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Abu Dhabi GP: Thursday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
20/11/2014

Lewis, you're guaranteed the title on Sunday if you finish in the top two, something that you have done for the last six races. It's your fourth final day title showdown, how are you feeling before this duel in the desert?
Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, I think it generally feels quite cool to be here, obviously the weather is great, the track's fantastic, it's a beautiful place, so, yeah, excited for the weekend.

Nico, it's your first final day title showdown, how much confidence are you carrying into this weekend from the way you performed last time out in Brazil?
Nico Rosberg: Yeah, of course it's great coming into this weekend, the way Brazil went for sure, that I was able to progress after Austin, that gives me a lot of confidence going into this weekend, definitely.

Lewis, back to you, you've had two poles and a win here. You also retired twice while leading. Does the fact that the showdown is happening at a track where you have a strong record make any difference?
LH: I'm sure there are positives with it. It's a great circuit, it's generally suited the car that I had when I was back in McLaren years ago and it's definitely a track that has suited my driving style in the past, but every year is different. I hope to take that positivity into this weekend.

Back to you Nico. You qualified ahead of Lewis here last year and you have done so overall in this 2014 season, how much satisfaction do you derive from that?
NR: At the moment I'm not really thinking about that. At the moment I'm focused on trying to win this race. But of course, yes, knowing that helps and gives me a good opportunity this weekend knowing that my qualifying form has been really good, so that should be another plus going into this race here.

Fernando, coming to you, it's been announced today that you're leaving Ferrari after five seasons. Tell us why and your thoughts on those five years with the team?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, obviously, you know, it's a new chapter in my career. I felt it was the time to find new projects, new motivation. It was not an easy decision to make. I was in talks, even last year to be honest, and we wait for this year, for the new car, the new turbo era etc. This year I felt around summertime, September, it was time to move and I take the decision. Only time will tell if it's a good one or a bad one. But what is for sure is that it has been an amazing experience. So, so happy, so proud to have had those five years with an amazing team, amazing brand like Ferrari. I grew up as a driver, as a person, only good feelings and good words. Obviously we missed the championship, came three times second, but I am extremely proud of those second places and the work we did in those years. Now it is time to close one door, to open a new one and we'll see how it goes.

In terms of opening that new door, McLaren says it will announce its drivers on December 1st. How much bearing does the test next week with Honda and McLaren have on what you do next?
FA: Zero.

Moving on to Sebastian then. In many ways the destinies of you, Fernando and Jenson have all been interlinked over the last few weeks and months. You've signed to replace him [Alonso] on the three-year deal. How are you feeling about that and why is this the right move for you now?
Sebastian Vettel: I think it felt like the right time. I think it's not an easy decision to make. Obviously I've been with Red Bull for more or less my entire life, since I was 12 years old I've been supported by them and obviously I have a very, very strong link to all the people in Austria. Later on obviously I had the opportunity to race for both of their Formula One teams, which we couldn't see coming once we were starting and part of the Red Bull Junior Team but in terms of timing obviously it worked out brilliantly and the success we've had in Formula One, especially with Red Bull Racing over the last four years I think has been an incredible journey. But I think at some stage you feel that you want to take on a new challenge and do something different. I think I don't have to mention the history of Ferrari in the sport and it's probably the greatest team to driver for. I'm very excited and very motivated to try to do my best, to put my heart in it and yeah, obviously be successful, that's target.

You're a three-time winner of this race here in Abu Dhabi and the outgoing world champion - next year you'll hand your number one plate to either Lewis or Nico. What's your commentary on the title battle that those two have fought throughout this year?
SV: Well, I think Mercedes made it very boring this year, so I think it's good to see that they were battling very closely, they had great races, battling for the lead, which is obviously the most interesting position in the race for the people to watch. Remembering races like Bahrain, I think they put on a great show for the fans and took it to the last race, so I think both of them deserve to win after such a great season but I'm sure if you ask either one of them, they will give you plenty of reasons why each one is deserving more than the other.

Thank you. Coming to you Jenson. Your destiny has been linked to the two gentlemen to your right and their moves. What's your feeling now on the way things are panning out?
JB: Nothing has changed for me, for the last two months. So I've got nothing else to add, apart from that I go into this weekend looking forward to it. I've learned to live in the moment a lot more this year and that's exactly what I'm going to do. I've got my family here this weekend, so looking forward to the weekend and hopefully we can have a good result.

It's worth noting that you've had the third longest career in Formula One history, how do you look back on it at this point?
JB: At this point? It's everything I set out to achieve. I think when you're a kid your dream is to get to Formula One, your next dream is to win a race and then win the world championship. I've achieved all three of those. Is that enough for a driver? Every driver is different. But I love racing and that's why, as I said, living in the moment is key right now, not thinking about the future too much and hopefully we can have some good fights this weekend.

OK, thank you for that. Coming to you Nico. You scored points in the first 10 grands prix this year but only four times in the last eight races. What's been going on there?
Nico Hulkenberg: The second half wasn't as flawless and as smooth as the first half I'm afraid and on top of that also we seemed to be a lot more competitive initially in the year. We've slipped back a bit in terms of development and, you know, Formula One is a fast-living business and if you don't put the upgrades on the car you get overtaken and I think that's what happened to us.

There's a lot of focus on the midfield teams at the moment. From a driver's point of view, what's your take on the situation with Force India, Sauber and Lotus?
NH: In terms of what?

Sustainability, the future, the outlook?
NH: Well, obviously we're here, we're fighting for points and obviously the target is to beat McLaren in the Constructors' Championship, which is very ambitious, they are quite far ahead now. We'll give our best, as every weekend, and give our all and see if we can do it. Otherwise, everything is OK.

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