Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (SportsNetwork.com) - Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are set to battle for the 2014 Formula One world championship in Sunday's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
There has been an intense rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg throughout the season, which at times has reached the boiling point.
Heading into the 19th and final round of the season, Hamilton holds a 17-point lead over Rosberg. They are the only drivers who remain eligible for this year's F1 world championship. Third-place Daniel Ricciardo, in his first season with Red Bull, is 120 points behind Hamilton.
For the time in F1 history, double points will be awarded in a grand prix. This will be the sixth running of the Abu Dhabi GP, which starts late in the afternoon and concludes at twilight at Yas Marina Circuit, but it's the third time this event serves as the last race of the season. It was also the season- finale in 2009 and '10, the first two years of this race.
If Hamilton finishes no worse than second in Sunday's 55-lap race here, he will claim his second world championship, regardless if Rosberg wins the event. Hamilton's first title occurred in 2008, defeating Felipe Massa by only a single point.
Hamilton would clinch the title by three points if he finished second and Rosberg won the Abu Dhabi GP.
"I come into the race weekend to try to win, as I do every race weekend, so nothing changes there," Hamilton said. "In terms of the pressure, I don't particularly feel any. I think I've had plenty of experience through my racing career - 20 years of racing - to be prepared for today. There's no special recipe for it."
However, if Rosberg won the race and Hamilton finished third or worse, then Rosberg will claim his first F1 title.
"It's an intense weekend, for sure," Rosberg said. "It's going to be a great battle. I look forward to it. That's what I've been working towards for a while now, for this sort of chance, this last race here.
"Lewis is a great competitor and opponent, and it would be hopefully a great end to the season. Of course, I'm here to try to win the race, and then I need a bit of help from Lewis that he doesn't finish second. That's it. So I'm hoping Lewis can come up with something."
Rosberg won the Nov. 9 Brazilian Grand Prix and kept his title hopes alive. Hamilton placed second in Brazil after winning the previous five grand prix (Italy, Singapore, Japan, Russia and United States).
On Friday, Hamilton topped the time charts in both practice sessions at this 3.451-mile (5.554-kilometer) 21-turn road course. His best lap in the first session was clocked at 1 minute, 43.476 seconds, while Rosberg's fastest lap was just 0.133 seconds behind.
In the second practice, Hamilton recorded a lap in 1:42.113, while Rosberg was again second, just 0.083 seconds behind.
The rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg has gradually increased throughout the season. The two had a hard-fought battle in the Bahrain Grand Prix in April, and then there was tension between them in the Monaco Grand Prix one month later and the Belgian Grand Prix in August.
Following the Belgian GP in Spa, Mercedes took disciplinary action with its drivers in hopes of easing tensions between them.
But who knows what could happen between Hamilton and Rosberg in Abu Dhabi.
"Lewis can do something to keep it clean, which is drive cleanly himself," Rosberg said during a press conference on Thursday in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton and Rosberg don't plan to have any discussions between them about the race.
"It's already been discussed at the beginning of the season and several times through the season and particularly after Spa, so there's no reason to revisit it," Hamilton said. "We're not children. We should know what is wrong and what is right."
Hamilton won the Abu Dhabi GP in 2011 when he drove for McLaren. He was forced to retire in this race in 2009 and '12. Last year, Hamilton finished seventh here in his first season with Mercedes.
Rosberg also retired in this event two years ago but recorded his best finish here last season with a third-place run.
Sebastian Vettel has won the Abu Dhabi GP three times, including a victory in last year's race. Vettel, the four-time F1 world champion, will make his last start with Red Bull before he moves over to Ferrari for the 2015 season, replacing Fernando Alonso.
Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, Nov. 23. Race: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Site: Yas Marina Circuit. Track: 3.451-mile (5.554-kilometer), 21-turn road course. Start Time: 8 a.m. ET. Laps: 55. Miles: 189.738 (305.355 km). 2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Television: NBC Sports Network.