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SAO PAULO – Nico Rosberg knows he will need some help to overcome Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton for the Formula One title. The Brazilian Grand Prix may be where he gets some.
Hamilton won his first world title in a dramatic race in Brazil in 2008, but since then he hasn't had much luck at the Interlagos track in Sao Paulo. He failed to finish the race in two of the last three years because of collisions or mechanical problems, and was only ninth a year ago. He has never finished better than third at the track.
Hamilton has a 24-point lead over Rosberg with two races left, meaning he can secure the drivers' title with consecutive second-place finishes. A third-place finish in Brazil on Sunday and a second in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix also would be enough. It's a comfortable advantage considering the British driver has won five in a row and Mercedes has finished 1-2 in 10 of the 17 races so far.
"My record at Interlagos hasn't actually been the best so far in terms of results, though, with only one podium all the way back in 2009," Hamilton said. "I'm hoping this weekend will be the one to change that."
The championship won't be decided in Brazil no matter what, but Rosberg needs to win the race at Interlagos and hope that Hamilton struggles so he can reduce the points-deficit and head to Abu Dhabi with a better chance of winning the title.
"Now it's up to me to make the most of these last two races and capitalize on any opportunity," Rosberg said. "It will be tough, but I'm going to give it absolutely everything I've got right up to the flag in Abu Dhabi."
The 29-year-old German finished fifth at Interlagos last year, four spots ahead of his teammate. Another setback for Hamilton in Brazil this weekend could turn the title race in Rosberg's favor again and give him the chance to lift the trophy with a victory in the final grand prix.
"I've got a mixed record at this circuit but it's one I really enjoy as it's usually a really action-packed race," Rosberg said. "It would be great to give my title challenge a final boost with a good result before we head to the showdown in Abu Dhabi."
Hamilton, a 10-time winner this season, won't change his strategy despite his advantage going into the decisive races, but said he expects Rosberg to come on attack mode from the beginning.
"I expect the best from him always. I have to assume that he is going to come back strong this time," the 29-year-old Hamilton said. "I just have to keep going as hard as I can in these last two races. I'll be trying to win, as always."
Rosberg has finished second 10 times this season, including in the last three races. His last victory was at home in the German GP in July, and not being able to win again in the final part of the championship has cost him a lot in the drivers' standings.
He started from the pole in two of the last three races but wasn't able to stay in front of Hamilton.
"He was a bit too cautious, especially if the one behind you (Hamilton) is pushing and is on the same tires," said Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. "For Nico it is a pretty difficult situation, as he has to win the two remaining races and hope that Lewis finishes worse than P2 or that he retires."
Rosberg if fighting for the F1 championship for the first time in his career.
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