ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Nico Rosberg looked to Williams for a helping hand in the Formula One title battle on Friday after his Mercedes team dominated Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice.
With team mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton fastest in both sessions, and 17 points clear in the standings, Rosberg needs to win Sunday’s season-ender with someone else getting between him and the Briton.
The chances of that happening did not look overwhelming.
The best of the rest were well off the pace of the silver cars while outgoing champions Red Bull indicated they would not be getting embroiled in any private Mercedes duel.
Williams, Rosberg’s team before the German joined the ‘Silver Arrows’, have the same Mercedes engines and look the most likely to give the title contenders a run for their money in a race with double points.
”The Williams...was actually looking pretty good at some points today,“ said Rosberg hopefully. ”Of course I‘m hoping they’re closer.
”The car feels good and the pace advantage seems to be there for sure at the moment which is not necessarily a good thing because I need some help from someone else.
“(Finland’s Valtteri) Bottas is looking quick at times so we need to see where he really is,” added the German whose Finnish father Keke won the 1982 championship with Williams.
While Rosberg felt he had failed to string his best lap together, and had work to do before Saturday’s qualifying, Hamilton had no complaints.
“We made good steps forward with the setup but, as always, there is still more time to be found. We’ll keep chipping away at it and look to improve in every area possible but the car feels great,” he said.
“It’s the best I’ve ever driven here without doubt...when you know you have a package as competitive as ours it’s like being a kid at Christmas.”
The 2008 champion will have been happy to hear Red Bull’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo, the only non-Mercedes driver to win this year, sounding resigned.
“Mercedes are...yeah, I won’t even mention them,” he said. “But anyway they’re fighting for the title so we’ll let them go.”
Quadruple champion team mate Sebastian Vettel agreed: “I don’t really want to interfere with Mercedes in the race. It would be nice to race them and beat them but I think realistically they are a bit far away.”
Editing by Tony Jimenez