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Let’s imagine you’re Nico Rosberg, sitting on the front row of the Yas Marina grid and just 55 laps away from winning your first world championship. What’s running through your mind?
The usual details about tyre strategy and race-start procedure, to be sure, but on this day—your day of destiny—two other thoughts have worked their way into your head.
First and foremost, the old sporting adage that luck tends to even itself out over the course of a season.
While Hamilton, sitting a matter of metres ahead, has been crippled with technical problems throughout this year, you—with the exception of manageable brake and MGU-K issues in Australia and Russia respectively—have been blessed with perfect reliability.
As well as you have performed in 2016, that luck is certain to run out someday…could today, of all days, be that day?
With that, all the memories of two years ago will come flooding back.
After all, you came to this race in 2014 hoping to win the title, only for a faulty engine to leave you defeated in the darkness as your team-mate headed for the bright lights. Remember how you felt that night? What if it happens again?
Protecting a less-comfortable-than-it-seems lead of 12 points in what could prove to be your last chance to join the immortals, can you really risk a repeat? Can you really wait for something to happen?
It will be around that point, as the tyre blankets are removed and the Silver Arrows lead the field on the formation lap for the final time, when Rosberg will commit to doing the deed.
When the five red lights disappear around two minutes later, he will draw alongside his rival and make sure the No. 44 car doesn’t make it through the first corner, taking his team-mate with him into the barriers.
As the two men walk away from the wreckage, Rosberg will be dismissed as a dirty, undeserving champion, a poor man’s Alain Prost, a slimy Michael Schumacher.
When all’s said and done, though, the 2016 title will be his—and nobody will take that away from him.