When F1 title battles go to the wire...

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As Hamilton and Rosberg go head to head, we look back over five classic, nail-biting F1 finales

The 2016 World Drivers Championship will go right down to the wire: with only the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to go, Lewis Hamilton still has hopes of overhauling Nico Rosberg, after a dramatic win in Brazil reduced the gap between the two men to 12 points.

Hamilton has already clawed back a seemingly impossible situation: having been 33 points behind with four races to go, he has fought back to win from pole position in the last three Grands Prix.

The win in Brazil was Hamilton's 52nd in F1, overtaking the tally of the great Alain Prost. Only Michael Schumacher has won more. This victory came in a wet, incident-packed race at Interlagos that was twice stopped and had the safety car out five times.

Even a Hamilton victory in Abu Dhabi on 27 November may not be enough to clinch the title: if Rosberg finishes third, the 2016 crown will be his.

Hamilton could still win the title if he comes second – and Rosberg finishes outside the top six

At Interlagos, Hamilton admitted that Rosberg remained favourite for the title.

"It is going to be very hard to beat him but it doesn't mean I can't win the race," he said. “"I am going to take the energy I have at the moment and really try to push as hard as I can in that race to get as far ahead and that is all I can do."

Since the start of Mercedes' dominance of F1 in 2014, Hamilton and Rosberg have won 50 of the 58 Grands Prix between them.

As well as the potential showdown for the F1 title, Abu Dhabi will be marked out for British racing fans as Jenson Button's F1 swan song, after 16 years on the grid. Only two drivers in the sport's history have driven more Grands Prix: Rubens Barrichello and Schumacher.

Click here to see the onboard view of Lewis' pole position lap at the Mexico Grand Prix.

Boundless members can watch the final Grand Prix of the season with us at a special VIP, behind-the-scenes day at the Williams team HQ in the UK. The package includes breakfast, lunch a tour of the Williams Heritage Collection – plus exclusive live link to the Williams team and drivers, live from Abu Dhabi. Click here for full details.

Standings ahead of the last race, in Abu Dhabi

1. Nico Rosberg (Ger, Mercedes) 367 points

2. Lewis Hamilton (GB, Mercedes) 355

3. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus, Red Bull) 246

4. Sebastian Vettel (Ger, Ferrari) 197

5. Max Verstappen (Hol, Red Bull) 192


Five F1 title showdowns that went to the wire


1. Japan, 1976: James Hunt wins the title by a point from Niki Lauda

James Hunt won the 1976 world title in torrential rain at Mount Fuji in the Japanese Grand Prix. Coming into the race, Niki Lauda led the championship by three points from Hunt, despite having missed two races after his near-fatal accident at the German Grand Prix. But F1 fans were denied a showdown between the two, as Lauda withdrew after just two laps, saying the conditions were too dangerous to race. "My life is worth more than a title," he said later. With Lauda out of contention, Hunt just needed to finish third to secure the title...


2. Japan, 1990: Ayrton Senna crashes out and wins world title

Ayrton Senna led Alain Prost by 11 points, coming into the penultimate race in Japan. The pair – Senna in his McLaren, Prost in his Ferrari – started the Japanese Grand Prix on the front row of the grid – but seconds later, they had both crashed out, after a dramatic collision at the first corner, making Senna – in the era when it was still nine points for a win – world champion with a race to spare...


3. Australia 1994: Damon Hill starts final race a point behind Michael Schumacher...

After a season marked by tragedy, Damon Hill came to the final race of the season a single point behind Michael Schumacher. Schumacher had begin the season by winning six of the first seven races but two disqualifications (and a two-race ban) had threatened to derail his season. On Lap 36 at Adelaide, Hill looked to overtake Schumacher on the inside, only for the pair to collide, forcing both men to retire – and handing Schumacher the title.


4. Brazil, 2007: Lewis Hamilton loses out to Kimi Raikkonen on the last day

Hamilton led the championship by four points ahead of Fernando Alonso and seven ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, coming to the last race of the season, the Brazilian Grand Prix. But a disastrous first lap saw Hamilton, second on the grid, overtaken by both his rivals and then leaving the track trying to recover lost ground (as seen in the clip here). Running eighth after the first lap, Hamilton was also dogged by gearbox trouble. Raikkonen emerged from his pit stop on lap 53, leading the race - a position he held until the end, winning the title by a single point from Alonso and Hamilton.


5. Abu Dhabi 2014: Hamilton confirms second world title at Abu Dhabi

The Mercedes of 2008 world champion Lews Hamilton and his team-mate Nico Rosberg had dominated the 2014 season but Hamilton came to the final race 17 points clear, having won ten races to Rosberg's five. The complication? this was the year that, against all sense, F1 waste award double points for the last race, meaning that if Rosberg scooped the maximum 50 in Abu Dhabi and Hamilton finished any lower than second, he would be world champion.

On the track, Rosberg, despite qualifying fastest lost the lead right at the start and struggled with mechanical difficulties before finishing 14th. Hamilton took his 11th win of the season and his second world title.

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