ABU DHABI -- Lewis Hamilton insists this year's title showdown does not feel different to previous seasons after he refused to be drawn on the likelihood of a collision with championship rival Max Verstappen at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton and Verstappen go in to the final round of the season level on points, with Verstappen ahead in the standings by virtue of having won nine races to Hamilton's eight this year. The situation tees up the tantalising prospect of a winner-takes-all showdown on Sunday, although if they both fail to score points Verstappen would be crowned champion.
The pair have collided on track three times this year -- most recently at last week's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix when Verstappen was penalised for the incident -- meaning the prospect of wheel-to-wheel contact deciding the title is hardly farfetched. But when asked if he was concerned that a collision could sway the title fight, Hamilton said he was not taking it into consideration.
"No, honestly I don't give it any energy," Hamilton said. "I'm here to do the best job I can with this incredible team.
"We never thought that we'd be neck and neck going into the last race, we've had an amazing recovery collectively as a team, we've been in a great position these last few races.
"We go full-steam ahead with that same focus and we don't waste energy on things that are out of our control."
Pre-empting a collision between the two title rivals, FIA race director Michael Masi reminded all drivers in his pre-event notes that drivers can have points deducted or be disqualified from the championship for unsportsmanlike behaviour on the track. The last time such a measure was taken was at the 1997 season finale in Jerez when Michael Schumacher attempted to take Jacques Villeneuve out of the race and was disqualified from second place in the standings.
Hamilton welcomed the reminder from Masi but said he hopes it is not needed.
"I mean, it's happened in the past obviously and I am sure the stewards haven't taken the precautions they have this time around," he said. "I think that's fair that they do it and hopefully, they won't need to be used and we have a great race and move forward. I don't really have an opinion about it otherwise, I'm here to do my job and don't really want to see the stewards and they don't want to see me."
Asked if he trusted Verstappen to race fairly in the season finale, Hamilton added: "As I said, just going into the weekend I don't put any energy towards that sort of thing. At the end of the day, I do believe everyone here racing comes to win. I would like to believe everyone wants to do it in the right way, so I don't even let that creep into my mind." If Hamilton wins the title it will be the eighth of his career, moving him one clear of Schumacher who currently holds the joint record with seven. But Hamilton said this year's championship carries no extra significance for him at this stage.
"I don't know, at the moment it just feels like another championship for me. I don't look at it as a multiple, I always look at every season and every year as you start from ground zero, you're the hunter and fighting from the moment you start training, the moment you get into training you're focused on winning.
"I don't turn up with the number one on my car, I turn up with the number 44. I don't consider myself as the reigning champion that year I consider myself as the one fighting for the championship."