Rosberg senior keeps his distance

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Keke Rosberg may be on the brink of becoming the first Formula One world champion to watch his son win the title, but he will be doing it from a distance.

Formula One - F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - 26/11/2016 - Mercedes' Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany drives during qualifying session. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

The 67-year-old Finn has been conspicuous by his absence at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg, who leads Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton by 12 points and will start on the front row of the grid alongside his rival on Sunday, told reporters his father had no plans to attend.

“My dad, he likes his three monitors. To have everything in front of him -- the timing, the on-boards, this and that, so he prefers to be there rather than here,” the German said of the Monaco-based 1982 champion.

Although Graham and Damon Hill were the first father and son world champions, the double title winning Briton died in a plane crash 21 years before his son triumphed with Williams in 1996.

Keke has been a familiar face at pre-season testing, and a regular at the Monaco Grand Prix given the proximity to his home, but decided long ago to stop commenting on Nico’s achievements and progress.

His presence in Abu Dhabi would have changed the dialogue fundamentally, with the Mercedes driver stating repeatedly this season that he is taking it one race at a time and not thinking about the title.

Having his father around would have broken that pretence and put the focus firmly on the championship again.

Rosberg’s justification may not stand the closest of scrutiny, with no shortage of monitors and data streams in the team garages, but the German was in the mood to assert his own reality.

He would, he said, be going for victory -- even though he does not need to win to be sure of the title and has finished the last three races in second place behind Hamilton.

Asked whether he would be happy for a ‘boring’ one-two, Rosberg insisted that was not the case: “I want to win,” he said. “That’s what I’m here to do this weekend. I want to fight for that tomorrow.

“The best win is always when it’s close, because that’s the most emotional.”

Pressed on whether he would really be going ‘all-out’, Rosberg prevaricated.

“All-out. That’s a big word, isn’t it?” he said. “For sure, in my mind, I am going to go for the win even if I am at some point of the race not in that position. I want to finish the season on a high.”

His preparation, though, has been no different to any other race weekend. “It helps me to keep my mind focussed,” he explained. “And so it’s going to be the same as always. Dinner with friends, have a good time, a few laughs, early to bed.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Ian Chadband