Lewis Hamilton has spoke of being "proud" of Nico Rosberg ahead of their title showdown in Abu Dhabi.
Although the former karting team mates refused to shake hands in a special press conference featuring just the Mercedes drivers (unlike in 2014 when they did shake hands in a similar scenario), They spoke of their respect for one another, despite a somewhat frosty relationship they have endured over the last few seasons.
"When stepping aside from our competitive selves, I'm proud of how he has driven this year," Hamilton told the press, while also revealing it had been a "pleasure" to race alongside the German.
Rosberg added that while things may have been difficult in the past, their relationship had generally improved.
"We still have the base respect that we had back in those early days," he said. "I have a lot of respect for Lewis inside and outside the car.
"There have been difficult moments but this year in general we have made progress. It's generally neutral but of course it's a difficult environment."
Rosberg needs just a third place finish, regardless of Hamilton's result to claim his first Formula One world championship
Hamilton, however, denied suggestions he would be looking to back Rosberg into rivals if he found himself out in front.
"If I am out ahead, I want to be as far ahead as possible," said Hamilton. "Generally when you have a thirty-second lead, that's as painful a blow you can give to the guy you are fighting and those scenarios for me are more valuable and more of an achievement than backing up your team-mate.
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