Tensions between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have reached an all-time high ahead of Sunday's F1 title-decider, but the seven-time world champion isn't interested in parleying with his rival.
Hamilton, 36, can break Michael Schumacher 's all-time record world title haul at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the closing race of what could be considered his most difficult campaign to date.
The rivalry between him and Verstappen, 24, intensified after the pair collided again at last Sunday's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, where the Dutchman was served 15 seconds worth of penalties.
Mercedes star Hamilton pulled level on points at the summit of the drivers' standings after securing a third straight win at Jeddah, but he still trails Verstappen eight to nine in race victories this season.
That's led to suggestions that the title is as good as Red Bull 's should neither driver finish the race, though FIA F1 race director Michael Masi has urged the pair to leave the result out of the stewards' hands.
In an appeal to the sport's trailblazing pair, Masi warned adjudicators can deduct championship points or even disqualify a driver should any underhanded actions demand it.
The high-stakes storyline and the leading duo's strained relationship has led to concerns chaos could unfold at the Yas Marina Circuit, but Hamilton isn't concerned with clear-the-air talks ahead of time.
“For me it is quite clear, nothing changes for me," said Hamilton, who has won six of the last seven F1 world championships.
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“I don’t think we need to sit down.
“We have had lots of races, lots of incidents, but I’d like to think we have learnt from these things and move forward.”
That may not be entirely accurate given it was less than a week ago the pair had their most recent tangle, a repeat of which on Sunday could harm what promises to be a spectacular occasion.
Verstappen has been unabashed in maintaining his aggressive style of driving and is closer than ever to ending his wait for a maiden championship, but one of the sport's all-time greats remains a big obstacle.
Red Bull's main man impressed on Friday to win the opening practice session ahead of Sunday's showdown, sending an early statement of intent to his Mercedes counterpart.
Meanwhile, Hamilton is on thin ice with lawmakers and has been warned he risks a 10-place grid penalty if he incurs another warning from officials either in practice or qualifying.
Such a setback would certainly dampen his hopes of surging to an eighth world championship, though it's testament to his ability that one still couldn't rule out his chances.
The title-chasing pair may look back fondly on their special conflict in years to come, but for now at least, Hamilton is keen to keep his distance from the one man he must overtake come Sunday.
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