Lewis Hamilton has began the mind games with Nico Rosberg saying even if his team-mate wins the title, he will still feel as if he is the champion because of his own performances.
Rosberg heads into Sunday’s title decider in Abu Dhabi leading Hamilton by 12 points.
His advantage means all the German needs is to finish on the podium to wrap up his first World title while Hamilton has to finish on the podium to even stand a chance at retaining the crown.
But whether he does or not, the Brit reckons his performances will make him the champion, at least in his own heart.
“Maybe I ought to keep this private, but I feel a certain way in my heart about how I have performed,” he told The Telegraph.
“If he is labelled the World Champion, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is the way it is labelled in my heart.”
This year has seen Hamilton’s efforts undone by Mercedes’ reliability troubles, which without a doubt have hit the reigning World Champion the worst.
It has led to some debate of who of the two Mercedes team-mates is the most deserving of the title with Hamilton saying he only wants to win because he is the best, not because it was gifted to him.
“I generally want to win because I’m the best. I want to pass you because I’m better, because I’ve outsmarted you.
“I don’t want to have any victory where it has been given to me.
“There’s nothing heroic about that, nothing hard-earned. There’s nothing in that for me, but for other people there is.”
He cited Rosberg’s victory in last season’s Monaco GP, in which the German benefitted from a botched final pit stop for Hamilton, as an example of his team-mate feeling otherwise.
He added: “Monaco in 2015 was really strange for me, because I thought: ‘Dude, you didn’t earn that win, and yet you’re the happiest'”