Grand Prix Preview: Abu Dhabi

The 2018 season has reached it’s close, Lewis Hamilton is the driver’s world champion and Mercedes constructors champions but this final round of the season is still important. We will see drivers contests their final race in F1 and others bidding farewell to their teams for pastures new, with nothing to lose we could see a proper scrap.

The Circuit:

Copyright: Formula One

The Yas Marina circuit features 21 corners which are all predominately slow-to medium speed with a long DRS straight demanding good straight line speed. The braking zones into turn 8 and 11 prove to be the best overtaking opportunities due to the narrow twisty nature of the circuit.

Yas Marina is more of a luxury venue than a real racing circuit with hotels over hanging the track and yachts surrounding it, it is not a drivers particularly favourite event but we have seen drama here in the past along with some memorable title deciders.

Copyright: Pirelli Motorsport

Gracias Fernando!

Copyright: Formula One

After 311 starts Fernando Alonso will contest his final Grand Prix (for now) and will run a special livery on his car to mark the occasion. Alonso is considered one of the greatest of all time and has been spectacular to watch over the years, the turbo-hybrid era hasn’t been kind to the two-time champion and a fresh start will be good for the Spaniard. Expect Alonso to give his best as he has always done and there will be without a doubt be a huge celebration awaiting him after the chequered flag.

Points to prove:

Copyright: LAT Images

Some drivers have missed out on a drive for 2019 but will want to put on a show to prove that they still belong in F1 in a bid to have a chance at returning for 2020. Brendon Hartley’s fate is still in the balance, Alex Albon hasn’t yet been confirmed at Toro Rosso while negotiations with Nissan about buying his contract continue and Dan Ticktum is still trying to get the super-licence points he needs to compete in F1. Hartley needs to put in a huge result if he wants a chance remaining with the Italian squad for 2019.

Stoffel Vandoorne and Marcus Ericsson are heading to Formula E and IndyCar respectively after being axed by their current teams, Marcus Ericsson has stated he wants to show Sauber what they are missing by putting in a good result. As the saying goes you’re only as good as your last race so if they make a good impression they could also keep the names on lists for 2020.

Moving teams…

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Copyright: Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team

Some drivers will be saying goodbye to their teams as they move to new surroundings for 2019. Pierre Gasly will make they jump to Red Bull in 2019 while Charles Leclerc makes his final appearance for Sauber before partnering Vettel at Ferrari. Daniel Ricciardo will end his 8 year association with Red Bull in what will be an emotional race for the Aussie, he has had a torrid season but will want to end his tenure with Red Bull with a podium before switching to Renault.

Desperate to win:

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Copyright: Mercedes AMG Team Petronas 

The last time Valtteri Bottas won a Grand Prix was last years Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when he hasn’t been unlucky he has been slow. Winning this weekend will be very important for the Finn if he doesn’t manage to get the momentum back towards him he will have a very long winter and with speculation that Ocon may take his seat for 2020 he is running out of time to impress the team. Nico Rosberg proved how important taking the last win of the season can be so if Valtteri can find the edge this weekend he can set himself up nicely for next season.

Race Predictions:

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Copyright: Formula One

Sebastian Vettel has won 3 times around Yas Marina and has 6 podiums here, with the exception of Brazil; Ferrari has looked to be the better car in the final part of the season and with the grunt of the Ferrari engine set to help on the 1.2km straight between turns 7 and 8 it looks good for Vettel. Expect a tight midfield battle once again but I predict Force India to lead it, Ocon will be competing in his last race while he takes a likely 1 year sabbatical so a good final race is what a lot of people will be wishing on him.

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