2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Preview

It was a masterful performance in an entertaining and chaotic 2019 Brazil Grand Prix by Max Verstappen at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo to claim his third race victory of the season, the eighth win of his career after starting from pole position for the second time, and while Verstappen produced one of the great drives in his young career to date, others had problems with Valtteri Bottas retiring from the race with an oil pressure issues on Lap 52, both Ferrari’s taking each other out with arguably the most innocuous collision in Formula One history, and Lewis Hamilton making a rare mistake in taking out Alexander Albon from podium contention for what would have been Albon’s first podium, and after Hamilton’s five-second penalty after the race allowed both Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz Jr. to claim their first podium’s in Formula One.

Now, the grid heads to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for the 21st and final round of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship, the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton (387 points), despite finishing seventh in Brazil after the five-second penalty for the collision with Albon, still extended his lead over his Mercedes teammate Bottas (314 points) to 73 points, and now has the opportunity to not only match his race victory tally in 2014 and 2018, as well as score 400 points or more for the second-straight season, but also finish every race of a season for the second time in his career.

Hamilton will also have the opportunity to equal his own record of most consecutive points finishes in Formula One history with 33-straight points finishes. Hamilton, coming into this weekend, has finished 65 of his last 66 races inside the points, with his retirement at the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix being the only race he hasn’t finished inside the points since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, where his engine and ultimately his world championship hopes went up in flames after leading the race comfortably!

Bottas will also be looking to finish his season on a high, and prove to himself that he has the capabilities to challenge Hamilton in 2020!

Verstappen (260 points) moves up into third in the championship for Red Bull Racing-Honda, and will be battling for third-place in the standings this weekend with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (249 points), who surrendered third in the world championship to Verstappen after his collision with teammate Sebastian Vettel in Brazil.

For Verstappen to finish third in the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship:

1. If Leclerc wins the race (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish in second.

2. If Leclerc wins the race (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish third or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

3. If Leclerc finishes second (with or without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish sixth or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

4. If Leclerc finishes third (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish seventh or higher.

5. If Leclerc finishes third (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish eighth or higher (with or without the fastest lap).

6. If Leclerc finishes fourth (with the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish ninth or higher.

7. If Leclerc finishes fourth (without the fastest lap), Verstappen must finish 10th or higher (with the fastest lap if he finishes in 10th).

8. If Leclerc finishes fifth or lower (with or without the fastest lap).

Vettel (230 points) is fifth in the championship after losing his chance to finish third in the final standings after his race-ending collision with Leclerc in Brazil, but still has the opportunity to finish fourth in the world championship in front of his teammate if he can out-score Leclerc by 19/20 points in Abu Dhabi.

Behind the Top Five, there is the battle for sixth between Gasly (95 points) of Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda, Sainz (95 points) of McLaren-Renault, and Albon (84 points) of Red Bull Racing-Honda, while Daniel Ricciardo (54 points) from Renault, and Sergio Pérez (46 points) from Racing Point-BWT Mercedes complete the Top 10, with Lando Norris (45 points) from McLaren-Renault, Kimi Räikkönen (43 points) from Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari, Nico Hülkenberg (37 points) from Renault, and Daniil Kvyat (35 points) from Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda still a realistic chance of finishing the championship inside the Top 10 in the standings.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (701 points) will finish in first, ahead of Ferrari (479 points) in second, Red Bull Racing-Honda (391 points) in third, and McLaren-Renault (140 points) in fourth. The battle remains open though for fifth between Renault (91 points) and Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (83 points), as well as the fight for seventh between Racing Point-BWT Mercedes (67 points) and Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari (57 points). Haas-Ferrari (28 points) will likely finish in ninth, ahead of Williams-Mercedes (one point), who will finish in 10th, barring a minor miracle!

So, who will win the final race of 2019?

I feel like at a circuit which typically offers little shocks or surprises, that a dominant performance from Lewis Hamilton, especially given the race he had in Brazil, would be expected, but you cannot rule out Ferrari, or Max Verstappen from Red Bull Racing-Honda giving him a run for his money in the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Preview

After 20 hard-fought, and exciting races, the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship comes to a close at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for Round 21 of the championship, a season that will be remembered for Lewis Hamilton winning his fifth world championship, equalling the record of Juan Manuel Fangio, and moving to within two of Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championships.

However, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will mark the end of the Formula One career of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso. 313 entries (311 starts), 32 wins, 97 podiums, 22 pole positions, and 23 fastest laps, racing for the likes of Minardi, Renault, McLaren, and Ferrari over the course of 17 seasons in Formula One. It has truly been a remarkable career for the most part.

For the record, Hamilton (383 points) leads the championship for Mercedes by an unassailable 81 points over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (302 points), but the focus in the world championship lies in the battle for third between Kimi Räikkönen (251 points), Valtteri Bottas (237 points), and Max Verstappen (234 points) with only 17 points separating the three with one race to go.

Both Räikkönen and Verstappen have been in great form in recent races, with the Finn having three-straight podiums in the last three races, including claiming the United States Grand Prix, and will be looking to secure third in the championship before leaving Ferrari for Sauber-Ferrari next year, while the Dutchman has been on the podium in four-straight races, including winning the Mexican Grand Prix, and should have won in Brazil after Esteban Ocon, who was attempting to unlap himself, collided with Verstappen while he was leading the race.

However, Bottas hasn’t been on the podium in the last three races, finishing fifth in all three of those races, and will be desperate to get a win before the season comes to an end.

As far as the championship permutations for third, this is how each driver can claim third in the world championship.

For Räikkönen:

  1. If he finishes ahead of Bottas and Verstappen.
  2. If Bottas wins the race, Räikkönen must finish 4th or higher.
  3. If Bottas finishes second, Räikkönen must finish 8th or higher assuming Verstappen doesn’t win the race.
  4. If Bottas finishes third, Räikkönen must finish 10th or higher assuming Verstappen doesn’t finish inside the top two.
  5. If Bottas finishes fourth or lower assuming Verstappen doesn’t finish inside the top two.
  6. If Verstappen wins the race, Räikkönen must finish 5th or higher.
  7. If Verstappen finishes second, Räikkönen must finish ninth or higher assuming Bottas doesn’t win the race.
  8. If Verstappen finishes third or lower assuming Bottas doesn’t finish inside the top two.

For Bottas:

  1. If Bottas wins the race, Räikkönen must finish 5th or lower.
  2. If Bottas finishes second, Räikkönen must finish 9th or lower assuming Verstappen doesn’t win the race.
  3. If Bottas finishes third, Räikkönen must finish 11th or lower assuming Verstappen doesn’t finish inside the top two.

For Verstappen:

  1. If Verstappen wins the race, Räikkönen must finish 6th or lower.
  2. If Verstappen finishes second, Räikkönen must finish 10th or lower assuming Bottas doesn’t win the race.

Behind the top five in the championship, Daniel Ricciardo (158 points) will finish in sixth, while there is, mathematically at least, a six-way battle for seventh in the standings between Nico Hülkenberg (69 points), Sergio Pérez (58 points), Kevin Magnussen (55 points), Fernando Alonso (50 points), Esteban Ocon (49 points), and Carlos Sainz Jr. (45 points), while Romain Grosjean (35 points), Charles Leclerc (33 points), and Pierre Gasly (29 points) all remain in mathematical contention of finishing inside the top 10 in the world championship.

As far as the Constructors’ Championship is concerned, Mercedes (620 points) claimed their fifth-straight championship in Brazil, and lead by an unassailable 67 points over Ferrari (553 points), while Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (392 points) will finish in third.

Behind the clear top three, the battle is still on for fourth between Renault (114 points) and Haas-Ferrari (90 points), while McLaren-Renault (62 points) are sixth, but could still be challenged by Force India-Mercedes (48 points) and Sauber-Ferrari (42 points), who could still yet be challenged by Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (33 points), while Williams-Mercedes (seven points) will certainly finish 10th barring a minor miracle.

So, who will win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?

I think Mercedes will be strong once again in the United Arab Emirates, but I think they will face some strong competition from Ferrari. Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer can challenge, but they will need to focus fully on the race if they are to challenge.

In my view, this is the best chance for Valtteri Bottas to claim a race victory in 2018, and if he does claim victory in Abu Dhabi, it will certainly be well-deserved!

2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Preview

The 20th and final round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend from the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and while the battle for both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship has been decided, there is still plenty to play for many drivers and teams on the grid.

Lewis Hamilton (345 points) for Mercedes leads the drivers’ championship by an unassailable 43 points over Sebastian Vettel (302 points) for Ferrari. Hamilton had an unusual weekend in Brazil, being strong in practice before losing control of his car on the first flying lap in qualifying, going straight into the wall, forcing him to a pit-lane start after his team decided to change and add new components to his car. Then he stormed from the back of the field to the front, leading the race for 13 laps, starting on Lap 30, before finishing in fourth, 5.468 seconds behind race winner Vettel.

Vettel, after his win in Brazil, is on track to claim second spot in the championship ahead of Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (280 points). This will only change if Bottas wins in Abu Dhabi, and Vettel finishes ninth or lower.

The battle for fourth in the championship is interesting between Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo (200 points), and Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen (193 points), who are only separated by seven points in the championship. They are followed in the championship by Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen (158 points), who cannot catch fifth-place Räikkönen in the championship standings.

Also important to note is that it will be the final race in the Formula One career of Felipe Massa, currently 10th in the championship on 42 points. From 268 starts, Massa has won 11 races, claimed 41 podiums, 16 pole positions, and 15 fastest laps in a career spanning from 2002 to 2017, driving for Sauber, Ferrari, and Williams. We wish him all the very best for his future endeavours!

Looking at the constructors’ championship, Mercedes (625 points), Ferrari (495 points), Red Bull (358 points), and Force India (177 points) have secured the top four spots respectively, while Williams (82 points), Toro Rosso (53 points), who are starting their last race with a Renault engine, Renault (49 points), and Haas (47 points) are all in mathematical contention for fifth spot, while McLaren (28 points), who are starting their last race with a Honda engine, are in mathematical contention for sixth spot in the constructors’ championship, and are ahead of Sauber (five points), who are in mathematical contention for eighth in the championship.

As for who is going to win the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, this circuit on paper suits the Ferrari, and should really ought to end the season on a high, for Vettel to secure second spot in championship, but I think Lewis Hamilton is going to bounce back after a couple of difficult races to claim his 10th victory of the season to set a marker for the 2018 season.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 1pm and 5pm local time (Friday 8pm and Saturday 12am AEDT).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 2pm and 5pm local time (Saturday 9pm and Sunday 12am AEDT).

The 55 lap race is on Sunday from 5pm local time (Monday 12am AEDT).