Last Time Out:
Lewis Hamilton inherited victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix after Max Verstappen was spun out of the lead and a sure-fire win by lapped traffic. Esteban Ocon’s questionable decision to unlap himself aside, Hamilton and Mercedes were beaten on merit in Brazil which makes it three races in a row they’ve not had an answer to a faster team. Elsewhere a faulty sensor of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari removed him from the equation of the race.
The Abu Dhabi circuit is interesting. It is the quintessential modern day track. Located in a wealthy middle Eastern state, designed with plenty of run-off areas and mixing long straights with tight, twisty narrow sections. It has its fans, and it has its detractors. I’m somewhere in the middle. What is without question is how well the race looks on television. The race starts at dusk and races into the night. Formula One cars under floodlights are a beautiful sight.
Hard to call. Mercedes are typically imperious here. Since the current engine regulations came in in 2014, Mercedes have won every race here with three of the four of those wins being 1-2 clean sweeps. They were however expected to dominate at Austin in the US Grand Prix and were well beaten by both Ferrari and Red Bull.
It’s the Red Bull team that impressed most in the last number of races, particularly through Max Verstappen. The Dutch driver has scored four consecutive podiums, two of which should have been wins. As it happened Verstappen had to make do with just the one victory in Mexico. What’s clear is that they’ve unlocked a level of pace that mitigates against a relatively poor engine.
Ferrari are the unknown quantity this weekend. Both the team and Sebastian Vettel had fallen away badly in the middle third of the season and that did for them in terms of Championship honours this year. They returned to competitive form at both Austin and Mexico but were well beaten in Brazil where a faulty Ferrari driven by Vettel trailed home in sixth. Kimi Raikkonen delivered a decent race to finish on the third step of the podium.
A word finally on Fernando Alonso. The two-time World Champion will race in Formula One for probably the final time on Sunday. A polemic figure with the requisite racing talent to have won more. The Spaniard became a divisive figure in the sport in the second half of his career and following his ill-fated move to McLaren four years ago he will depart the sport with a whimper in a car that belongs at the back of the grid or in the scrapheap.
McLaren unveils special livery for Alonso's F1 farewell Alonso announced earlier this year he will not race in F1 next year, and the Spaniard will race in a special colour scheme to mark the occasion of his final race with McLaren. The colours of his helmet – blue, yellow an… pic.twitter.com/I53mvlROp5
— New Turbos (@Newturbos) November 21, 2018
Considering historic form, Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are hard to oppose. Their struggles in recent races puts a question mark over their prospects. However, seeing Hamilton as second favourite and being available at odds against swings it decidedly for me.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Winner – Lewis Hamilton 9/4
An alternative shout is looking at Max Verstappen and Red Bull being strong once again. After a string of four podiums in the last four races, the fact he’s nearly evens here to achieve the same again appears value to me.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Top 3 – Max Verstappen 19/20