Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Points For Perez6 min read
The Formula one season concludes with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the Yas Marina Circuit. In 2017, it was Valtteri Bottas who brought home a Mercedes one-two. The Finn, however, has not won a race since – will Bottas become the first winless Mercedes driver in a turbo-hybrid season? Honestly, it’s a real possibility.
Mercedes to dominate?
The Mercedes’ have been suffering with overheating rear tyres since they took the decision to close some of the holes in their rear wheels. Unfortunately for them, Abu Dhabi is generally quite warm even in the evening.
There is some good news for the Silver Arrows; Mercedes have been unstoppable in qualifying at Yas Marina in recent years. They have locked out the front row of qualifying each of the last four years. Mercedes’ one lap pace remains the best in the field, so you’d be hard pushed not to pick any other car to start on pole. Personally, I’m backing Bottas to take pole, however, I will be taking the each way option (1/3 odds for the first two places) meaning I’ll see a return if he starts on the front row.
Redemption for Verstappen
Mercedes will also be going for their fourth Abu Dhabi Grand Prix one-two finish this weekend. I’m not convinced they will be able to achieve this unprecedented feat, but I don’t have much faith in the Ferrari’s either. Ferrari have never won at the Yas Marina Circuit. In fact, the Scuderia have failed to finish in the top two positions throughout the turbo-hybrid era. So, who will win? Truth be told the likely answer is Lewis Hamilton. Despite their issues, Mercedes have managed to keep Hamilton in positions where he can capitalise on others’ errors to take victory. At 15/8, Hamilton seems a fair price, but with little to play for it’s still a difficult pick.
Slightly easier to side with would be Max Verstappen. Verstappen, much to my amazement, was truly dominating in Brazil before he was punted off the track by Esteban Ocon. Max will feel like he’s got something to prove and will push hard to claim his third victory of the season. There’s still the chance of Verstappen clinching third place in the championship to spur him on. Max is sitting just three points behind Bottas and a further 14 points behind Raikkonen, so it’s still all to play for. I’ll be taking up the each way option on Verstappen winning the race hoping he can show similar speed as he managed in Brazil.
There’s plenty going on down the order. Williams will almost certainly finish the season in the final position in the championship for the first time in their history. They need 26 points to have any chance of avoiding the wooden spoon – there’s almost the same chance of this happening as there is of me ever getting a contract to drive in Formula 1.
Toro Rosso need at least nine points to have a chance of beating Sauber into eight in the Championship. Unfortunately for the Red Bull sister team, they haven’t had points finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for six years. They may well have to settle for ninth place this season, but they’ve been doing amazing work with Honda throughout the season which should see them, and Red Bull, in a better position next season.
Force India sit only six points ahead of Sauber in the battle for seventh in the championship. In what could be potentially Estban Econ’s formula one race you could be forgiven for backing Frenchman to go out on a high. Stats, however, lead you to his teammate Sergio Perez. Perez has scored points in his last five consecutive Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, with his average finishing position being seventh. For this reason, Perez to finish in the points looks like a sensible bet, but at 8/13 may be a little short. I’m going to chance Perez to squeeze into the top six at a more palatable 9/2.
Back Valtteri Bottas to qualify on pole at (EW)
Back Max Verstappen to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at (EW)
Back Sergio Perez to finish in the top six at