Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview – the fight for sixth5 min read
The final race weekend of the 2017 Formula One season is upon us. This weekend the F1 circus returns to the United Arab Emirates for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
While this season’s champions have already been decided, there is still plenty up for grabs. Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, could make it a Mercedes one-two if he wins and Vettel finishes ninth or lower.
A fourth Abu Dhabi Grand Prix victory for Hamilton?
Hamilton has finished atop the podium at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2011, 2014 and 2016. Last time out in Brazil he fought from a pit lane start to fourth; showing that he’s not decided to take his foot off the gas just yet.
As noted in the Brazilian Grand Prix preview, Mercedes could well switch their drivers around if it would boost Bottas’ chances of a second-place finish in the championship. However unlikely it is that Vettel could finish ninth or lower, you can be sure that if it looks a possibility, Toto Wolf will make that call.
For this reason, I am once again siding with Valtteri, however, will take the each way option to show a return if he finishes second.
It is worth noting that I do believe that Hamilton will be the fastest driver this weekend. Bottas is only likely to win, in my opinion, if something happens to Vettel and the team asks Lewis to let him by. Lewis is currently and so I feel it worth taking a chance on his higher-priced teammate.
Tip: Valtteri Bottas to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Each Way)
The fight for sixth
The top five places in the constructors’ championship have already been decided. Haas, Renault and Toro Rosso have been embroiled in a season-long battle. With just six points separating the three, its gone down to the wire. There’s an estimated £13 million difference in prize money between sixth and eighth place, so don’t be fooled into thinking that this fight is inconsequential.
Renault have lead the way in terms of pace since the British GP and should easily be clear in sixth. However, a lack of points from the now departed Jolyon Palmer and poor reliability sees them in seventh place. Renault will view the season as a failure if they don’t beat Toro Rosso, the lesser funded Renault customer.
The Haas team have been inconsistent this season, however, their two drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean have done a solid job. The team switched attention to their 2018 car fairly early in the season and so it’s unlikely that they will realistically be challenging for sixth this weekend.
Renault needs to outscore Toro Rosso by five points to claim sixth place. However, they may find it difficult to score points this weekend with Force India, Williams and McLaren all likely to be in the mix.
To try to secure sixth Renault could well ramp up the pressure on their drivers, as well as turning up the wick on an already unreliable power unit. This could well lead to one of the Renaults being the first to exit this weekend’s race. As the first retiree last year was a Renault, the fact that they sit as one of the outsiders in the market makes for an attractive price, for a speculative bet.
Tip: First Constructor Retirement – Renault