Abu Dhabi GP: Preview



The Yas Marina Circuit to the west of Abu Dhabi is the venue for the final round of the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship. After the chaos that was the Brazilian Grand Prix two weeks ago, Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton by 12 points in the race for the title.

The scenario, for Rosberg at least, is a simple one. Finish on any of the three steps of the podium and the title is his. Even if his team-mate wins the race on Sunday, Rosberg can win the title with 2nd or 3rd. Contrast that to Hamilton and he needs to finish at least three places ahead of the German. Hamilton has described the situation as ‘almost impossible odds’ against him.

This is the story of the season in terms of points advantage of either of the championship rivals.

Amazing to think that Rosberg had a 43 point lead after the pair's infamous coming together at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Let’s have a recap of the race in Brazil. After 5 safety cars, two red flags (one of them dubious) and what was effectively a 40 lap shootout after the fourth safety car, Lewis Hamilton led every lap and took a deserved victory ahead of his team-mate and an inspired wet weather drive from Max Verstappen.

Like the previous round in Brazil, Abu Dhabi has had championship deciding races since its debut in 2009. Two of them to be exact. Sebastian Vettel won his first title at Yas Marina in 2010 after winning the race and his nearest challenger Fernando Alonso stuck behind both Renault’s in 7th place.

The only other championship decider in the Emirate State was in 2014, the first season with the V6 hybrid engines. It was a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and the Brit led by 13 points heading into the last race. After Rosberg had engine troubles and only finished 14th, Hamilton won the race, took double points for his victory and won the title.

Back to this years championship standings. Away from the two Mercedes drivers the main battle for position in the overall standings is between Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen for fourth place. After his podium finish in Brazil, the Dutchman is five points behind the German and finishing above both Ferrari drivers overall would end a frustrating season for the Scuderia.

In the Constructors Championship, the top three teams have been confirmed but there is a slim chance of Williams leapfrogging Force India in the battle for fourth place. Force India have come a long way since their debut season in 2008 and whatever the result in Abu Dhabi, the 2016 season is their best season to date.

Elsewhere in the Constructors, McLaren-Honda have shown the paddock how far they’ve come since the disastrous season in 2015 and they have gone at least some way to getting back to where they were in 2014. The podium still seems a distant dream but there have been solid points finishes on more than one occasion. Progress.