5 Headlines To Watch Out On Race Day In Abu Dhabi
We were all expecting it, but Lewis Hamilton hadn't taken a pole position since July in Germany, but with his team-mate destined to start at the back of the grid, the 2019 World Champion was able to take the final pole position of the year with the sun setting in Abu Dhabi.
Max Verstappen did what he needed to do - keep the Ferrari's behind them, who locked out the second row of the grid despite some controversy with Leclerc running out of time to get a second flying lap.
However the best performance of the qualifying session went to Lando Norris. The British rookie looked outplayed by his team-mate in Q1 and Q2, but the youngster then took P6, and will be starting on the third row of the grid.
The Renault drivers had a great qualifying as well, starting P7 and P9 as they defend fifth place in the championship from Toro Rosso.
But without further adieu, here are five headlines to watch out for on race day in Abu Dhabi:
Hamilton v Verstappen: The Empire Strikes Back?
With Lewis Hamilton’s nine race pole position drought over, the newly crowned 2019 World Champion can now focus on taking his first win since the Mexican Grand Prix, however his chief rival will be Max Verstappen.
The Red Bull driver, still on a high from the win in Brazil, took a brilliant P2 in qualifying, and will be starting alongside Hamilton going into the first corner.
Regardless of whether or not Verstappen can get ahead of Hamilton on the first lap, his sole rival will be Verstappen. The Red Bull was only 0.2 seconds behind the Mercedes a lap on race pace, and we mustn’t rule out the newly improved Honda down the straights either.
Vettel v Leclerc: Resurgence
This partnership was a mistake by Ferrari. Why get rid of Kimi Raikkonen? The equilibrium was fine at the team for so long, but now can they really challenge in 2020 with these two pricks together? I don’t mean that, but they are both childish when they deal with their situation.
They locked out the second row of the grid, and with Ferrari’s lack of pace in the race, expect them to be fighting over the final spot of the podium, with Albon hot on their heals. Will they crash again?
Can Vettel Really Pull Off A Two-Stop?
Sebastian Vettel took a gamble. The Ferrari driver, who will be starting in fourth place will be the only driver in the top five who will be starting on the soft tyres. This means we will likely see him attempt to go for a one-stop strategy on the hard tyre, although the extensive work on the medium tyres Ferrari did in practice could lead us to think the German may attempt the impossible of a two-stop strategy at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Bottas On A Mission
Whilst the Abu Dhabi GP has the reputation of being one of the most boring races of the season, Valtteri Bottas starting from dead last with a new engine on the final race of the year should provide some fireworks.
What could Bottas do? P6 may be the best the Finn could achieve, but let’s see - he is on hot form.
Sainz v Gasly In The Championship
With Carlos Sainz starting P9 and Pierre Gasly starting P11, the race is still on for sixth place in the championship.
The two drivers are tied on 95 points in the championship on sixth place in the championship, and whoever outscores each other will essentially take sixth place. It's a big deal, considering the usual midfield best of the rest title is P7.
Alexander Albon could still take it too. The Red Bull driver will be starting in P5 and is eleven points behind the duo, but will need to finish in the top four, not to mention Gasly and Sainz not scoring any points. The game is on.
So what do you think? Will Hamilton finish the 2019 season in style, or can Max Verstappen take his second consecutive race win? And what can Valtteri Bottas do? Please leave your thoughts about all of the headlines in the comments section below.