Abu Dhabi GP Preview: 5 Headlines To Watch Out For
It's here. The final race of the 2019 Formula One Season. It wasn't a barnstormer, however it wasn't the worst either. We've had five different winners this year, with the biggest surprise being Valtteri Bottas 2.0, who gave Lewis Hamilton a good run for his money in the opening part of the season.
Abu Dhabi hasn't really brought the best of grand prix's to Formula One since it joined the calendar in 2009, to the point where I still question why the f**k it is on the calendar, however 2012 was a cracker. Mercedes have ruled the GP for the past six years, but can anyone challenge them for the win? Here are five headlines to watch out for this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Can Ferrari & Red Bull Mix It Up?
Mercedes, like I said previously, have dominated the UAE GP, with Sebastian Vettel the last race winner in 2013 who wasn't racing for Mercedes, and this year they still come into it as the favourites.
This is a golden opportunity for Lewis Hamilton to take his first pole position since Germany (!!!) six months ago, but his team-mate Valtteri Bottas has a strong record here, winning here in 2017 and taking multiple podiums for Williams beforehand - he is the favourite heading into this one.
Meanwhile still on a high from winning in Brazil, Max Verstappen and Red Bull will hope to make it two in a row. The Honda engine looks to be improving by the race, however they won't have the advantage of the high altitude in Brazil. Expect them to be out of the race for pole but certainly in it for a podium on Sunday.
And then we have Ferrari, who will still be sorting out their driver problem, however I'd watch out for them if they can harness their engine one last time this season, as Abu Dhabi is a predominantly power-orientated circuit.
A Final Farewell For Kubica & Hulkenberg
With the finale of a season comes retirements, with teary fans having to say goodbye to some of their idols. Last year it was two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso, and this year we have the double negative of Nico Hulkenberg and Robert Kubica.
Hulkenberg, the man who will be remembered as "the what could have been" driver will heave after having raced in 180 races, with Renault for the past three years. There will be the age-old debate about whether he was unlucky or just overrated, but the 24 Hours Of Le Mans winner will be solely missed as one of the nicest drivers on the grid.
Meanwhile Robert Kubica, after his comeback after eight years out of the sport after a horrifying rallying injury, which stopped a move to Ferrari in 2012 is bowing out as well. The Pole hasn't had the best of seasons with Williams and will savour each and every final lap of his career.
Is Everything Secure In The Constructors Championship?
This may seem like a bit of a weird headline, however bare with me for a moment. Thanks to Toro Rosso and Alfa Romeo's mega race in Brazil, where they claimed nineteen and twenty-two points a piece, the two outfits have chances, albeit slim ones, of still moving up the pecking order in the constructors championship.
Toro Rosso, now standing on 83 points, the most they've ever scored in a Formula One season, are eight points behind Renault. Whilst it is the smallest of chances, eight points is possible, particularly considering the damage done by last year. They are already guaranteed of their best finish in the championship in their history with sixth, but could they make Renault's woes even worse?
Meanwhile Alfa Romeo have an even bigger task, being ten points behind Racing Point, but their new updates have propelled them to the front of the midfield for the end of the season, and if there are some retirements up front, who knows what could happen.
Who Will Take 6th In The Drivers Championship?
It's a small thing to fight over for, but the two first-time podium takers in Brazil will both want it to finish off their seasons. Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz Jr. are both on 95 points, with Gasly ahead due to him taking a second place finish this season.
Sainz Jr. on the form he is in is the favourite but must at least finish in the top ten with McLaren and must simply outscore Pierre Gasly. The Spaniard has had the season of his career, taking eight top six finishes in twenty races, and has lead McLaren in a post-Fernando Alonso or Jenson Button world.
As for Gasly, it started off awfully after being axed from Red Bull after just twelve races, but since returning to Toro Rosso the Frenchman has arguably been the best driver in the midfield, being responsible for a majority of Toro Rosso's points, putting Daniil Kvyat in his place.
A Subdued Ending To The Season
Like I've stated previously, Abu Dhabi isn't always the most exciting grand prix. After the season high of the Brazilian Grand Prix, this might be one of those where the most exciting thing will be the Saturday qualifying. I could be wrong. Let's find out.
So what do you think? Will Lewis Hamilton finish his championship-winning season on a high or will his Finnish team-mate take his fifth win of the season? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.