Venue: Yas Marina Circuit
Max Verstappen can bounce back from a frustrating early exit at the Sakhir Grand Prix and finish the 2020 Formula One season off in style in Abu Dhabi.
The Red Bull driver was third fastest in qualifying at the Bahrain circuit and was expected to push for his second race victory of the year.
However, he was forced wide by Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez colliding at the start and could not recover from running off into gravel.
“It’s frustrating to retire so soon in a race where we had a racy car and a good chance of doing well,” said the Dutchman.
We’re hoping compensation awaits in the season finale, though, and 15/8 for Verstappen to prevail is the first of our Abu Dhabi Grand Prix predictions.
Third place in the drivers’ championship is probably the best the 23-year-old could have hoped for in a campaign dominated by Mercedes.
He has already reached double figures in terms of podium placings and secured a ninth career success at Silverstone back in August.
Mercedes have monopolised this contest in recent years, claiming race victories in the last six renewals, but could be vulnerable this time.
Preparations have been hampered by uncertainty over the availability of Lewis Hamilton, who missed last Sunday’s event after contracting coronavirus while on holiday in Dubai.
Red Bull have their own fond memories of Yas Marina, winning here in 2009, 2010 and 2013 when Sebastian Vettel was in his pomp.
Verstappen finished third two years ago and second last season, so the Milton Keynes-based outfit are primed for a return to first place.
How the Sakhir Grand Prix finished
1 Perez (Racing Point), 2 Ocon (Renault), 3 Stroll (Racing Point), 4 Sainz (McLaren), 5 Ricciardo (Renault), 6 Albon (Red Bull), 7 Kvyat (Alphatauri), 8 Bottas (Mercedes), 9 Russell (Mercedes), 10 Norris (McLaren), 11 Gasly (Alphatauri), 12 Vettel (Ferrari), 13 Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 14 Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), 15 Magnussen (Haas), 16 Aitken (Williams), 17 Fittipaldi (Haas), DNF Latifi (Williams), Verstappen (Red Bull), Leclerc (Haas)
The latter is well clear in the overall standings on 71 points, compared to 32, but our selection has fared better in three of the past four races.
Last time out, Kvyat was sixth on the grid and finished seventh on race day, splitting Red Bull’s Alexander Albon and Bottas, with Gasly back in 11th after being ninth quickest in qualifying.
“I drove really well for an almost perfect race and I’m very happy with my performance,” beamed the 26-year-old Russian. “It was a strongly executed race and the best weekend of the year for me.”
Alphatauri could also prove a percentage pick at 3/4 to outperform Ferrari in the team battles for our Abu Dhabi Grand Prix betting tips.
Leclerc showed good pace in qualifying to start fourth on the grid last week but again paid the price for a reckless manoeuvre early on, which also KO’d Verstappen.
Vettel, meanwhile, appears content to coast through the closing stages of his stint with the Scuderia and was back in 12th in Bahrain.
Past Abu Dhabi Grand Prix winners
2019 Hamilton (Mercedes), Verstappen (Red Bull), Leclerc (Ferrari)
2018 Hamilton (Mercedes), Vettel (Ferrari), Verstappen (Red Bull)
2017 Bottas (Mercedes), Hamilton (Mercedes), Vettel (Ferrari)
2016 Hamilton (Mercedes), Rosberg (Mercedes), Vettel (Ferrari)
2015 Rosberg (Mercedes), Hamilton (Mercedes), Raikkonen (Ferrari)
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