Abu Dhabi Grand Prix predictions, F1

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Title rivals on collision course

Date: 12/12/2021

Venue: Yas Marina Circuit

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will go head to head in Abu Dhabi this weekend with the 2021 Formula One world championship on the line.

The pair have fought tooth and nail across 21 grands prix leading into Sunday’s finale and are tied on 369.5 points at the top of the standings.

The constructors’ title is also yet to be claimed, with Mercedes holding a 28-point lead over Red Bull.

Hamilton has won the last three races and also set the fastest lap in last weekend’s enthralling Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, moving him level with Verstappen on points.

Neither driver needs to win in Abu Dhabi to claim the crown, it will purely be down to who finishes in the better position, but another Hamilton win at 1.9 kicks off our Abu Dhabi Grand Prix predictions.

The Briton has momentum on his side, arguably the faster car and much more experience which should allow him to keep his cool in the desert.

How the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix finished

1 Hamilton (Mercedes), 2 Verstappen (Red Bull), 3 Bottas (Mercedes), 4 Ocon (Alpine), 5 Ricciardo (McLaren), 6 Gasly (AlphaTauri), 7 Leclerc (Ferrari), 8 Sainz (Ferrari), 9 Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), 10 Norris (McLaren), 11 Stroll (Aston Martin), 12 Latifi (Williams), 13 Alonso (Alpine), 14 Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), 15 Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) DNF Vettel (Aston Martin), Perez (Red Bull), Russell (Williams), Mazepin (Haas), Schumacher (Haas)

Verstappen won in Abu Dhabi last year to end a run of six consecutive Mercedes victories in the United Arab Emirates but the Yas Marina Circuit has undergone a series of changes in a bid to make the season finale even more exciting for drivers and fans.

Three main areas of the track have been reconfigured to help overall speed, pursuing and overtaking.

A chicane has been removed, with a wider hairpin now forming turn seven, while four tight corners, 11 to 14, have also gone – replaced by one long, cambered turn.

Further alterations at the hotel section, turns 17 to 20, have been made to allow the cars to run closer together in an attempt to boost the number of overtaking opportunities on the circuit.

That surely increases the chances of another collision after the title protagonists once again made contact on the track in Abu Dhabi.

If both drivers fail to finish the race, Verstappen would be crowned world champion by virtue of winning nine races this season to Hamilton’s eight.

Two of the closest title deciders in F1 history ended that way. Ayrton Senna’s collision with Alain Prost at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix meant neither finished the first lap and the Brazilian was crowned champion.

Then, in 1994, Michael Schumacher went into the last race in Adelaide one point ahead of Damon Hill and a crash ultimately took both drivers out – with Hill accusing the German of deliberately causing the incident to seal his first world title.

Looking at the 2.0 for Hamilton and Verstappen to collide looks a tempting option.

Away from the title race, Esteban Ocon will be hoping to end the season on a high after some encouraging performances from the Alpine team recently.

We went for Ocon to finish in the top six in our Saudi Arabia GP betting tips and he did so with ease, only missing out on a podium place by 0.1 seconds when he was pipped by the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas on the final straight.

With team-mate Fernando Alonso making the podium in Qatar recently, Alpine are starting to show some much-needed consistency so for the last of our Abu Dhabi Grand Prix predictions, we’re backing Ocon to make the top six once again at 5.0.

Past Abu Dhabi Grand Prix winners

2020 Verstappen (Red Bull), Bottas (Mercedes), Hamilton (Mercedes)
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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