Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021 Preview

F1 Formula One

Liam Bewsher

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Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021 Preview

This weekend sees the final round of the 2021 F1 season take place in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit, where we will find out the winner of the World Driver’s Championship, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton tied on 369.5 points, with the Dutch driver leading having won more races in the season.

The permutations are relatively straightforward for this weekend’s GP, as Hamilton must simply outscore Verstappen on points to claim an outright record of eight world titles, but, if the Stevenage-born driver fails to finish the race in general then the Red Bull driver will win his first-ever World Driver’s Championship. Verstappen must simply outscore or match Hamilton’s points tally to win, but, for the latter to happen it will most likely take a Michael Schumacher versus Damon Hill-Esque finish or even something as cynical as Ayrton Senna on Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1990.

Last time F1 travelled to Abu Dhabi in 2020, Verstappen won the race in the Red Bull ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton, whilst Alex Albon managed to finish the race in fourth in what was his last race for Red Bull.
Notably, this will be some driver’s farewells to the sport, as 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen is retiring at the age of 42, having given the sport many great memories since his debut at Albert Park, Australia in 2001 with Sauber.

Meanwhile, Raikkonen’s teammate Antonio Giovinazzi is set to leave the sport to join Formula E team Dragon Penske Autosport.

Following this race there will be some driver transfers, as George Russell is to replace Bottas at Mercedes, with the Finn going to Alfa Romeo, joined by F2 driver Zhou Guanyu as his future teammate. Russell’s departure from Williams left space for Albon to rejoin the sport having spent 2021 as Red Bull’s test driver following the signing of Sergio Perez before the start of the season.

F1 2021 Abu Dhabi GP RABs

skybet betting tip

HAMILTON TO WIN & FASTEST LAP @ 11/4

Qualifying Preview

Yet again, this track is one that suits the Mercedes more than the Red Bull due to it being more power-based with the large straights in sector two, as well as some of the customisations that have been made to the circuit this year.

Two of the three chicanes at the Yas Marina Circuit have now been removed, opting to make the track a lot quicker, as the chicane just before turn seven has been removed, whilst the one that is located near turn 11 in the third sector has also been removed, cutting out all the other turns until 17, as the track now swoops back in a straight line.

The new layout is untested in the current cars, but, on the basis of the speed that Hamilton has found in recent weeks due to significant engine developments by Mercedes, the Brit will likely take pole position, being followed in closely by both Verstappen and Bottas.

Prediction: Pole Position - Hamilton. 2nd. Verstappen. 3rd Bottas

F1 2021 Abu Dhabi GP RABs

skybet betting tip

HAMILTON & VERSTAPPEN TO BOTH FAIL TO COMPLETE THE RACE @ 10/1

Race Preview: Mercedes vs Red Bull

Rumours have suggested that Mercedes may take another fresh engine for Hamilton, having seen the full extent of the pace it has provided in recent races such as Brazil and even last time out in Saudi Arabia at the Jeddah Street Circuit.

The last race was drama till the very end, as two championship protagonists went to blows, with Verstappen being given two penalties despite some farcical decisions from Michael Masi not to tell Hamilton that the Dutch driver was going to slow down to let Hamilton by having overtaken the Stevenage-born driver off the track. Due to the Brit’s confusion, he hit the back of the Red Bull and both cars did well to take the brunt of the collision.
Hamilton went on to win what was a very dramatic race at Jeddah, with Verstappen and Bottas completing the podium.

Recent races have shown that Verstappen will do everything he physically can to win the World Driver’s Championship, as he battles on in a car with significantly less straight-line speed, hence why the Mercedes is favourite here. Verstappen and Hamilton have come to blows many times, most notably at Silverstone and Monza prior to last weekend’s drama, leaving many to question if they will do again here?

Verstappen’s win at all costs style of driving could see him edge his way over the line, but, he would have to pull off a drive of similar proportions that he did at the US GP. Ultimately, Hamilton has the better car at present and will be seen as the favourite to win a record-breaking eighth World Driver’s title, moving one ahead of Schumacher who he is currently tied with.

It is also likely that Mercedes will win the Constructor’s Championship, as due to Perez’s DNF last time out, the Brackley-based team have an 18 point advantage over Red Bull.

Race Prediction: 1st. Hamilton. 2nd. Verstappen. 3rd Bottas

F1 2021 Abu Dhabi GP RABs

skybet betting tip

HAMILTON TO WIN DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP, BOTTAS PODIUM, LECLERC & PEREZ TOP 6, GASLY & NORRIS POINTS @ 6/1

Other Drivers to Look Out For

In terms of the Constructor’s Championship, everything looks settled and likely to stay in its current order with large points margins between each team on the grid.

Drivers to look out for as ever are the likes of Charles LeClerc who finished seventh in Saudi Arabia, but has now moved himself up to fifth in the standings with 158 points, whilst his teammate Carlos Sainz will be looking to move up ahead of his teammate and former colleague Lando Norris, as he sits on 149.5 points, 4.5 less than the Brit’s tally.

Daniel Ricciardo managed a good points haul last time out as the Australian finished fifth, meaning he now has 115 to his name in what has been an indifferent first year at McLaren.

Esteban Ocon was undoubtedly the best performer in the last GP, as the Frenchman was pipped to third-place on the start-finish straight by Bottas, meaning he has just five fewer points than teammate Alonso, who will no doubt want to improve on his 13th place finish, having managed third in Qatar.

Pierre Gasly finished sixth last time out, whilst perhaps one of the more unnoticed results was Giovinazzi’s ninth-place finish, the Italian will be desperate to impress on what will be his last F1 race for the foreseeable future, whilst the whole paddock will be hoping for a fairytale ending for Raikkonen on his 353rd and final GP.

F1 2021 Abu Dhabi GP RABs

skybet betting tip

VERSTAPPEN TO WIN, NORRIS & PEREZ TOP 6, ALONSO & SAINZ POINTS @ 12/1

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