The strangest season in the history of Formula 1 comes to an end this weekend (11-13 December) with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The F1 World Championship, which this year started in July, four months later than scheduled, has been plagued with uncertainty in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sunday’s race will be the last of the fourteen appointments on the calendar. A bit of a miracle considering the constant threat of cancellations posed by the spread of the disease.
The queen of racing disciplines will lower the curtain this coming Sunday at the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit. Although the drivers’ and constructors’ titles belong to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, there are still some positions to be decided in the last round. Finally, the Briton will return to F1 action this weekend after testing negative for COVID-19.
As for what to expect on Sunday, the German cars have taken the gold at the Persian Gulf race since 2015, and so they are the absolute favourites. Red Bulls´s Max Verstappen, however, might show up and ruin the party. Another rival who could shake things up at the top is Racing Points´ Checo Perez, on a high after his triumph in Sakhir.
The runner-up: Bottas or Verstappen?
At the driver standings, the runner-up’s place is still up for grabs. Occupying that second position is currently a lacklustre Valtteri Bottas.Despite his embarrassing run at Sakhir, where he was out-performed by Hamilton’s replacement rookie George Russell, the Finn leads Max Verstappen by 16 points.This, however, does not seem like much, considering the difference in spirits of one and the other.
Fourth place is pretty much in the hands of Checo Perez. After his impressive victory at Sakhir, the Racing Point driver has 125 points, 13 more than Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Fifth place is also in dispute. At the moment, holding the sixth to ninth posts are Charles Leclerc (98), Carlos Sainz (97), Alex Albon (93) and Lando Norris (87) respectively, all of them separated by a mere eleven points. Which of the two McLaren teammates will finish ahead of the other?
Racing Point vs McLaren: Third place is at stake
Perhaps the most awaited battle of all at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be the one between Racing Point and McLaren for third place of the team standings. After the winning (Perez) and third positions (Stroll) of the pink cars at the Sakhir GP, the team from Silverstone has recovered third place, displacing McLaren, which is commanded by Sainz.
Racing Point now has 194 points, 10 more than the Woking team after Sainz’ fourth-place in Sakhir and Lando Norris’ tenth at the Bahrain ‘oval’.
On the other hand, several drivers will bid farewell to the F1 on Sunday and others will do so to their current teams. Among the former are Haas riders, the Danish Kevin Magnussen, and the Franco-Swiss Romain Grosjean, who is still recovering from his horrifying accident in Bahrain. Also saying goodbye will be the Russian Daniil Kvyat, with this Sunday’s being the last race of his second F1 stint with Alpha Tauri.
Other drivers will say be bidding farewell to their current teammates this weekend. Carlos Sainz will be leaving McLaren to join Ferrari next season while Daniel Ricciardo will take his place in the English team.
Sebastien Vettel will be leaving Maranello for Racing Point. Meanwhile, the Mexican Checo Perez has been left without a seat at the Silverstone team, where he has raced for the last seven seasons.
Images of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: F1.com.