Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

2019 Abu Dhabi GP Preview

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

With the Formula One Drivers’ Championship and the Constructors’ Championship already finalised, you could be forgiven for thinking that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix may be underwhelming. That, however, is a very narrow view and Sunday’s finale looks set to be a cracker.

Lewis Hamilton has his sixth world title but the Mercedes driver won’t let up this weekend – the British star is closing in on Michael Schumacher’s incredible record of 91 Grand Prix victories. A win at Yas Marina Circuit will see Hamilton move to within seven wins of that particular record.

And history is certainly on Hamilton’s side when it comes to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. With four race victories since the inaugural event in 2009, Hamilton has enjoyed plenty of success at the track and we could see the Mercedes man notch his fifth race triumph on Sunday afternoon.

Event Date: December 1, 2019

Furthermore, Mercedes have been dominant at this circuit in recent years, winning the last five editions of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg clinched the World Championship title with a win here in 2016 while Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s current teammate, romped home two years later.

Some firms offering an industry best price of 7/4 for Hamilton to end a thrilling year with yet another victory and that is incredible value given his record at the track. Yas Marina Circuit isn’t the easiest track to master but the British star has it under control – that could turn out to be a huge price come the chequered flag.

Write Bottas off at your peril though. The Finn has had to play second fiddle to Hamilton at Mercedes but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Bottas challenge at the head of the field on Sunday. He has won at Abu Dhabi before and his team’s record in the race gives him a real chance of competing for top spot on the podium.

Mercedes fans know just how committed and loyal Bottas is – it’s not every day you find a driver who is satisfied with being the team’s number two. Bottas has dreams of lifting the World Championship one day but understands that Hamilton’s status on the team is under no immediate threat.

Some followers of Formula One have their doubts over Bottas’ ability to perform at the very highest level but he is a key part in the best 1-2 in motorsport. Bottas doesn’t always reap rewards for his efforts but that could all change at Abu Dhabi and going forward in 2020. At 25/1 with William Hill, he is well worth a punt to thrive this weekend.

Here’s an incredible statistic ahead of the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Ferrari are yet to win at Yas Marina Circuit. Arguably the biggest and most prestigious team in Formula One, it is a baffling fact but yes, Ferrari have never won the United Arab Emirates race. No pressure on Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc on Sunday then…

Vettel sits 19 points behind his teammate ahead of this weekend’s big race and the battle between the two Ferrari drivers is well worth watching. As the new kid on the block, Leclerc has been simply sublime this season and Vettel may find himself dropping down the Ferrari pecking order unless he can produce a memorable performance at Yas Marina Circuit.

The four-time world champion has failed to live up to the hype since joining Ferrari – though most of that is due to poor car performance rather than his driving and decision-making. We could see Vettel back to his gritty best this weekend, especially if he gets into a close fight with his teammate through the tricky Abu Dhabi Grand Prix corners.

charles leclerc

Charles Leclerc

Leclerc and Vettel are tied on nine podiums apiece this year but the former has two Grand Prix successes to his name and that will sit well with Ferrari bosses. There is no doubting his raw talent and hunger to succeed and Leclerc looks destined to win the Formula One title at some point in the near future.

Watch this space – there is a real ‘changing of the guard’ feel at Ferrari and 2020 could be a huge year for the team. If Leclerc manages to sneak a third Grand Prix win of the season this weekend, it could spell curtains for Vettel’s time as number one at Ferrari. Going forward, Leclerc certainly gives Ferrari a better chance of a world title than Vettel.

On the whole, it looks like the bookmakers agree that Leclerc is now superior to Vettel. The best odds available for Vettel are 11/2 with 888sport while Leclerc is much shorter at 3/1 with the same firm. Ferrari would love to end their run without an Abu Dhabi triumph but it is going to take some doing given Mercedes’ form at the track.

As a fun bet, Hamilton is priced at 4/1 to record the fastest lap of Sunday’s race and Formula One fans should snap that up. The Mercedes man has no pressure on his shoulders ahead of this weekend’s trip to Abu Dhabi and he can relax and enjoy his racing. However, he remains as competitive as ever and there is no chance of Hamilton letting up.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is still relatively new to the sport but it has already made a lasting impact on Formula One. Mercedes have been dominant here in recent times but the new changes in 2020 could see a swing at the top of motorsport’s pecking order. A win here for any of their rivals may create tension during the winter…

Hamilton is arguably the greatest Formula One driver of all-time and he will almost certainly surpass Schumacher’s record tally of F1 wins next season. World title number seven could be on the cards in 2020 but for now, he will be focused on getting the job done on Sunday. A fifth Abu Dhabi success beckons if Hamilton goes for the jugular.

RACE WINNER: Lewis Hamilton (7/4 with William Hill)

FASTEST LAP: Lewis Hamilton (4/1 with 888sport)

About Abu Dhabi GP

History

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel

The inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix took place in 2009, with Sebastian Vettel coming out on top for Red Bull Racing.

The 2019 race will mark the 11th year of Formula One in the United Arab Emirates and it could be an absolute classic if history is anything to go by.

As one of the newest events on the F1 calendar, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has brought mass revenue to the sport and motorsport fans look forward to this race every year.

Without a doubt, the Yas Marina Circuit is one of the best in the business – if not THE best.

With so many chances to claim points throughout the season, the World Championship has been settled prior to the Abu Dhabi race in each of the last two years.

Nico Rosberg did buck that trend, however, in 2016 to claim his first Drivers’ Championship crown.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is still relatively new to F1 but it has cemented its status as one of the biggest races of the year.

Lewis Hamilton has already clinched his sixth world title but Sunday’s race could still be one of the highlights of the 2019 Formula One season.

Winners

With four Abu Dhabi Grand Prix victories to his name, Hamilton is the most successful driver at Yas Marina Circuit.

The Mercedes man was dominant in 2018, leading the race from start to finish to pip Vettel to top spot on the United Arab Emirates podium.

In fact, Hamilton has won three of the last five Abu Dhabi Grand Prix events – with Rosberg winning in 2016 and Valtteri Bottas coming out on top in 2017.

That gives Mercedes a run of five successive victories at Yas Marina Circuit and F1 fans will be backing the German giants to claim a sixth win this weekend.

At the time of writing, Hamilton is priced at 7/4 to claim his fifth triumph at Abu Dhabi. The first of his successes came back in 2011 – back in his McLaren days.

The race itself hasn’t really changed much since its early years but greater emphasis is now placed on agility and speed through the tight sections of the track.

Mercedes have a 50% success rate at Abu Dhabi and that bodes well for both Hamilton and Bottas this weekend.

The Yas Marina Circuit has been kind to them over the years and the history books tell us that we could see a front-running performance on Sunday afternoon.

Fastest Lap

2018 was a particularly quick year for Formula One and that was particularly clear in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

In 2017, Bottas secured pole position with a rapid 1:36:321 but Hamilton obliterated that time 12 months later, setting an unbeatable qualifying time of 1:34:794.

During the race itself, it would be Vettel – flying the flag for Ferrari – who set the fastest lap time of the day.

However, his 1:40:867 was slightly slower than the quickest recorded lap time set by Bottas in 2017, with race conditions in 2018 impacting speed on race day.

That being said, Vettel’s time was only two hundredths of a second out so expect to see quicker times this year…

Interesting Facts

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Abu Dhabi Circuit

Probably the most straightforward fact about this race is that it is the only event on the F1 calendar that is named after the host city rather than the country it is in.

For example, you wouldn’t hear anyone calling the Canadian Grand Prix the Montreal Grand Prix.

Nine of the 10 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix winners have started on the front row of the grid – an important fact to remember when betting on Formula One this weekend.

Kiki Raikkonen’s win in 2012 is the sole exception, with the Finnish driver starting fourth on that day.

It hasn’t been quite as newsworthy in recent times but polesitters struggled to make an impact at Yas Marina Circuit in the race’s early years.

In three of the first four editions of the race, the polesitter failed to complete the Grand Prix.

The Future

Race organisers and Formula One bosses agreed a contract extension from 2016 onwards but there is no set period of time agreed as of yet.

Usually, contract renewals work out at around five years so the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix could be on the calendar until 2021 at the very least.

The future of Formula One is about to change, with spending caps and other factors set to impact the general view of the sport.

Is that a good thing? Possibly. The Abu Dhabi event isn’t under threat so motorsport fans living in the United Arab Emirates are probably happy if it means more competition.

Good luck with any bets on the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend. Mercedes’ record suggests that it is theirs to lose but anything can happen in this great sport.