2018 Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix Preview

The Formula One world championship had already been decided when the F1 train rolled into Brazil a fortnight ago, but thanks to all the drama took place, it just goes to show there’s no such thing as a ‘dead rubber in Formula One.”  

The final stop on the calendar takes us to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and the home of the only race on the calendar named after its host city as opposed to the country.  

2018 will mark the 10th running of the event at the Yas Marina circuit and the race has been the scene of several championship deciders in the past, but this latest instalment of the event will be fought only for the win after we witnessed Mercedes claim their 5th straight constructors title at the last race in Brazil. 

The Circuit

Laps – 55 

Circuit Length – 5.554kms 

Lap Record – 1:40.279 (Sebastian Vettel 2009) 

The Yas Marina circuit is located on Yas island just east of Abu Dhabi and the island itself is now famous for housing the indoor Ferrari theme park.  

The lap consists of 21 technically challenging corners and is popular with spectators thanks to its layout being conducive to many overtaking maneuvers.  

Millions of dollars worth of boats line the marina and if you’re privileged enough to get a spot in some millionaire’s cabin, you’ll have one of the best views of Formula One cars in the world. 

Yas Marina F1 track – 3D lap – Abu Dhabi GP: 

Drivers to Watch

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)  

According to his mechanics, the Brit was moments away from an engine failure when he took the chequered flag in Brazil and with no spare power units up his sleeve, Hamilton would be forced to suffer a minimum 5-place grid penalty should the team decide to replace some parts. If the team leave the engine as is, Hamilton could be at high risk of suffering a failure mid-race, and failing to see the chequered flag. Watch this space. 

Valterri Bottas (Mercedes) 

There’s not too many tracks on the calendar where Bottas can manage to find a distinct advantage over his world champion team mate Lewis Hamilton, but in the 2017 edition of the Abu Dhabi grand prix, Bottas managed to do just that. He took pole by nearly two-tenths of a second and having layed the foundation in qualifying the Finn duly went on with it, claiming his 3rd, and to this point, last win in Formula One.  

It’s a circuit he clearly enjoys, and with Hamilton in relax mode after securing the driver’s championship, the time is right for Bottas to strike. 

Pierre Gasly (Toro Rossi) 

The Toro Rossi drivers of Gasly and Hartley have opted for an extra set of hypersofts in their tyre allocation for the weekend, suggesting that the pair will be attacking the race with no thought of any conservation on their behalf. There’s not a lot to be gained for Hartley who languishes in second-last place in the driver’s standing on points, but for team mate Gasly, there’s a chance at some good point-scoring positions that he will be hoping can elevate him from 15th. The young frenchman, who will be promoted to Daniel Ricciardo’s vacant Red Bull seat next year, will no doubt employ an aggressive strategy with the help of his team and won’t be content sitting behind other mid-field drivers hoping to benefit from a more careful, tyre saving strategy. 

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Betting 

Valterri Bottas looks well placed to land himself on the podium in the final race of the year, with his Mercedes, on paper, currently the best car to tackle the 21-turn challenge that is Yas Marina. Of course, the Ferrari duo would like to reward their team with a final win of the season, preferably with Kimi Raikkonen in first place in what will likely be the Finn’s final race for the Scuderia after 8 years of service to the Maranello based outfit. As it stands heading to Abu Dhabi, Raikkonen is the last driver to win the championship for Ferrari (2007). ‘The Iceman’ will no doubt be missed as he heads back to the Sauber team in 2019; the place where it all began for him what seems like an eternity ago in 2001. But with emotion and sentiment set aside, the red cars will really have their work cut out for them if they are to win on a track that hasn’t had a team other than Mercedes win since Vettel won for Red Bull in 2013. 

If it’s bang for your buck you’re looking for, you could do a lot worse than backing Pierre Gasly to take a points finish as he and teammate Brendon Hartley look to eek every bit of life out of their hypersoft tyres throughout the course of the weekend in a strategic move that could generate plenty of overtaking for us, the viewer. 

Aussie Dan Ricciardo doesn’t have a lot to play for this weekend and unless the Red Bull team can find the perfect setup for this weekend, Ricciardo might be more than satisfied to simply put in a solid performance and close the book on this particular chapter of his career with the hope of heading to greener pastures at Renault in 2019.