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The 2017 Formula 1 World Championship roars to its conclusion in Abu Dhabi on Sunday afternoon, and while we may already know the winners of the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships heading into the weekend, there still promises to be all the usual fierce rivalry and final-day drama. F1 betting expert Andrew Mount tells us where the money will be going.
This season has been defined by the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. As we head into this final chapter of this year’s competition, they are the two most successful F1 drivers at the Yas Marina Circuit, with three victories apiece.
In Brazil two weeks ago, it felt like Hamilton’s concentration was beginning to slip slightly after his fourth championship was confirmed, though starting from the pit lane, he did still end up defying expectations in the race itself to finish fourth. With the champion all but out of the picture, it left Vettel with a much easier task. Having qualified in second, he recorded a comfortable win to clinch his fifth chequered flag of the year and his first since Hungary back in July.
Hamilton’s head elsewhere?
Following events in Brazil, Hamilton arrives in Abu Dhabi in his worst form (in terms of race positions) for some time, and there is a precedent for him tailing off towards the end of season with the title already in the bag; back in 2015 Nico Rosberg won the final three races of the season after Hamilton had secured the championship (Rosberg also started on pole in all three of those races). This fact alone is enough to believe the Mercedes driver may not be at his very best for this last week of the campaign.
Elsewhere, Valtteri Bottas has been waiting even longer than Vettel to cross the line in front (the Finn has not achieved a victory since Austrian Grand Prix). However, he has been on the podium five times since, including second places in the last two races, and it seems eminently possible that another big effort could be in the offing. He was particularly unlucky in Brazil when overtaken by Vettel on the first corner, having achieved his first pole position since Austria, although his previous performances at the track of 15th, 3rd, 13th and DNF (did not finish) are a cause for concern.
Discount Daniel Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo would usually be one of the other potential big players to mention in the context of this race, having been on the fringes of the top three throughout the season (with seven third-place finishes in addition to his one win and one second), but his record in the UAE is even worse than that of Bottas. Thus, he should be discounted. Elsewhere Kimi Raikkonen, a former winner of this race, looks a small threat having podiumed in his last three outings. However, he still hasn’t won a Grand Prix since Australia way back in 2013. Scheduled to remain with Ferrari in 2018, his best hopes for a return to his former glories probably lie next season, his eighth with the Italian constructors.
Vettel has honour at stake
So once again this looks to be between the ‘big two’, as it has been for most of the year. For Hamilton, the job is done, the title is in the bag, but for Vettel, there is still honour at stake. In theory, he can still finish a mere 18 points behind his arch-rival and, at his current price to win the race, that looks to be an ambition worth getting behind. As for the team likely to come out on top, it could be fruitful to look away from Mercedes on this occasion, especially if Hamilton does come up short. With Vettel sure to put in a good performance alongside Raikkonen’s aforementioned consistency, this could be Ferrari’s time to finish the season with a bang.