Mercedes will seek to round off their dominance of the 2015 Formula One season with their 16th victory of the year as this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 13:00 GMT, live on BBC / Sky Sports F1).
The German marque have taken a clean sweep of this year’s honours. Lewis Hamilton secured his second consecutive drivers’ title, while the team did the same in the constructors’ championship, with Nico Rosberg finishing second in the drivers’ standings to contribute to their success. They have also taken pole position in 17 of the 18 races to date.
Debates have raged throughout the season as to whether such a performance advantage is healthy for the sport, although it must also be noted that this is far from the first time in its history that one particular team has enjoyed a significant upper hand over the other teams.
Sebastian Vettel (pictured) has been Mercedes’ closest challenger this year. The four-time world champion has secured three victories and 10 further podium finishes in what has been a very solid debut season at Ferrari, and he will be confident of at least splitting the Mercedes drivers this weekend at a circuit where their superiority is unlikely to be as evident.
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Ferrari have generally been closer to Mercedes at street circuits where Pirelli have selected their soft and supersoft tyres. Vettel secured victory under these conditions in Singapore and also finished second in both Monaco and Russia. Those compounds have again been chosen this weekend and Vettel, a three-time previous winner at the Yas Marina circuit, can therefore be fancied to end the season with a very strong performance this weekend.
The fight between Lotus and Toro Rosso for sixth in the constructors’ championship is the only major battle still to be settled this weekend. The two teams have been closely matched throughout the season and while Toro Rosso have, in general, closed in over the last six races, Lotus were able to extend their advantage to nine points with a better haul in Brazil last time out.
There are numerous ways in which this contest could play out but it is Lotus who have the clear upper hand. Toro Rosso need either one of their drivers to finish fifth or higher or for both of them to finish in seventh and eighth or above in order to have any chance of overtaking their rivals. Both of those things have happened just twice this season.
With this in mind, a finish of ninth or higher for either one of their drivers is highly likely to see Lotus hold onto sixth place. Romain Grosjean has achieved such a finish on seven occasions this year and will be keen to do so once more in what will be his last race for Lotus ahead of his move to the newly formed Haas F1 team for next season.
Grosjean struggled at Abu Dhabi last year but had previously shown good pace at the circuit. He qualified sixth and finished fourth in 2013 and also qualified in the top 10 in 2012. A points finish should therefore be within his capabilities on Sunday.
Force India were rewarded for an excellent season by securing a best-ever fifth-place finish in the constructors’ championship with their result in Brazil. They gained a solid number of points from the early races of the season but their accumulation accelerated significantly following the introduction of their B-Spec chassis in early July. Their average points-per-Grand-Prix increased from 3.88 per race in the first eight to 8.9 per race in the following 10.
Sergio Perez leads his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg by 16 points in ninth and 10th in the drivers’ standings and both are hopeful of ending the season on a high this weekend. Hulkenberg’s sixth-place finish in Brazil was the team’s sixth top-six finish in the last eight races, and their package has proved to be a good fit for a wide variety of circuits.
Hulkenberg led Perez home to a double-points finish in Abu Dhabi last year and the pair have a good chance of securing Force India’s sixth such finish of the current season this weekend.
Our Preview’s F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Betting Tips
Our Abu Dhabi Grand Prix preview has three betting tips for this weekend’s final race of the season:
- Back Sebastian Vettel each-way to win the race @ best odds of 9/1 (the place part of the bet pays 1/3 odds for a 1-2 finish, ie: 3/1 to place) with Bet365, Betfred, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes or Betfair.
- Bet on Romain Grosjean to finish in the points @ biggest odds of 5/4 with Ladbrokes.
- Back Force India to secure a double points finish @ 5/4 with Coral, Paddy Power or Ladbrokes.