Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview: Vettel seeks Ascari record

Last updated March 4th, 2021

lewis hamilton
Lewis Hamilton: excellent record at Yas Marina

Despite sealing his fourth consecutive Formula One Drivers’ Championship in India last Sunday, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel will want to keep his winning run going with victory at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Race, Sunday, 13:00 GMT, live on Sky Sports F1).

Vettel was a comfortable winner in India, qualifying on pole position and finishing the race nearly half a minute clear of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes. It was his sixth consecutive victory, leaving him just three short of equalling Alberto Ascari’s record, set in 1953. He will be hopeful of doing so in the three remaining races this year.

Lotus’ Romain Grosjean drove impressively to come through from 17th on the grid to finish third, while Sergio Perez also performed admirably, achieving a season-best fifth place in his McLaren. Force India scored a double points finish for the first time in eight races.

With the drivers’ championship now done and dusted, attention falls to the constructors’ championship, where Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus are locked in a tight battle for second, while Force India and Sauber continue to scrap over sixth. It is constructors positioning that dictates the prize money paid to the teams at the end of the season, so a lot is at stake.

This weekend’s race will be the fifth Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, staged at the Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island. The circuit requires a medium to high downforce set up, featuring, as it does, one of the highest number of slow speed corners of all Formula One circuits. Overtaking is difficult despite two DRS zones.

Current weather forecasts suggest a clear, sunny weekend awaits. This is the only Formula One race that begins at dusk and ends at night, so the temperature will drop significantly as darkness sets in. Pirelli have selected soft and medium compound tyres, the same combination used in India last weekend and at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.


Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has an excellent record at the Yas Marina circuit. He took pole position in 2009 and again last year, and qualified second on the grid in 2010 and 2011. He is in good form, having qualified in the top three in each of the last three Grands Prix and at a circuit suited to his style is capable of securing a front row berth this weekend.

The Race

Vettel’s dominance of the second half of the season has been staggering, with six consecutive victories seeing him pull clear of the chasing pack and become only the fourth four-time world champion in the history of the sport. In his hands, the Red Bull has been the clear class of the field since the summer break.

Vettel is obsessed with records and statistics and will be determined to equal Ascari’s record of consecutive victories. His quest continues this weekend at a circuit that has good memories for him, being, as it is, the place where he sealed his first championship back in 2010. He also won the race in 2009 and came through from last on the grid to finish third last year.

He is heavily odds on, but high on confidence, with a fast car underneath him and an excellent past record at the Yas Marina circuit, it would take a brave man to bet against Vettel winning on Sunday.

Jenson Button has finished on the podium three times and in the top four in all of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to date. Although this year’s McLaren is unlikely to be competitive enough to fight for the podium, it should nevertheless give him ample opportunity to secure a strong points finish.

McLaren showed good pace in India last weekend, with both cars qualifying in the top 10 and Button’s teammate Perez finishing fifth. Button may too have been in contention for good points had he not been forced to pit twice early on following contact with Fernando Alonso.

Button has finished in the top six on four previous occasions this year and with McLaren relatively confident of repeating their India pace this weekend, he will be in the mix to do so again on Sunday.

Force India produced a timely return to form last weekend to stymy Sauber’s late-season push for sixth place in the constructors’ championship. A double points finish saw the team extend their advantage to 17 points and they will be confident of a good result on Sunday, having had at least one car finish in the points in each of the last two Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The choice of soft and medium tyre compounds should help Force India perform well in the race as they, along with Lotus, have consistently displayed an ability to get more life out of those compounds than other teams. With good strategy they are capable of getting at least one of their cars into the points.

Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Betting Tips Verdict

  • Back Lewis Hamilton to qualify in the top two @ 2/1 with SkyBet.
  • Bet on Sebastian Vettel to win the race @ 2/5 with BetVictor, Paddy Power or Stan James.
  • Back Jenson Button to finish in the top six @ best odds of 7/2 with BetVictor.
  • Bet on Force India to claim a points finish @ 4/6 with SkyBet (can be found as part of Johnny Herbert’s Charity Tips).

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