For the second time in three years, the Formula 1 World Championship will be decided in the desert at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. The previous two seasons it has been Lewis Hamilton on top, but this time it is Nico Rosberg who heads in needing only just third place or higher to take the crown.
Not that Hamilton will go down without a fight though. The run in to the end of the season has been good for the three time World Champion, and the win in Brazil last time out showed the pure driving skill he has. Although Rosberg was second, the gap back from Hamilton could have been considerably more had there not been safety cars and red flags, and potentially been vulnerable to Red Bull had they not gone off plan with the tyre strategy. Hamilton will need some help from Red Bull this weekend to get the result he needs or a car failure for Rosberg.
The real talk of the paddock will be mainly on Max Verstappen. The drive he delivered last time out in Brazil was a pure masterclass. The only drawback will be the fact it is not likely be replicated in Abu Dhabi, although the excitement for next season’s major rule changes is already growing where Red Bull can build a car to match the performance of Mercedes.
A number of driver transfers were announced in the last race at Brazil. Kevin Magnussen will make the move to Haas for 2017 after losing patience with Renault over a possible deal for next season. This has worked out well, considering the scenes at Haas with Steiner and Esteban Gutierrez publicly having a disagreement in the garage, with the Mexican leaving the team after just one season. Renault also announced that their current driver Jolyon Palmer will stay for another season, a surprising choice considering the other names on the team’s list, which became shorter when Esteban Ocon made the move to Force India.
In terms of tyre choice for the teams this weekend, the Ultra-Soft tyre makes its return. This tyre has a major speed advantage and will create an interesting range of strategies during the race. The Super-Soft tyres will be the mandatory tyre for the teams and has been used previously at Abu Dhabi. The hardest compound available will be the yellow striped Soft tyre,
As the clock ticks down to Sunday, we will see for the final time the current era of the F1 car. It should be a very exciting race weekend and will finally know, who will be the 2016 Formula One World Champion.