F1 Abu Dhabi GP Preview: Season set to end in style
Written by Chris Winterburn
The 2019 Formula 1 season has been one of ups and downs, albeit AMG Petronas Mercedes have enjoyed the majority of the ups.
We’ve seen Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing threaten to battle for the championship, but it will have to wait until 2020 for us to see a serious title challenge.
Lewis Hamilton continues to reign supreme, but as we head to Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season, it’s likely we shall see the campaign in style.
Hamilton vs Verstappen Part Two will entertain:
Whilst this won’t be the battle that we expect between the pair next season, the Brazilian Grand Prix showed that the battle between the British and Dutch driver can be absolutely box office.
The pair are expected to qualify strongly in Abu Dhabi and be at the front of the grid, especially if Ferrari’s inter-team struggles continue, and whilst there is nothing tangible to battle for, it will be fascinating to see Hamilton and Verstappen in close proximity once more.
This will likely be the battle that will determine who takes home the drivers’ championship in 2020, and the pair will know just that. They won’t want to give the other an inch on Sunday, just as they didn’t at Interlagos, as they know it could hand momentum to their rival ahead of Melbourne in a few months’ time.
McLaren F1 Team looking to end the season strongly:
Carlos Sainz Jr’s podium position in Brazil may well have been somewhat fortunate after Lewis Hamilton was handed a penalty after the conclusion of the race, but the fact that the Spaniard was able to finish fourth prior to that was impressive enough.
Gone are the days of Fernando Alonso being constantly let down by the McLaren car be that through technical faults or poor race strategy, make no mistake the team are back and ready to fire on all cylinders in 2022.
Sainz Jr and Lando Norris have performed fantastically throughout the 2019 season as the team has rediscovered the consistency that has been missing in recent years.
The team’s points tally of 140 in 2019 is their best return since the 2014 F1 season where they claimed 181 points as a team, and they expect 2020 to be even better.
Abu Dhabi will pose an interesting test for the McLaren drivers with regards to qualifying, with the drivers actually enjoying a boost in speed of late, and the pair will be keen to show their rivals just what to expect from the team next year, with the corner appearing to have been turned, if you pardon the pun.
Could Sunday be the last time Vettel and Leclerc are teammates?
There has been absolutely no indication that Ferrari are looking to make a personnel change with regards to their drivers, however events in Brazil tipped the team very close to the edge.
Tension has been growing ever since the start of the season when Charles Leclerc began outperforming the veteran Vettel, and there have been numerous flashpoints ever since, with the latest seeing a collision between the duo knocking them both out of the race entirely in Sao Paulo.
Vettel had quashed talk of retirement earlier in the year, but it’s almost impossible that he will be the lead driver at Ferrari next season, and whether or not he will accept this remains to be seen.
With the great deal of tension running through the Italian team, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix poses an interest test, especially with the team’s straight-line speed advantage having been taken away in the last three races.