Preview: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – track guide, prediction, race preview

Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit, including predictions, a track guide, qualifying and sprint results.

After George Russell claimed his first-ever win in Brazil, Formula 1 heads to Abu Dhabi for the 22nd and final Grand Prix of the season.

Max Verstappen has already been crowned champion, but there is still a lot to be decided, including second place in the Driver’s and Constructor’s championships.

Race preview

George Russell pictured on November 12, 2022© Reuters

George Russell will still be in a celebratory mood after experiencing the best weekend of his Formula 1 career in Brazil.

The British driver came from third on the grid to win Saturday’s sprint, before he won Sunday’s race to claim his first-ever Grand Prix victory in Formula 1.

Following an early collision with Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton fought his way back through the field to finish in second position for the third race in a row.

Hamilton will be looking for a positive weekend in Abu Dhabi after being denied an eighth World Championship in controversial circumstances at the Yas Marina circuit last year.

Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc finished in third and fourth place respectively in Brazil, and as a result, Mercedes managed to close the gap to Ferrari to 19 points in the battle for second place in the Constructor’s Championship.

Sebastian Vettel pictured on November 11, 2022© Reuters

Verstappen and Red Bull have already wrapped up the drivers and constructors championship, but they head into the season finale off the back of a difficult race in Brazil.

The two-time world champion received scrutiny when he ignored team orders to give sixth place back to his teammate Sergio Perezwho is level on points with Leclerc in the battle for second place in the World Championship.

Leclerc is currently ahead of the Mexican due to one more race win this season, and as a result, Perez will need to finish ahead of the Ferrari driver.

Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly will be driving in their final races for Alpine and AlphaTauri respectively before they move onto their new teams, while Daniel Ricciardo, Mick Schumacher and Nicolas Latifi do not have a seat in for next season.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix also represents the final race of Sebastian Vettel‘s glittering career, and the German title is set to retire with four World Championship titles, 53 race wins, 122 podiums and 57 pole positions.

Track Guide

Max Verstappen wins the Mexico GP on October 30, 2022© Reuters

The Yas Marina circuit underwent a number of significant changes ahead of the 2021 Grand Prix to create improved overtaking opportunities.

While the corners in the hotel section were opened up, changes at turn five and nine also presented drivers with the opportunity to pass the car in front.

The track contains several long straights, which will give an advantage to those cars that can reach higher top speeds.

There will be two DRS zones for the Grand Prix, with the first activation point situation at turn five, while the second one will be available after the seventh corner.

Lewis Hamilton pictured on October 21, 2022© Reuters

Last year’s Grand Prix was mired in controversy following scrutiny of the procedure used for the late safety car, which created the opportunity for Verstappen to pass Hamilton on the final lap to win the World Championship.

As a result of that victory, Verstappen has won the last two races at the Yas Marina Circuit, while Hamilton and Vettel are the two other drivers of the current lineup who have stood on the top step in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton has won the race on five occasions, while Vettel has found memories of winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009, 2010 and 2013.

Former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is set to make his 200th Grand Prix start this weekend when he lines up on the grid in his Alfa Romeo.

Driver Standings

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 429
2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 290
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 290
4. George Russell (Mercedes) – 265
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 240
6. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 234
7. Lando Norris (McLaren) – 113
8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 86
9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 81
10. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – 49
11. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) – 36
12. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – 35
13. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – 25
14. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – 23
15. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 14
16. Mick Schumacher (Haas) – 12th
17. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 12
18. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) – 6
19. Alexander Albon (Williams) – 4
20. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – 2
21. Nyck De Vries (Williams) – 2
22. Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin) – 0

Constructor Standings

1. Red Bull – 719
2. Ferrari – 524
3. Mercedes-505
4. Alpine – 167
5. McLaren – 148
6. Alfa Romeo – 55
7. Aston Martin – 50
8. Haas is 37
9. AlphaTauri – 35
10. Williams – 8

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We say: Max Verstappen to win

Although Verstappen experienced a difficult weekend in Brazil, the long straights of the Yas Marina circuit should suit his Red Bull car, which is usually quick in a straight line, and we think the Dutchman will round off the year with his 15th victory of the season .

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