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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2018: What's at stake for the Formula One season finale at Yas Marina Circuit

World champion Lewis Hamilton looks to match his best season in the sport in terms of wins as Ferrari look set for their best chance yet of claiming victory at the 5.5km track

Lewis Hamilton drives his Mercedes-GP car and Sebastian Vettel his Ferrari in Mexico. Hamilton is drivers' champion for 2018 but the constructors' championship can still be won by either of the two manufacturers. Reuters
Lewis Hamilton drives his Mercedes-GP car and Sebastian Vettel his Ferrari in Mexico. Hamilton is drivers' champion for 2018 but the constructors' championship can still be won by either of the two manufacturers. Reuters

Lewis Hamilton is world champion for a fifth time and Mercedes-GP have wrapped up the constructors' title. The main championships may already be won but there is still plenty at stake, and to be achieved, at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 25, the final round of the season.

Hamilton goes for win No 11

It has been another superlative year from the Briton and he can finish things off in style in the UAE.

If Hamilton wins in Abu Dhabi for a fourth time it will give him a 11th triumph in 2018, which would equal his most successful season in the sport in terms of victories.

Given his team Mercedes-GP, who are already constructors' champions, have won the race the past four years, the chances of Hamilton being up there fighting at the front in the 55-lap race are high.

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Ferrari's best chance at Abu Dhabi success

Given they are the most successful team in the history of the sport, it is a surprise that Ferrari have never crossed the line first in Abu Dhabi.

Second-place finishes for Fernando Alonso in 2011 and 2012 are as close as the famous Italian have come in the past.

Given Ferrari have had their best year since 2008 in terms of race victories, they have six to their name so far, they have a decent chance of making it No 7 in Abu Dhabi and ending their winless run at the venue.

The two long straights that make up the second section of the 5.5km track should suit Ferrari's powerful engine, meaning Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen should be right up there in both qualifying and the race.

This has been Ferrari's strongest campaign, in terms of raw pace, and they have a real chance of finally get their name on the winners' trophy for both driver and constructor in Abu Dhabi.

Third spot in the drivers’ standings

Hamilton is champion and Vettel is already guaranteed second spot.

But third place is up for grabs. Not the prize a driver strives for, but pride is at stake, and the fact the racer who finishes in that position will get a spot at the FIA's end of season awards gala where they will receive a trophy.

Raikkonen looks the most likely to take the spot. He has a 14-point lead over Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and 17 on Max Verstappen.

Both Bottas and Verstappen need to finish at least second in Abu Dhabi to have any chance of usurping the 2007 world champion.

Win drought for Bottas

Hamilton, as well as wrapping up the title early, has also dominated the wins tally at Mercedes.

He has nine to his name while teammate Bottas is on zero and in danger of being the first Mercedes driver since Michael Schumacher in 2012 to not win a race in a season.

His last win was last November in Abu Dhabi and he desperately needs a bright end to the year with his drive with the team in doubt beyond the end of 2019 when his contract expires.

The fight for fourth

The season has been dominated by Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull but the other seven teams have fought over what is effectively best of the rest - the Class B title - as it has been often called - is still at stake.

Renault are favourites to take the position, currently holding fourth with a 24-point lead over Haas.

Barring some freak results it should be the French manufacturer who leave Abu Dhabi in the position and claim the extra prize money.

Saying goodbye

As things stand only Mercedes and Haas are keeping their driver line-ups unchanged for 2019, so there will be plenty of farewells in Abu Dhabi.

The big one is Fernado Alonso’s last race for McLaren. The double world champion is leaving the sport and Yas Marina Circuit will be the site of the last time he will turn the wheel of a F1 car in a competitive environment.

Another world champion moving is Raikkonen who heads to Sauber next year from Ferrari. The Finn goes well in Abu Dhabi, having won in 2012 with Lotus, and he will look to sign off his second and final spell with his current employers in style.

Daniel Ricciardo, who has won seven times with Red Bull over the past five years, leaves the Austrian team after Abu Dhabi for Renault.