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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Countdown to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: How the F1 title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel will unfold

The 2017 Formula One season resumes in Belgium on Sunday with eight races to go before the season climaxes at Yas Marina Circuit.

Lewis Hamilton, left, and Sebastian Vettel, right, are the main title protagonists as the 2017 F1 season resumes in Belgium. Andrew Boyers / Reuters
Lewis Hamilton, left, and Sebastian Vettel, right, are the main title protagonists as the 2017 F1 season resumes in Belgium. Andrew Boyers / Reuters

The Formula One season returns to action this weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix.

There are eight races, starting with Sunday's action at Spa Francorchamps, to take things up to the season finale, the ninth staging of the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 26 at Yas Marina Circuit.

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Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has a 14-point lead over Mercedes-GP's Lewis Hamilton after the first 11 races of the season, and given the closeness of the fight between the pair, everything points towards the drivers' championship being decided in the UAE for the fourth time in the event's history.

Here is a run-down of the road to Abu Dhabi.

Belgian Grand Prix, August 27

The long 7km track should in theory suit Hamilton and Mercedes, but wet weather is often a factor and can cause unpredictability.

Italian Grand Prix, September 3

Ferrari's home race, but they have not won at Monza since 2010, and the long straights are likely to favour Mercedes.

Singapore Grand Prix, September 17

Ferrari have had the edge on tight and twisty tracks, and the streets of Singapore were where Vettel dominated in 2015. Mercedes have only won once at the Marina Bay Circuit venue, last year through Nico Rosberg, but even then it was unconvincing as he had to hold off a late surge from Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull Racing car.

Malaysian Grand Prix, October 1

Vettel won his first race with Ferrari in 2015 here, but Hamilton and Mercedes would have triumphed last year had it not been for an engine failure. Hot conditions could make tyre wear a factor, which, in theory, would benefit Ferrari.

Japanese Grand Prix, October 8

Mercedes have won at Suzuka the past three seasons, but with Ferrari stepping up their aerodynamic performance since last year, they should be a lot closer to the German marque at a track where mechanical grip is crucial.

United States Grand Prix, October 22

Hamilton has won four of the five races held at Circuit of the Americas, and will be confident of completing a quintet. Vettel won the one that got away from in 2013 when he was still a Red Bull driver.

Mexican Grand Prix, October 29

The horsepower advantage of the Mercedes power units should give Hamilton and Bottas the edge here, though Ferrari's engine performance has improved this year, so it might not be quite as one-sided event as in previous years.

Brazil Grand Prix, November 12

Another race that could be affected by rain. Both Hamilton and Vettel have happy memories of the track, having won world titles at the venue.

Abu Dhabi, November 26

Both leading title contenders have enjoyed their fair share of success at Yas Marina. Both men have won a world title in the UAE, and also have each won the race three times. Mercedes have claimed the race the past three years, and with Ferrari having never won in Abu Dhabi, they will be confident of Hamilton's chances if a final-race shoot-out does happen.

Top 10 in the F1 drivers' standings

1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari 202 points

2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-GP 188

3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-GP 169

4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing 117

5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 116

6. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing 67

7. Sergio Perez, Force India 56

8. Esteban Ocon, Force India 45

9. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso 35

10. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault 26